A Diary of a Woman from the Middle Ages

The light is low but I know I should write this down. I have some parchment left and some ink. The feelings were overwhelming. I have to let it all out. I hope I had some brushes and paint with me instead, so I can really show how I feel. This was my first day in the castle as an assistant cook for the Baron. I am but a peasant who learned to read and write upon my insistence, with the help of the parish priest.

The Baron was able to taste my cooking when he visited the little pub I worked for with his men. His visits became frequent, and every time he asked for my special pork stew. It came to a point when I though that my recipes could not have been that good for him to be addicted to it. Apparantly, he was. One night, as he merrily cheered with his men, he whispered to me that he would like to hire me as a cook in the castle.

Back then, I thought the Baron desired me. To be his mistress? I do not believe I could fathom that. He appeared to be happy with his family. I did not see any reason for him to simply wander to loose skirts. Not that my skirts ever came loose. As tradition, I married at an early age. However, as fate would have me, it will not let me live a long life with my husband, who died of an illness. God, bless his soul.
Looking at the façade of the castle, I have often wondered how it was inside. Upon that first step, I prayed to God to bless the Baron for finding my stew such a gift. At first, I came with him because I thought that there were no where else for commoners to go to. So I grasped the opportunity even though I was unsure of when I agreed myself into.
The inside of the castle was definitely a dream for me. The carvings and the high ceilings got me dreamy eyed as I watched the meticulously crafted creations dance in the afternoon sunlight.
I also learned today, that the Baron was truly kind, and he wanted to have my stew on my first night in the household. The tapestries, furniture and the people working and living within the walls of this building were quite a surprise. Who would have thought that this day and age would have created such amiable people?
When given the chance to be more than one of the castle cooks, I shall ask one of the friends I made today to show me around. The Baron himself offered. He is such an unusual fellow. I denied it, of course, reasoning that I should have myself settled first for his dinner. By the jest alone, I believe he already anticipated the taste and the aroma. Really unusual.
Second Entry:
One of the Baron’s daughters, I learned, had a passion for painting pictures as well. But as far as I am aware of, painting is one of those crafts considered to be a menial job. I did not think that the Baron would allow his daughter to exert such effort for something they can order another to do. What are commoners for?
But when I stand by to observe my lady, I noticed that she enjoyed painting pictures, and her technique adorned the walls of the castle. So she was the artist behind all these. I have painted a few of my ideas, but being the commoner that I was, with rough clothes for daily wear, I did not dream of ever being the painter I can imagine myself as.
Third Entry:
My lady caught me looking at her canvasses stored in her make shift studio. The moment she walked in, I felt the blood drain from my face. I knelt down on both knees and hung my head for forgiveness. She did not say anything but walked to me until I could see the toes of her shoes right in front of my face. I really thought she would punish me. I had no right being in her studio in the first place.
But she gently placed her palm on top of my head and asked if I would like to try to paint a picture. I immediately told her that I am not deserving of ever touching their property. I said that I should be punished instead. But my lady bent to touch my rough and embarrassing hands and led me to a blank canvas. A paint brush was placed between my fingers and she motioned my to dip its tip on some paint she had redied. With her soft hand over mine, she motioned the brush to simply slide a soft slope down a canvas.
I almost felt how such a simple stroke across an empty space could change a lot in me. I used to paint by using the most inexpensive supplies because there was little money to even compensate food. But in the castle, no body was deprived of food. My lady even gave permission to use it. Eureka!
Fourth Entry:
Few days passed since my lady allowed me to use her brushes for the first time. I became more greatful to God who allowed my path to cross with the kind hearted Baron. To note my feelings, I painted a little piece for God. It was a token I thought that would please my Creator. I was not inspired but thankful. That was my driving force.
The Baron’s daughter praised my piece and I blushed. I never imagined that a noble person could have praised such a commoner as myself. Their family was definitely an odd combination of heart, spirit and brains. I thought nothing else could have surprised me.
 But there was! It seemed like a jest to me when she suddenly gained interest of my past. She asked if I had a family. There wasn’t much that I could remember. I was born to a poor family, and my parents died because of too much hard work and little food. I don’t know why my lady asked for details that I assume she would have known from the start.
Then she looked at me with such sad eyes, and I realized that her eyes weren’t that open to reality yet. I immediately tried to comfort her, when it seemed it should have been the other way around. She wiped her tears with a piece of linen square and asked me to continue with the story. With a whisper of pain at the reminder of beloved, I told her some of the things about my marriage. Like most of the girls of this period of time got married at such an early age. But I learned to love my husband anyway.
My lady shed more of her tears and I almost laughed at her face. She didn’t have to, really. She didn’t have to pity my story. But with the assistance of the linen square, she looked up at me with clear eyes and said that she thought as much when she looked at my drafts and little masterpieces.
She insisted that I painted with her by the gardens when she did. It made her feel assured that there are still those who shared her passion. At the end of every session, we would look at each others’ work and comment about the job done. Who would have thought that a commoner would ever experience the feeling of being equal with the noble families of this country? This family is definitely unusually kind.

superadmin (28431)
New York University
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