Most people had knives and spoons, but a fork was very rare and an oddity until the 1700s. Usually only the wealthy had plates and cups of their own. Lower classes shared plates in pairs. People also had trenchers – thick unleavened bread, which was essentially a bread plate.
The leftover trencher was given to the poor, dogs or sometimes eaten by the diner himself. Over time, however, the trenchers were replaced by a square piece of wood with a circular pit in the middle. Those were the ancestors of modern plates.