I have decided to become a flesh made female, or better say a young lady, who lived with her family in the house or better say the room during Tudor times in England. I have chosen 16th century England for my paper, as I consider this country as well as the period to be very important to the Renaissance epoch and to all changes that occurred later. It was the period of changes in almost all aspects of people’s lives- economical, religious, cultural and political. Entrepreneurship was developing, as well as mechanisms of commerce. But still there were many poor people, and that was a great problem of that time.
I woke up just when the sun came up. My younger brother was sleeping next to me. I was so happy to see him alive as two my younger sisters and little brother died last year. Sisters died of hunger and brother had some disease that was incompatible with life, as my mother told me.
This morning it was rather cold for the end of the spring and I cocooned myself in the blanket. The straw-filled mattress was stabbing my back, but I was still happy today. I didn’t realize in the full extent why, but it was spring, and the sun was shining almost everyday and everything was ok so far. Then I started to look for my mum, she already got up and was cooking some food in the iron cooking pot, which was sitting over the fire in the corner.
I got up, hugged her and kissed her. She asked whether I was hungry and asked to bring some water from the well. I got dressed, took the bucket and went out. My father is a farm laborer, and he works all day long for a farmer, receives 2 pounds a day and a loaf of bread that cost 1 pound (Walsham, 1999). I rarely talked to my dad, as he was always very tired, but one day he brought me a piece of sweet bread. It was the best day in my life.
Our family is not very poor. We have a small piece of land near the forest, three hens and a rooster. Mother is dreaming about buying a small pig. On Sundays sometimes father is hunting in the forest. If the day is lucky, he comes back with a big rabbit. Other days, he brings some quails and berries.
When I got the water, I went home. On my way back I met my friend Christopher who was going to bring some water as well. I guess I like him, as we meet every morning and each time I enjoy going for water. He is two years older than me, fourteen, tall with big green eyes, though those eyes never smile, it is just his mouth smiling to me. We stopped to have a conversation. He told me that his father died yesterday, and he was thirty three years old. He is left the only men in the family and from now he will have to work hard to feed his three younger sisters and help his mother. He also told me that he was thinking about going to look for work town. I almost cried.
When I came back home, my brother, his name is by the way Thomas, was playing with a wooden toy- father made for his birthday about two months ago. He smiled to me and put out his hand to me. I hugged him and asked mother what we are supposed to do today. The matter of fact, she was teaching me to spin and to weave all last week, it very difficult for me, and I tried to do my best. Mother smiled and said that today is the holy day and we will not work. It was great news, as I totally forgot about it.
“Where is father? I though he was at work,” I asked with hope that he will spend the whole day with us.
“He will be back soon. He went to play football,”answered mother and sighed.
It is fairly the best day in my life. Then, after having breakfast, and for breakfast we had barley porridge, I dressed Thomas and took him outside in a box and gave him some grass and stones to play, while we were gathering vegetables and herbs with mother in our small vegetable garden. The sun was not so high, but the whether was lovely. I asked mother about reading. She looked at me with surprise.
“Do you know how to read?” I wondered.
“Where did you get that idea?” She tried to stay calm, but I saw that she could blow out each moment.
“Well…nowhere… Yesterday when I came to visit our granny,” I mumbled, “another old man was visiting her. He was talking about the Sir Philip Sidney and his poems. He told that he read them all and he had never read anything more exclusive and inspiring,” I was carefully choosing words not to hurt her, though I didn’t know why she got so mad.
Afterwards she told me to throw away all thoughts about reading from my head and to concentrate upon things that would help me to survive and to earn some money for living.
“Is that because that we are poor?” I asked through tears.
“What stupid questions you are asking today. Better look carefully what you are doing with your hands! We are not so poor,” her voice melted a little bit, “there are many people that cannot have that we have, and we are lucky to have all our stuff.”
I looked tenderly at her. She is about thirty years old. She is very beautiful, but her face color is more brown yellow, her arms are dirty, and that dirt cannot be washed, her hair is intensively black, but I start to notice many grey hairs after the death of her three children.
After we finished, the neighbor girl- Cathy- asked me to go to swim. My mother allowed and we ran as fast as we can to swim enough before the sun disappears. Cathy is thirteen years old. She is already working with her mother in the field for the same farmer my father works for. Their father died two years ago and they are two left alone- her mother and she- in their cob-house, where the walls are constructed from the mixture of lime, mud and straw. Their home animals- the duck and the hen are living in that house with them, as they cannot afford themselves the separate barn for them and our winters are severe.
There was the whole village at the river. It seems that it was a kind of swimming competition among men, in the crowd I noticed my father, who was about to compete with a huge man, who lived alone at the other end of the village. It seemed that it would be a lot of fun. My father failed to win, but still the view was very entertaining. We swam for about 2 hours, then the sun hide behind the clouds and we rushed back home. We chatted all the time about boys and whether and what happened to us the other day. We couldn’t close our mouths. When I reached our small house, mother already cooked the soup. Thomas was sleeping in our common bed, that mother said that it was already time for him to get up. Soon after that came father. He was in a good mood, fresh after football and swimming competitions. He hugged my mother, kissed her and put something in her hand. I put on the semblance that I am not interested though I almost died of curiosity. It was a chaplet, red and green, very beautiful. Then we ate all together silent. After dinner, mother started to get ready for the celebration, which was supposed to take place on the main square. I was anticipating this event for almost two months. I always enjoyed holidays when the whole village was getting together, drinking, eating and dancing. Especially I liked dancing, even though was still too shy to join adults in them. I preferred staying with my girlfriends and Thomas, as it was my duty to take care of him during such occasions. We were gossiping about other village in habitants and dreaming about that one day Christopher would invite for a dance, and would dance all evening, and then get married and have a lot of children. Though I was not sure whether I would like to have a lot. But this was the situation when you never know and it is God’s will for everything. And I knew that I had no right to have such desires, as I will get married with the one, who will choose me, and my parents will decide my destiny.
The group of man near us was discussing Henry VIII and something about his wives. They were also discussing trebled prices for wheat (Walsham, 1999) in recent years and inflation and said that they are lucky that they have almost recovered from Black Death. The conversation was rather interesting, as it was new information for me, but mother told me to get Thomas back home and go to sleep. I was disappointed, but did what mother told me.
When going asleep I began to think again how it could be possible to me to learn how to read, but it will be brand new story.
Emerson, K.L. (1984) Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth Century England. Troy, NY: Whitstone Publishing.
Herlihy, D. (1997) The Black Death and the Transformation of the West. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA.
Smith, L.B. (1971). Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Walsham, A. (1999). Providence in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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