The Real Renaissance Was No Festival for Ordinary Folks

By Marta Rodriguez-Noriega Nava, PAW Writer

The annual Renaissance Festival in Shakopee is a great place to go for food, fun and relaxation after a long week of hard work. It ́s a place where you will not be bored because there are a lot of things to see and do. Kings and queens strutting around, lots of food, entertainment, comedy, theater and games. . The only problem with the Festival is, it is not quite like real life in the 14th through 17th centuries.

The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy. In the beginning, most people were poor. Good food was hard to find, unlike the Festival where you can find all kinds of food and drinks in almost unlimited quantities. At the Festival, actors and some of the visitors wear elaborate costumes. During the early Renaissance times, the ordinary people were poorly dressed in linen or wool, not velvet and jewels. Their homes had dirt floors and very little privacy. Most people lived their entire lives in the same village, and rarely left those villages for festivals or parties or any other reason because it was just too dangerous to travel. Church was at the center of their lives.

Life changed when the Black Death swept through Europe. People died by the hundreds of thousands. There was such a labor shortage that the nobility was forced to hire the remaining workers to do the work on their estates, and pay them for the work. With cash in their pockets, the ordinary people could get better food and even spend some money on fancy clothes. Towns grew and wider varieties of entertainment became available, like festivals. But even with more money, better clothes, and more comfortable houses, royalty and the ordinary people did not hang around with each other in the village square.

The Shakopee Renaissance Festival may not be historically accurate but so what? It’s entertainment, not a history lesson. Oh, and about those turkey legs people are munching on at the Festival; there were no turkeys in Europe. The tasty birds were first encountered by the colonists when they came to the New World. So, who ever invented the Renaissance Festival didnt think about history, they thought about the fun that people could have and that’s what is about, make people want to come again to this modern medieval  place year by year.