The Medieval Age was an important period during European history. It was during this period that feudalism rose in Europe and became entrenched as new kingdoms and empires came into being. It was also during this period that the foundations of the Renaissance and the modern era of Europe were made. This was largely accomplished through the advances in various sciences made in the later medieval period.
The occupations of the Medieval Age were quite different from those that exist today, although they were also related. Typical occupations during the period included blacksmiths, stone masons, armorers, millers, carpenter, minstrel, weaver, winemaker, farmer, watchman, shoemaker, roofer, tax collector and wheelwright.
A miller was someone who ground up the grains to make flour. Farmers who would grow wheat and other grains brought them to the miller. The miller then ground them up to make flour which was then turned into breads and other eatables. Mills powered by water flowing under a building were typically used. These comprised of horizontal and vertical grinding stones which crushed the grains by applying weight on it while rotating.
A blacksmith was one of the most important occupations in the medieval period. Nearly all areas of life used iron and steel tools at the time. Such tools were used in warfare, farming and a variety of other skilled occupations. A blacksmith would forge such tools in his workshop. In doing so, the smith used an anvil and a hammer to shape and forge various tools first melted into liquid form.
A stonemason was a skilled craftsman who would break, cut and carve stones to be used in buildings. Most stonemasons organized together as guilds. A mason was hired to carve and place stones in structures such as castles and churches. A quality stonemason with finesse in work was highly sought after and could earn decent money.
Although an armorer was a type of blacksmith, he specifically focused on creating armor for the knights and noblemen who fought battles. Medieval suits of armor required a great degree of skill and were very costly. According to modern estimates, a suit of armor could cost up to $100,000. Every suit of armor was designed to be specific to the dimensions and preferences of the individual wearer. So each suit was a unique project.
A minstrel was essentially a medieval musician. Minstrels could play a variety of instruments, sing poetry and songs, and typically traveled around from one place to another. Some were permanently retained by the wealthy noblemen and kings so that they could play when required. Minstrels recorded and popularized the heroic deeds of the knights of the medieval period. They would sing these from tavern to tavern, playing a key role in preserving information about many important historic events.
Carpenters created items of wood for use. They were important during the medieval ages as many important objects such as utensils, furniture, wagons and even parts of a building’s structure required wood items. These were created by a carpenter who could earn a very good wage from his occupation. Some carpenters were permanently attached to a wealthy person such as a nobleman or a king. The more intricate a carpenter’s work was, the more highly it was rewarded.
A baker was one of the most common occupations during the medieval period. A baker would bake and sell bread as well as other basic eatables made from flour. In some parts of medieval Europe, bakers would sometime swindle the public by selling bread at a higher price. To counter this, kings would then promulgate decrees to punish such cheating.
As the medieval age progressed, the laws of the land became more important and clearly defined. There was a need for someone to be able to interpret and argue with these laws. This is why a barrister enjoyed an important role in the later medieval period. Initially, local parish priests would serve as barristers but in time, a whole separate class of independently educated barristers came into being. They would be educated in the King’s law and settle legal disputes through arbitration.
Candles were primarily used for illumination during the medieval period. They would be used at homes, churches, outdoor feasts and in greater abundance on special occasions. A candlemaker was the one who made these candles. Although most towns had their own candlemakers, notable estates of noblemen retained their own candlemakers. These would be responsible for harvesting the wax from the bees and using it to create candles.
In the medieval period, an artist was typically someone who would paint a likeness of a person. Artists usually worked in the service of the famous and wealthy persons. They would be commissioned to create portraits of such persons for which they were handsomely rewarded. Some like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci were also commissioned to work on public works. A variety of materials and mediums were used by the artists during the medieval era.
During the medieval period, Europe was largely feudal and relied heavily on agriculture. As a result, farming was the main occupation of a large percentage of the population. Most of the farmers were essentially serfs or tenants who would be given land by the local lord who originally owned it.
They would till and cultivate it, reap crops and keep a share of the profits while giving the rest to the lord. Yet there were other farmers who privately owned land. The amount of land a person owned was often seen to define his prestige and standing.
A miller ground up grains and provided flour. He would use a manual mill which was typically powered by water to turn the millstones.
A blacksmith forged and shaped tools made from iron, steel and other metals.
A stonemason cut, carved and installed stones using in buildings like churches and castles.
An armorer created pieces of armor tailored to the person who would wear it.
A minstrel played musical instruments, sang songs and told poetry. Minstrels would travel from tavern to tavern popularizing poetic narrations of important events.
A carpenter cut and carved wood to create furniture, wagons, tools and other items.
A baker baked and sold bread as well as other items made from flour.
A barrister specialized in the King’s law and interpreted it to mediate legal disputes.
A candle-maker created candles from bee wax. Candles were extensively used for lighting at homes, churches and other places.
An artist painted the likeness of a person. They were hired by rich nobles and kings to have their portraits made.
A farmer tilled and cultivated the land to grow crops. Farming was the most common occupation in the medieval period.