Late Middle Ages

A changing city

In the Late Middle Ages Braunschweig was known as one of the most turbulent cities in Europe besides Paris and Ghent with repeated revolts by its citizens. The so-called ‘Braunschweiger Schichten’ between 1375 and 1380 led to a temporary exclusion from the Hanseatic League. But despite riots and Black Death epidemics Braunschweig continuously kept growing. Around 1500 15.000 people were already living in the city.

Meat as a staple food

Nutrition in the Middle Ages was influenced by what was available regionally and during the different seasons. The food menu contained poultry, fish, salad and goat’s milk in spring, fruit in summer and autumn and in winter mainly hot beverages and more meat. Beef was also counted as one of the basic food items. The ‘Knochenhauer’ – the name for butchers in those days – were obligated to offer it at a relatively cheap price.

During meals one bowl was shared

The cooking took place on an open fire inside the house. But the city already had snack stalls, the so called ‘Garküchen’ (cook shops). Often several people shared only one bowl during a meal. Gluttony and drunkenness were quite common in the Late Middle Ages, particularly as wine and beer were more digestible than water. Tilmann Zierenberg, who since 1477 was the headmaster of one of the Latin schools in Braunschweig, wrote: ‘There are many fountains in the city. Their water is not considered to be healthy to drink.’

The first schools are founded

At the beginning of the 15th century the council of Braunschweig set up municipal schools in addition to the already existing church establishments. There the lesson plan included Latin as well as the German language, writing and counting. Private schools were also tolerated and were often the only way for children of common citizens to receive an education. They wrote with styluses on wax boards and later on with a quill and ink on paper.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • aus: Alltagsleben im Mittelalterlchen Braunschweig, Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum 1997, S. 12