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The Craftsman in the Middle Ages

Being a master medieval craftsman was no run-of-the-mill exercise. It took years and several stages to learn a trade. Boys who wished to pick up a trade either learnt it from their fathers or as an apprentice in a master craftsman’s shop.

medieval craftsman

The first step was to reach journeyman status, which took about seven years of training. Once an apprentice became a journeyman he would be paid a daily wage. To become a master, the journeyman would have to fashion a piece of work that other master craftsmen in the town considered of the highest standard; in other words, a masterpiece. Once he became a master, the craftsman could open a shop (provided he had money) or work as a master craftsman in someone else’s shop.

Craftsmen specialized in one area, in a quest to become masters and develop reputations for high-quality work. To maintain a high standard of goods, craftsmen formed groups called guilds. Every trade had a guild whose rules all craftsmen stringently followed; for instance, no work on Sundays, no work before sunrise, fixed prices. They also paid an annual fee to the guild. This money was used to take care of colleagues in physical or financial trouble.

Very much like today’s times, people in the medieval period needed clothing, shoes, medicine, etc., on a regular basis. Thus, craftsmen of different occupation were vital for collective trade and business. For instance, tanners specialized in making leather, which was important to cobblers and shoemakers.  In the same way, cloth-makers fashioned cloth from fibers and expert tailors created different types of garments from these clothes for merchants to sell in bulk.

Medieval Collectibles for reenactors and collectors 


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