Travel in Medieval Times compared to today
Many people wouldn’t think twice about travelling over 50kms for work or for fun things to do on the weekend (like driving from Brisbane CBD to Abbey Museum). But for those in the Middle Ages, travel was an arduous task and only undertaken out of necessity.
So what was it like travelling back then?
It was not unusual for people of all classes to travel in the Middle Ages. The Romans had built a network of roads across their empire, but these were the only roads and by the Middle Ages they were in poor condition and unusable in inclement weather. They were useful for walking – especially for marching soldiers, but the decay of the stone paths made it difficult for wagons pulled by oxen and mules to traverse. Buying these animals was also relatively expensive and it was costly to keep them well fed along with maintaining the carts and wagons too.
How far did people travel?
Because of this even travelling up to 10 kilometres in a day was demanding although on some occasions people were known to have travelled on average 25 kilometres a day and messengers up to 60. However the majority of people at the time were not likely to travel any further than 100 kilometres from their home. With most of the Roman roads being damaged until their eventual repair in the 13th century many messengers and envoys travelled long distances by horse back. Kings travelled frequently as they were required to showcase their power and wealth especially in feudal times they often travelled in order to make their presence known.
Why all the effort?
Aside from royalty and military, most travellers at the time were merchants, messengers, tax collectors and pilgrims. Politics, religion and trade were the main reasons anyone travelled and it was as expensive as it was difficult. Most of the travelling was religious such as pilgrimages and crusades. Along with carts and wagons, saddlebags were commonplace using horses, donkeys or mules to avoid fatigue. Farmers also travelled to markets in the closest villages to sell their products and peasants often undertook pilgrimages to holy places as it was believed praying at these sites meant a greater chance of going to heaven. Nobles often arranged hospitality amongst each other making sure to send messengers to announce their impending arrival while inns became more common for travellers that could afford it.
Grab a lift
Thanks to modern roads and technologies, travelling between locations is more accessible than ever. Travelling to and from Abbey is easy with taxi services like Black & White Cabs to drop you right on the medieval doorstep. Head to their website, app or give the team a call on 133 222 to book your pre and post Abbey Medieval Festival ride.