[Sca-cooks] Age in the Middle Ages (was Re: Hildegard's dips?)

Daniel Myers 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]

- Doc

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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