All About Renaissance Faires Logo

The Two Most Common Ways of Communicating Events During the Renaissance Were the:
Town Crier and the Town Wait

 

Town Crier:

The town crier is the better known of the two but the town Wait generally had more responsibilities than the town Crier.

Their duties were similar in that they were tasked with communicating with the masses.

The typical depiction of the town crier ringing his bell and calling "Hear Ye" "Hear Ye" is actually fairly accurate.

Although criers were also known to shout "Oyez" instead of the "Hear Ye".

After ringing his hand bell and calling attention to himself, he would then in a very loud voice make his announcement. These announcements could be anything from changes in the law, deaths of affluent people or the most hated announcement, tax hikes.

Most of the "news" type of things delivered by the Town Crier was not good. As a matter of fact, the announcements of things like tax hikes sometimes led to the town crier being attacked. The phrase "don't shoot the messenger" comes to mind.

Attacks were so common that the town crier was sometimes granted "royal protection". This meant that any attack on the town crier was considered treason for which the punishment could result in death.

Town Wait:

The town wait was tasked with communicating with the masses just like the town crier, however, the town wait used non-verbal communications

This non-verbal communications was typically done through the use of various musical instruments. Because they used mostly wind types of instruments, town waits were sometimes referred to a 'pipers'.

If a town was large or particularly affluent then the town usually employed more than one town wait. Some employed so many that the waits were referred to as a minstrel of waits.

Where the town crier's job was to announce 'news' types of items, the town wait was tasked with more mundane things like announcing or calling the hours. The responsibilities of the town wait was not the same in all towns. The towns changed the waits responsibilities as they wanted.

Some waits were required to play different tunes to announce different types of religious activities or services. This along with announcing the hours too.

We have all seen on television or movies where a visitor entering the town was preceded by a person, or persons, playing the flute as they walked in to town. Well that's was the town wait. One of their jobs was to announce visitors to the town.

As dawn approached, the town wait would also sing to assist the townspeople in waking and preparing to go to work or to a religious ceremony.

At a time in history when most people were illiterate and without clocks, the combination of the town crier and the town wait was an effective way to communicating with the masses.

 


 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2008 All About Renaissance Faires