12
$\begingroup$

How would a Renaissance-era shopkeeper, in a walled and paved city, notice that they've traveled back in time, right when they wake up, or soon after, like after 5 min and looking outside?

No dead people having returned to life and stuff either...

The time warp happens when they sleep, and they wake up in the same bed...

Personally, I'm doing Fall -> Spring of same year, and weather is similar, so can't use that...

But, I would like something that could be generalized...

Peasants were illiterate and innumerate, so I doubt that a calendar with numbered days would have meant much to them. For example, if they knew their birthday, they would probably know it as "I was born on Saint Anne's day," or something like that. – Ben Crowell 25 mins ago

I agree with Ben Crowell that calendar dates would not have been important. Daily life was structured enough by market days, the sabbath, and feast and saint days that most people would have had a structured sense of the flow of time, but "structured" in a way suitable for pre-industrial culture. (Also, priests would probably know the date.) – two sheds 15 mins ago

From: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/21304/how-was-the-current-month-and-day-disseminated-to-the-townspeople-of-the-medieva

... Which will probably be deleted soon?

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Same location? How much time shift? $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Apr 11 '15 at 16:16
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ He will notice the difference between fall and spring pretty fast. As in sees a deciduous tree, meets a farmer (or peasant) etc... Whether he could tell the direction of the jump would depend on the location, if it is his home area it will be obvious. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Apr 11 '15 at 16:25
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "Gee, the sun really doesn't look right today. .." $\endgroup$ – Sean Boddy Apr 11 '15 at 17:07
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Sigh. @Malandy, it will be on a different track in the sky. $\endgroup$ – Sean Boddy Apr 12 '15 at 0:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A craftsman would probably notice before leaving the door, if his inventory was suddenly that of 6 months ago. A smith might see a shop full of shovels and plows instead of the scythes he left last evening. And if his whole shop went back in time, his customers would be bringing in the "wrong" tools for repairs. At least in temperate climates, everything about life was seasonal. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Aug 9 '16 at 14:27
19
$\begingroup$

"Medieval person" is very vague. "Medieval" is 1000 years from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to the Urals, male or female, young or old, urban or rural, high or low class, brilliant or dull ...

The number one thing is that the season is wrong. Trees and other plants are in spring form, not autumn. The morning light has a difference to the sensitive -- but this person could be a blockhead. The food up in the rafters or wherever is less abundant. The soup left in the kettle for breakfast is made with spring foods, not autumn. There's piglets in the sty, not pigs nearly ready for slaughter. The sheep are newly sheared.

A lord might not notice any difference, if he doesn't look out the castle at the fields, until he got down to morning chapel and saw the "wrong" altar cloths for autumn.

Because odds are it's Lent. In Lent, no meat or poultry is sold in a city, only fresh and salt fish. Your silversmith is going to notice that as soon as he puts his feet on the street.

Hope that helped!

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Now we know it's a Ren shopkeeper. But remember that in 1500 the old city still has gardens once you're off the main thoroughfares. It's not like he has to go outside the walls to see a tree. Also, the birds will be acting spring: courting, nest-building, cheeping of nestlings under the eaves. We have birds nesting between our apartment ceiling & the roof, which makes us very aware of that. Note that near the spring & fall equinoxes the solar course will be much alike, not like at solstices. $\endgroup$ – Zither13 Apr 13 '15 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I went with trees a while ago, now I'm just updating the question in response to comments and seeing if there are better answers $\endgroup$ – Malady Apr 13 '15 at 11:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The mention of Lent reminds me that if the shopkeeper lives anywhere that has sumptuary laws, or just strong customs how to dress especially in Lent, then there might be marked differences in how people are dressed, according to the liturgical calendar. Won't apply everywhere, but when you're researching the clothing for the period and place in question it'll become apparent. And if you happen to land on a Sunday when you didn't leave from Saturday night, you'll realise really pretty quickly in a Christian country that it's Sunday when it shouldn't be. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Aug 9 '16 at 11:41
7
$\begingroup$

The obvious thing that everyone is missing is that their work would be undone. If a farmer harvested, they would notice that now the grain is standing. A blacksmith would notice that his metal is unsmelted.

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

I agree with @VilleNiemi that the people were much more aware of seasonal changes and nuances of climate, especially if a farmer or part-time farmer.

Let's say he's a craftsman and not as aware, but as he walks some distance he will get a funny feeling from subconscious observations. His conscious is filled with his silversmith or cabenetmaking business or whatever.

The nagging feeling comes to front when he sees a tree that had died and was chopped down last autumn (or sees a grown tree where a sapling was). In the town he'll see wear and tear changes on all the structures. Worst case is when he meets someone to do business with, and finds they are not on the same page.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The idea was that plants, animals, and farmers (vast majority of population; will affect everyone) have very distinct seasonal cycles. How plants appear, what animals and people do are not really same at fall and spring. For direction of time and extra hint, since he starts home and people used to be more self sufficient he will probably see something he made or fixed or that broke or was lost almost instantly after waking up. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Apr 11 '15 at 18:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi: or the bookmark in his Bible will be in the wrong place, if he's a daily reader. By no means all shopkeepers would be, of course, only the really grand ones. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Aug 9 '16 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ A “grand” shopkeeper is literate? And the OP states «Peasants were illiterate and innumerate». And he is asking about the medieval period, and if you didn’t know (quick Google for suitable link) see here. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 9 '16 at 14:22
2
$\begingroup$

If all else fails, some recent event will probably come up in conversation. Asking how someones daughter is doing when they haven't been born, gossip about the goings-on in the kingdom, something or another will be current to everyone else and months-old to you.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

The easiest way would be look at the trees. If there are leaves on the ground, it's not Spring.

Or go outside at nightfall and look at the stars. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, and you can see the summer triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair, then it's not Spring.

Or look at the vegetation on uncultivated fields (cultivated fields would make it blindingly obvious). If the ferns are waving in your face, it's not Spring, because they would have died back over the winter.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

A change of seasons is easy enough to detect. But if there was a change in YEAR, even a medieval illiterate could detect this based on the social cycle. Local nobles quantify the time they have been in control, there is the time between major events like weddings, funerals, births, periodic festivals, calls to war, a particularly memorable flood, astrologic phenomenon, etc. I suspect the displaced craftsman would quickly determine that they are in a different time just by listening to market gossip, and then narrow it down significantly with a couple of questions.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

His sheets, clothes and body are clean! Or at least cleaner..

Rumor has it that ppl didn't wash regularly throughout the year back then. He could have gone to sleep with a pong in the house and woken up to a breath of fresh spring air!

To top it off, incase your traveller is having a real brain-fog morning and didn't notice his own house was cleaner, all the neighbours are busy doing their own spring cleaning up and down the street.

He might not understand he had gone forward/backward in time but he would definitely notice the missing time!

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.