[Sca-cooks] Age in the Middle Ages (was Re: Hildegard's dips?)
edoard at medievalcookery.com
Thu Sep 13 17:17:23 PDT 2007
On Sep 13, 2007, at 9:06 AM, Ana Valdés wrote:
> She lived 81 years, an enormous livespan at that
> time when people were old at 40!
Um ... no.
[rant = on]
The idea that people in the medieval period were "old" when they were
in their forties is a gross misconception.
The average life *expectancy* was indeed much lower than it is now -
say around 45 years - but what that means is that *on average* people
would live that long. This statistic is skewed however by the high
infant mortality rate of the time.
In other words, people didn't age any faster, or seem any older then
than they do now. They simply didn't expect all the children to make
it to their first birthday.
It's worth noting that in 1900 the life expectancy of the average
American was 47 years - and a few people born in 1900 are still
alive. It's currently 77.9 (I think)
On the other hand, the lifespan (or longevity, or maximum life
expectancy) for humans has remained remarkably consistent throughout
recorded history, and is generally somewhere between 75 and 120 years
(depending on the way it's calculated).
So 40 year olds weren't considered "old" in medieval Europe, at least
not any more than they are today.
[rant = off]
200. Take Auence and Longebeff, and caste in-to a potte, than take
hem vp of the water after the fyrst boylyng, an cast safroun ther-to
a quantyte, and serue forth. [The Boke of Swyllyng]
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