It is important to remember that domestic requirements were generally very limited, although there are records of very finely furnished interiors for elite residences. Seating remained a prime use of furniture. Benches were made in the same way as three-legged stools, i.e. legs were pushed into holes and pegged with wedges. Thrones remained symbols of authority: examples could include the Coronation chair, Dagobert's bronze throne and the silver throne of King Martin of Aragon. Chairs developed in England, France and the Netherlands, based on a box-like panelled structure, possibly derived from chest construction.
The chest was arguably the most important piece of medieval furniture. Chests, which, as previously mentioned began as dugouts or trunks, had developed by the fourteenth century into a type that was made up from solid planks, nailed or pegged together. From the fifteenth century, some chests were made using a framed construction thus reducing the undesirable consequences of both shrinkage in inadequately seasoned timber and the normal movement of wood in service.
Apart from chests, cupboards began to be made for storage (Figure 1.3). German exam
ples of Gothic armoires were most impressive, originally having been painted in vivid colours. The buffet, another display and storage item, was made with a stepped-tier construction for displaying silver items. It depended on rank how many tiers were made and used. A second type, not stepped but canopied, evolved into a cupboard as it became enclosed. The armoire or aumbry, originally a safe, became a livery cupboard, used to store food. Tables were based on the trestle principle.
The four-poster image of beds is not always an accurate description, as many had testers suspended from the ceiling or were fitted with a headboard instead. Italian beds were different, having head and footboards rather than a tester. Box beds remained popular as they were built into the fabric of the house.
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