Finnish warrior

Too often have I heard of people complaining about woollen material being too hot. Medievalists make linnen and cotton clothes for themselves and wonder how did the ancestors make do with the terribly warm woollen clothes. This is because medieval markets are usually arranged during summer. Most of the year here in northern Europe, however is rather cold.  Some people have medievalist parties during winter, but mostly these are arranged in warm modern buildings with central heating. Woollen clothes are wery good when the thermometer sinks below zero on the celcius degrees and I would add necessary when it gets minus twenty or so. The furs on rich peoples clothes are not purely decorational in our climate.

The re-enactment and even living history groups seem to forget far too easily, that medieval people did not live in tents at markets, but most people lived in houses. Here in the north houses were mostly built of solid logs with tached or turf roofs. They had an open fireplace or an oven. Snow was piled up along the walls to make them keep the warmth inside. Only wery rich people lived in stonebuildings or castles. It is said those were damp and cold most of the year, alltough all the great castles I know up here north had a hypocaust, a sort of central heater. It may not have made the castles actually warm, but it most propably kept the worst dampnes away. anyway there was ample reason to wear woollen clothes even inside. And that is true also for the summer in shady cool stone castles.

People also used a lot less time indoors, than nowadays. The windows were small and lighting was allways poor and most of the farm work was outdoors anyway. In winter with less light even outside all the daylight had to be used to full extend.

Many re-enactors depict soldiery. I can not critisize this as such, for that is what I also do, but  what needs to be remembered is that the medieval soldiers basicly equipped themselves. So the rich knights might have had servants, tents and even furniture, but common soldiers would more often not have nothing of the sort. Most larger armies might have had baggage trains, but they were for the provisions and property of the mighty lords. Smaller units would carry all they needed. Most often most soldiers would have to carry all they posessed.

So campaining in wintertime would require equipment that one is able to sleep ouside in the snow if need be. This may reflect how much weapons and armour you are carrying in comparrison to warm clothes.