A medieval castle was basically a military unit coupled with the residence of a lord. A medieval castle was usually huge within its walls, and within its walls, a large community of people worked and lived. These included the lord and his family as well as the large number of people employed by the lord.
All menial tasks as well as the security of the castle, its upkeep and maintenance, the storage of different items, the maintenance of hunting and combat gear, and the procurement of food and weapons, were tasks performed by specific personnel within a medieval castles.
Large castles had other specialized workers as well such as messengers, ditchers, carters, and dyers.
The top jobs in a medieval castle were of an administrative nature. Those employed at such jobs were typically required to overlook a large number of workers under them and ensure that each performed his or her tasks well.
Such jobs were usually given to persons of noble or gentry families and came with handsome perks from the castle’s lord. Most notable among such jobs was that of the Steward who effectively looked after the entire household.
Chamberlain was also an important position since the person occupying directly reported to the lord and his family. The ‘Master of the Wardrobe’ looked after the wardrobe of the lord, so his position also carried importance. The constable, charged with horses, grooms and page formed a vital part of the administrative hierarchy.
Hunting was a fairly popular activity among the medieval lords, as a result, most medieval castles typically housed a number of workers dedicated to the upkeep and maintenance of the hunting gear and hunting animals.
The most notable worker related to hunting was the master huntsman. This was a prestigious job and the master huntsman directly served the lord when carrying out the hunt, also essentially making the hunt happen with his skill and expertise.
The master-falconer was also a very important worker in a medieval castle, looking after the training of the falcons to be used by the lord for hunting. The castle also employed a number of other servants to handle the dogs, groom the horses and maintain the equipment to be used in hunting.
One of the most important parts of a medieval castle was the kitchen. Medieval castles commanded a huge kitchen staff. This was because every day, a significant number of household members dined at a medieval castle.
The workers employed in a noble household’s kitchen were tasked with procuring the food, storing it, preparing it for meals, and then serving it. The kitchen was the unit where the food was procured, stored, processed and cooked for the household.
Among the notable positions associated with a medieval castle’s kitchen were those of the head cook, butler, confectioner, larderer, butler, and cellarer. The head cook was at the top of the hierarchy of kitchen workers and overlooked a large number of workers who assisted him in cooking daily meals for the household.
The kitchen was also tasked with cooking large feasts on certain occasions.
The cooked meal was then transported to the Great Hall under the supervision of the butler where it was then served by footmen.
Other specialized personnel associated with kitchen affairs were the pantler who looked after the pantry and the butler who took care of the storage of drinks and their serving at mealtimes.
Large castles would employ other specialized personnel such as confectionery, cellarer, spicer, and larderer.
The medieval castle was primarily a military fortification that doubled as the lord’s residence. Consequently, military affairs were of utmost importance within a medieval castle. The lord of the castle typically employed a sizable number of military troops.
The most notable among these were the knights whom the lord employed, trained, and prepared for battlefield combat on horseback. These knights would then accompany their lord whenever the lord fought in a battle.
Next came esquires who were young boys of noble origins. The esquires accompanied the knights and served as their apprentices. Finally, the lord also employed a number of employees to man the gates of the castle and to serve as the guardians at the entrances. A large number of persons in the employ of the castle were concerned with such military duty.
The castle would furnish weapons, training, food, and other perks for such personnel in return for their duty.
While a medieval castle employed a large number of employees, some of the most important apart from military personnel included the steward, the chamberlain, the constable, the marshal, the master of the wardrobe, the huntsman, and the cook. The Steward was tasked with overlooking the body of servants engaged in household affairs and essentially served as their head.
The Constable looked after the horses and the pages and was concerned with the upkeep of the stables.
The Master of the wardrobe directly maintained the lord’s dresses and helped prepare them for daily use.
The Cook was the head of the servants engaged in the kitchen and it was his job to prepare food at mealtimes every day.
In larger castles, dedicated servants were also employed for hunting. The most notable employee in this regard was the huntsman who was usually of noble origins and was highly esteemed by the lord.
Medieval Castles usually housed a powerful lord who employed a large number of people.
These included servants who served the family of the lord in the residential quarters, servants who worked in the kitchen, those who served the food at mealtimes, and other servants who were employed in notable positions such as those the chamberlain, constable, and steward.
While most servants usually came from peasant origins, positions of importance were usually given to persons of noble or gentry origins. Smaller castles usually had limited staff, numbering a few dozen employees. More significant and large castles often employed hundreds of employees and were fairly bustling affairs.