Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Life in the 15th Century

Everyone comes from somewhere and your background and experiences as you grow up in the various regions of the Holy Roman Empire or elsewhere leave an indelible mark. Even more important than the region from which you hail is your place in the "Great chain of being" and everyone knows their place, from the lowliest serf to God's anointed, Emperor-elect and King of the Romans. Pay careful heed to the limits that the Social System can place on your plans in life. Knowing your place in the world and where you come from, you then had best find a guild which matched your inclinations and which will permit you membership.

The common language in the Holy Roman Empire is simply German. The language of Christendom is Latin and the language of intellectuals is also Latin. Latin is the most appropriate language for reading and writing and theoretically would also allow you to converse with any Churchman anywhere. However, unbeknownst to most of the faithful, many a priest has been consecrated while wholly incapable of saying even the mass correctly, let alone being fully conversant in Latin!

The passage of years follows the Julian Calendar passed down from our Roman forebears. There are 365 days in a year, divided into twelve months and grouped into weeks of seven days each.

Since it is unthinkable to follow any other way than that of the Roman Catholic Church, the holy day is of course every Sunday. Most toil in the fields according to the passage of the sun in the sky, awake at dawn, breakfast work until midday, eat, then work until the gathering dusk, eat once more then sleep. Some of the greatest and wealthiest towns have sponsored skilled craftsmen to create wondrous mechanical clocks in their town squares, these clocks keep track of twelve hours before the meridian and then the twelve hours hence. However, for the minority that follow some other path in life than working the land, there is the standard of "hours" based on the routine of prayers in monasteries. There were eight of these “hours,” or "offices," during the day:

M a t i n s : M i d n i g h t
Latins: 3 AM
Prime: 6AM
Terce: 9 AM
Sexts: N o o n
Nones: 3 P M
Ve s p e r s : 6PM
Compline: 9 PM

Despite minor and inconsequential regional variations, there is one standard for the coin of the realm:
12 Pfennig (pf)= 1 Groschen or Schilling (g),
20 Groschen = 1 Florin (fl).

The standard coin for those who aspire to a greater station in life is the silver Groschen or Schilling (g), copper Pfennigs are really just shortchange for peasants to deal in and the golden "Florins", or "Guilden" or "Guilders" are what the great lords and merchants will tend to trade with.

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