Furniture Through the Middle Ages in Europe

Published On September 14, 2017 | By admin | Home Decor

We have evidence that early human societies made furniture as far back as the Egyptian dynasty.  It could probably be argued that humans used found items like tree stumps and logs, etc, as a type of Rentan furniture for ages before, but indeed, the first evidence fabricated furniture dates back to the Egyptians. Through the growth of Mesopatmia, Greece, and Rome furniture changed very little, mostly characterized by stools, chairs, and tables, though ornamentation began to grow in the later years.

The Fall of the Roman Empire

When the Roman Empire collapsed around the end of the 4th century, much of Europe fell into a bit of stagnation. During this period, lifestyles were minimized and so was furniture.  Furniture was very basic: simple stools and chairs, benches and storage chests.  Of course, not much of this furniture has survived so we do not know much else about it, but from what evidence we have we know that wood was not an abundant resource, so furniture was sparse.

Early Middle Ages

We do have some evidence that some popular furniture traditions we use today might have been developed during this age. The Byzantine tradition of turnery came out of this period, spreading throughout Europe and, perhaps, reaching as far north as Scandanavia. In fact, the famous Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf moderately describes domestic Europe in the 7th century, making very little mention of any furniture other than benches and thrones.

Later Middle Ages

Towards the middle of the 14 century, Europe started to see major technological advances that improved furniture design. This is when we first start to see things like compartments in desks, for example.  This is also the period during which we first start to the reintroduction and evolution framed paneling that had originally been introduced in Ancient times.  

In the 15th century, this technology continued to improve, making it easier to build more storage furniture with neater and more efficient joints.  New ornamentation in paneling was also introduced. Chests—the long-standing storage furniture of choice—evolved into things like the box chair, becoming even more useful.  This is particularly important because chairs were actually less common during the time. Tables evolved by shifting towards trestle construction with braced frames that could actually be dismantled and put away; this was also when we started to see things like the sideboard and buffet table.

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