Medieval Monday: Labors of February

Medieval Monday

Allison D. Reid

B.11.4, ff.i verso-ii rectoFebruary’s labors varied depending on where in Europe one lived. In the northernmost regions, where the ground was still frozen and additional snow and frost was anticipated, tasks continued to focus basic necessities like chopping wood and anything that could be done indoors. A common image in medieval art for February showed people warming themselves by the fire, or spending time in church.

feb-labors-spreading-manureHowever, in European regions further south, it was already time to start field work. Manure and marl (a soil mixture of clay and lime) could be spread on fields, and furrowing and planting would begin for early growing grains like barley. Larger fields would be turned and furrowed with plows pulled by horses or oxen. Households with smaller fields and gardens did the same back-breaking work by hand with spades. These were made of wood, with just the tip of the spade fitted with an iron piece…

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