The origins of the word ‘fair’ comes from the Latin ‘feria’, which means ‘free day’. In ancient Rome, ‘feriae publicae’ equalled a legal holiday.
During the Middle Ages the Church took part in sponsoring feast day and fairs. The main reason for this was lively commerce and trade translated into money and therefore revenue for the Church.
In England, a fair could only be held if it was granted a franchise by the crown. Between the years of 1199-1483AD, 2,800 grants of franchise for markets and fairs were bestowed.
Medieval fairs were held on and around a saint’s feast day. Thousands would flock to the town. Here, you could buy anything from hunting dogs, gloves, trinkets, jewellery and food. There was music, entertainment and luxury goods, such as spice and exotic fruit like oranges, figs and pomegranates.
In my story, The Trinket Seller’s Daughter, Emelin and her father are journeying to Reach fair. In 1201 AD, King John granted the town of Reach in Cambridgeshire a charter to hold a fair and I believe they have held a fair every year since. In 2001, Reach fair celebrated their 800th year anniversary.
I have a pdf copy of The Trinket Seller’s Daughter to giveaway. Please leave a comment and your contact details to be in the running.
The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
Medieval People by Eileen Power
Cover - Pink Petal Books / Winterheart Design