Because I’ve been knee deep in research for a book, as well as reading historical fiction, different time periods are on my mind. This has caused me to wonder. If I could, just for a month, go back in time, where would I want to go? What would I do to survive there assuming I could survive the whole month? Could any of my modern skills help me?
Presently my favorite time periods are the late Middle Ages, the Victorian era, and, due in large part to where I now live, the American Revolution. One of the common themes I see in each of these periods is they are times of enormous and lasting social, political, technological, and cultural change. Maybe that’s why there are so many books set during these times. They are each times where people were shaking off the old values, ideals, and traditions and creating radical new ones.
Another appeal to me is studying how the role of women glacially started to change. Yes, women were still expected to be a wife and mother and those who didn’t fit the mold wound up a spinster living either with a family member or in a convent. However, this wasn’t true for every female and as time progressed, there was an increasing number of women bucking tradition. True, they were unfairly and conveniently pushed out of the history books, but a woman’s role continued to evolve.
In looking at each of these periods I’m trying to figure out which one would best suit my temperament and skill set. Even in today’s age if I was plunked down in the middle of nowhere I wouldn’t even begin to know how to survive unless I could walk to the nearest civilization. I have zero basic survival skills. For example, I don’t know how to start a fire if there are no matches around. So how in the world would I survive without any of the most basic survival skills?
The Middle Ages: Where, oh where, in the late Middle Ages would I care to be dropped in the middle of? Well, I’m no linguist so that eliminates most of the world so that pretty much limits me to the United Kingdom. While I don’t think the weather would bother me, kind of a fan of dreary weather, the political instability would confuse me too much. Although if I’m there for a month, shouldn’t be a huge concern.
I think it would probably be easier and safer for me to be plunked in a small town or work in the kitchens of some noble. Out of sight, out of mind. But that would get boring really quick. Not sure I’d be able to really learn anything and seeing as I’d be spending all day working in a hot kitchen, I would get little chance to explore.
Not to mention are the lack of anything resembling modern conveniences. Couldn’t exactly spread the word about germs or just basic medical techniques that could reduce infection. Might get labeled a witch.
Yeah, I think I can rule out the late Middle Ages.
The American Revolution: This era holds a huge amount of appeal to me. I have easy access to important sites plus it would be fascinating to see the forming of a new country. But it would also be heartbreaking, I think, to see divided communities. Whom would I trust? Someone might be posing as a Loyalist to gather information to relay to the Patriots and vice versa. Depending on where I was physically it could also be heartbreaking to see actual battles and the horror war always brings.
I think I would have a much easier and better surviving during this time than in the late Middle Ages. As a female and knowing how to read and write wouldn’t stick out too much. Options aren’t quite as limited. Spying could be fun. I’m so quiet I usually scare people when I start talking to them when I enter a room and look trustworthy and rather unassuming. Who would ever suspect me? Or there is the option of being a teacher as long I remembered to not introduce words no one has ever heard of. Have to keep a lid on all the knowledge regarding the American Revolution, too.
Might be too much. I can see myself accidentally revealing information at the wrong time. Too much of a chance of altering history.
The Victorian Age: This would probably allow me the most flexibility relatively speaking. I know I would not want to nor would I fit in well with anything resembling ‘society’. I don’t have the patience to deal with such arbitrary nonsense no matter where in the world it is. So the lower class for me!
I think my best chance would to be employed as a governess or a personal secretary although many of those were men especially when it came to industry. Funny how that changed in the 1900s. Or I could help out with a charity organization. I think the modern values of compassion for all would be very useful in this time period whether it is assisting with the mentally ill (something I would love to talk about with someone), in an orphanage, or some other place for society’s undesirables.
There is also the appeal because there would be a lot more life conveniences that I’m used. Indoor plumbing is a good thing as is a necessary chair!
In the end I would choose the Victorian Age. I’m just too ill-suited to survive today without modern luxuries so to be thrust way outside that comfort zone would make an already overwhelming situation worse. I also think my modern knowledge wouldn’t be as out of place as it would be in the Middle Ages or during the American Revolution. I wouldn’t worry as much about a butterfly effect in the Victorian Age. It was already a time period where there was a thirst for knowledge and openness to new ideas. While I absolutely love history, I would be fine with spending a month in a different time period.