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Medieval Life 105 – Great Fairs





Medieval Life 105 – Great Fairs

Great Fairs in the Middle Ages

Seasonal fairs, markets and festivals offered a much needed respite from the daily workload of the peasants and town dwellers. Fairs grew out of religious festivals which came from "holy days".

Merchants would come from all over Europe to buy and sell during the great trade fairs that often were held on the feast days of saints.

In 1109, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, acquired a piece of Christ’s "true cross"( the cross upon which Jesus was crucified). Each year, in June, thousands of pilgrims would travel to visit this holy relic. In surrounding streets merchants set up stalls to create a grand fair. Banners and bells announced the opening of the fair.

The pilgrims would be entertained by bands of dancers, jugglers, acrobats, puppeteers and musicians who would travel from village to village. The atmosphere was often merry. People played dice games and loved to bet on wrestling matches and cock fights. The fairs also included tournaments for archery or jousting.

The taverns were busy as people drank large amounts of cheap ale, mead and wine. For the most part, water was potentially unsafe and known to be so.

At the market one could find sheep, pigs, cheese, eggs, aromatic spices, pots, pans, tools, knives, shoes, rare fabrics, and leather goods. Baked deep fried meat pies called "chewets" were very popular.

The pilgrims would lodge wherever they could find shelter. They could be found sleeping in barns, farmhouses or special hostels.

Come now dear friend and let us quench our thirst and spend a day at the fair in Camelot.

We thanketh Camelot Days for that most merry video.

With a Merry Herte,

Lady Sharon
Scribe of Camelot

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