Anyone know any good books or sites for researching life in a town in feudal Europe? My story is fantasy, so it doesn't have to be perfectly historically accurate, but I would like it to have a semblance of feudal Europe. I am specifically focusing on life for the lower classes, though not serfs, people who would live and trade in the town.
I've done some searches on feudalism in general, feudal towns, and orphanages in feudal Europe.
My character grows up in an orphanage, though it seems that most were run by the church, but in my world there is no such church, so it would be run by the government. Does this seem feasible? I've also read that orphans may be apprenticed out to learn a trade. Another thing, does it seem unlikely that children would learn to read and write at an orphanage, especially as members of the lower class?
Edit: Oh, yes, by "government" I was thinking government of the town itself.
Edit: For my story, I'd like there to be a clear division between the nobles and upper class and the lower classes, the townsfolk, merchants, peasants, etc. The ruling class is oppressive through taxes and authoritarian rule. I see a group of knights serving as the nobles' hand and policing the land, as well as guards serving the town itself. I see the town comprised of craftsmen and merchants and likely guilds. My character's mother was a seamstress and his father was a trader who settled into the town, married, and became a drunk.
I'm not sure if literacy would be necessary for my character, so if it's more reasonable for the lower classes to be illiterate, then I think that should work. Otherwise, I may have him, instead of growing up in an orphanage, apprenticed to a trade in which he might learn to read and write. While I originally had him in the orphanage from age 5 to 10, it might make more sense for him to be put to work somewhere. I would like to find more information on medieval orphanages though.
I know that's not a whole lot of information, but can you think of any time periods/places I may be able to narrow my research down to?
- Life in a feudal town