What did medieval people look like?

Knowledge pool
The city in the late Middle Ages

  • In purgatory
  • In the poor hospital
  • Ora et labora - monks working in the garden

Belief in God as the central conception of life

A pilgrimage, undertaken once in a lifetime to a holy place or a place of pilgrimage, reflected the notion of people in the Middle Ages that they were on a journey in which this earthly life was only a transition and transition stage into a better life in the hereafter. Acts of penance and good works prepared for life in the hereafter.

Despite the expectation of a better world in the hereafter, people feared the time of penance in purgatory and were afraid of "burning" in hell and being damned forever. This punishment could be avoided by not being guilty of anything in this world or by repenting and atone for your guilt. Wealth and poverty were thought to be given by God. Haves did good by, for example, providing the needy with food. Beggars saw it as an expression of God's care. The Church taught the rich to understand that giving alms could save them from damnation. The rich hoped to use it to buy eternal life.

Entering a monastery offered the greatest possible guarantee of a positive life in the hereafter. With no personal possessions to serve God alone, people prayed, read religious scriptures, and made a living with their own hands. One of the tasks of the monasteries was to take care of the needy. In the Middle Ages, hospitals played a role that could hardly be underestimated as welfare institutions. They served as a starting point for pilgrims and the sick, the elderly and orphans. Usually administered by monasteries, the hospitals are financed by donations, gifts, foundations, benefices and wills. The foundations corresponded to the religiosity of the people who were asked to do good. The porters decided how long someone could stay in the hospital. As a rule, sick people lay in a hospital hall, up to three people in one bed. Beneficiaries were usually better accommodated, depending on the contribution paid. Caregivers were mostly women; Doctors, Bader and Scherer were responsible for the medical treatment.