The following excerpt from Homer's Odyssey, XXIV. 225, gives
details of the costume worn by peasants of an earlier period, and this
description applies equally to the dress of peasants between the years
600 and 146 B.C.
He was clothed in a filthy chiton, patched and unseemly, with clouted leggings of ox-hide bound about his legs, against the scratches of the thorns, and long sleeves over his hands by reason of the brambles, and on his head he wore a goatskin cap.
"Sleeves " did not mean arm-coverings in the way the term is generally understood, but were pieces of hide tied or laced round the forearm, wrist and hand, leaving the fingers free, with possibly a hole for the thumb. This was the first Glove.
Roumanian Peasants Selling Flowers and Fruit
Roumanian Peasant Girl
Peasants of the Delta
Peasant Wagon, Hainburg
Peasant Girls Mowing
Peasant Girl, Thieben carrying a tall load on her back
Peasant Girl of the Black Forest
Egyptian peasants seized for non-payment of taxes ... (Pyramid Age)
THe figure represents a groupe of the common peasantry of the country eating their rice. The particular employment of these, here designated, is that of tracking barges on the canals; the pieces of wood lying by them being those which they place across the chest to drag forward the vessels. It will be seen from the other prints, that the common mode of carrying burthens is that of swinging baskets from the two extremities of a bamboo, which is laid by the middle across the shoulders.
Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of Paris.
At the onset, the slave only possessed his life, and this was but imperfectly guaranteed to him by the laws of charity; laws which, however, year by year became of greater power. He afterwards became colon, or labourer, working for himself under certain conditions and tenures, paying fines, or services, which, it is true, were often very extortionate.
The period known as the Middle Ages, says the learned Benjamin Guérard, is the produce of Pagan civilisation, of Germanic barbarism, and of Christianity. It began in 476, on the fall of Agustulus, and ended in 1453, at the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II., and consequently the fall of two empires, that of the West and that of the East, marks its duration. Its first act, which was due to the Germans, was the destruction of political unity, and this was destined to be afterwards replaced by religions unity. Then we find a multitude of scattered and disorderly influences growing on the ruins of central power. The yoke of imperial dominion was broken by the barbarians; but the populace, far from acquiring liberty, fell to the lowest degrees of servitude. Instead of one despot, it found thousands of tyrants, and it was but slowly and with much trouble that it succeeded in freeing itself from feudalism. Nothing could be more strangely troubled than the West at the time of the dissolution of the Empire of the Caesars; nothing more diverse or more discordant than the interests, the institutions, and the state of society, which were delivered to the Germans
Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original Documents in the great Libraries of Europe.