As a lover of history, I find myself fascinated with the intricacies of life in the medieval era. One aspect of this era that often goes overlooked is the role of lighting. In this blog post, I will explore the importance of lighting in medieval times, from the use of candles to the advent of oil lamps and beyond.
Candlelight: The Most Common Form of Lighting
Candles were the most common form of lighting in medieval times. They were made from beeswax or tallow and were used in homes, churches, and other public spaces.
The Cost of Candles
Candles were expensive during the medieval times, which made them a luxury item that only the wealthy could afford. This is because beeswax was difficult to obtain and tallow was in short supply. The cost of candles was also affected by the fact that they had to be made by hand, which was a time-consuming process.
Using Candles for Light
Candles were used for a variety of purposes, including for lighting homes and churches. They were also used during religious ceremonies and for decorative purposes. In fact, candles were so important that they were considered to be a symbol of wealth and power.
Candlemaking was a specialized craft during the medieval era. Candlemakers, also known as chandlers, would create candles by dipping wicks into melted wax or tallow. This process would be repeated until the desired thickness was achieved. The candles would then be left to cool and harden.
The Advent of Candle Clocks
Candles were not only used for light but also as timekeepers. Candle clocks were used in the medieval era to tell time. These clocks worked by marking the passage of time based on how much of the candle had burned down.
Oil Lamps: A New Form of Lighting
Oil lamps were another form of lighting that became popular during the medieval era. They were made from clay or bronze and were powered by olive oil or animal fat.
The Advantages of Oil Lamps
Oil lamps had several advantages over candles. For starters, they were cheaper to produce than candles. They were also safer to use, as they did not produce as much smoke or soot as candles. Finally, oil lamps provided a brighter and more consistent light than candles.
The Use of Oil Lamps
Oil lamps were used in a variety of settings, including homes, churches, and public spaces. They were also used during religious ceremonies and for decorative purposes.
The Evolution of Oil Lamps
Oil lamps continued to evolve throughout the medieval era. By the 13th century, glass was being used to create oil lamps, which made them safer and more efficient.
Torches and Bonfires: Lighting for Outdoor Settings
Torches and bonfires were used for lighting in outdoor settings. Torches were made from a stick or piece of wood that was wrapped with fabric or dipped in tar. Bonfires were made by stacking pieces of wood and lighting them on fire.
The Use of Torches and Bonfires
Torches and bonfires were used for a variety of reasons, including for lighting outdoor events, such as festivals and processions. They were also used during battles to light up the battlefield.
The Evolution of Torches and Bonfires
Torches and bonfires continued to evolve throughout the medieval era. By the 14th century, torches were being made with multiple wicks, which provided a brighter and more consistent light.
The Importance of Lighting in Medieval Times
The importance of lighting in medieval times cannot be overstated. Without proper lighting, people would not have been able to go about their daily activities, such as reading, cooking, or working. Lighting also played an important role in religious ceremonies and other public events.
Social Status and Lighting
The type of lighting that a person had access to was often indicative of their social status. Wealthy individuals had access to beeswax candles and oil lamps, while poorer individuals had to make do with tallow candles or torches.
The Evolution of Lighting
The evolution of lighting during the medieval era was an important step in the history of technology. It paved the way for future advancements in lighting, such as the invention of the light bulb.
In conclusion, lighting played a crucial role in medieval times. From the use of candles to the advent of oil lamps and beyond, lighting was an essential part of daily life. It is important to remember the advancements made during this era, as they paved the way for the modern lighting technology that we enjoy today.