Here are some common questions about medieval London and the answers to them. But first some practical matters:
- If you are a teacher, planning a school visit or wishing to learn how the gallery can help with teaching: look at the Learning section of our website (www.museumoflondon.org.uk/learning)
- If you have found what may be a medieval artefact – especially one that could come under the Portable Antiquities Scheme – please contact our Finds Liaison Officer (Tel: 020 7814 5733)
- If you have any other query about medieval London, you can ask the curator
- If you would like more help with using this website, you can view our help pages.
- Where did the Anglo-Saxons come from?
- ‘Anglo-Saxons’ is the name applied to the groups of people who arrived in Britain from northern Germany and Denmark in the 400s. They spoke various dialects of a language related to German that we now call Old English. See the Anglo-Saxons subject for more information.
- Where did the Vikings come from?
- Denmark, Norway and Sweden. See the Vikings subject for more information.
- What does medieval mean?
- ‘Medieval’ means ‘middle age’. The Middle Ages were those between the Classical world of the Greeks and Romans and the rediscovery of Classical culture called the ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘Rebirth’). Roman control of Britain ended in 410 when the emperor Honorius refused to send troops to protect the Roman province of Britain from invaders. The Renaissance began in the 1300s and carried on into the 1500s. However, medieval life in London did not end until the Reformation, which introduced Protestant Christianity to England and significantly changed people’s lives. The religious upheaval due to the Reformation ended with the reign of Elizabeth I.
- What did medieval people eat?
- Many poor people lived in small rooms with no cooking facilities so they ate fast food from street vendors and cook shops. Better-off households had their own kitchens where food was roasted, or boiled in cauldrons, over the fire. Christian religion banned the eating of meat on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, though people could eat fish and shellfish on those days. Oysters from the Thames were very cheap. See the Eating & Drinking subject for more information.
- How big was medieval London?
- About 1 mile across (the area that is the City of London today). Modern suburbs were then just surrounding villages. Westminster was a separate governmental centre (see the Government theme for more information).