I am listening to a lecture series and the professor mentioned a "spring harvest" starting in mid to late March. I think this is a mistake - the winter crops were not harvested until the Summer - but I could be wrong.
- was there a spring harvest?
- when did it start? (what century?)
- what month was it in?
- what crops were harvested?
- Which lecture series?
- I had hoped to avoid this as I do not wish to challenge the lecturer directly, but it is The Medieval World
- Why do you doubt the narrative?
- The lecturer has already made a number of statements which are between suspicious and downright wrong, especially on matters related to religion.
- This conflicts my prior understanding of Medieval farming.
- What region are you referring to?
- The lecturer generally limits herself to the areas around France, England, and the low countries.
- What is the timeline you're referring to?
- This part of the course is a bit ambiguous. It is after the enfiefdom of France, probably after the invasion of England by William the Conqueror. That said, I would be glad to know of any such harvest practices. If it is something common only to one particular region or era, that would be appreciated, too.
- If I had to put numbers on it, I would say that this is probably between the 11th and 14th centuries, but if there is a sizable pattern anywhere between the 5th and the late 15th that would validate her claim.
- What, specifically, do you doubt?
- The professor stated that Lent was at the time of year with the least food. This is doubtful as the fasting in Lent was related to milk, cheese, and eggs. These were not staples of the Medieval peasant's diet, nor would they be in short supply. Further, while it is possible that the upper class might have celebrated the restoration of meat, it was less of an issue to members of the lower class. Most of our festival customs come from the lower class and migrate up the social stata.1
- The lecturer also asserted that Easter was held after a Spring harvest. I found this strange as winter crops are normally harvested in August. I also could not find a reference to a sprint harvest in these materials.
- Finally, the assertion that Easter was the celebration of a Spring harvest conflicts with the nature of harvesting: crops need to be harvested under certain climatic conditions. Easter, however, being a variable date, will often fall outside of this range (harvesting in late April is very different from harvesting in early March).
1. I understand that this particular statement may fall under "common knowledge". If pressed, I can cite sources… just not right now