Worst Medieval Jobs *Top 10

The people living in the Middle Ages often had to do very hard physical work to survive, and if you were not rich, your working conditions were probably terrible and you could have ended up doing one of the worst medieval jobs.

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Medieval peasants had to endure tough and dangerous working conditions that we can only imagine in our wildest dreams nowadays. The following list of the worst medieval jobs will give you an idea of what life was like back then if you did not belong to the elite social class.

From digging latrines and cleaning sewers to excavating ditches, these were definitely the worst medieval jobs!

1. Groom of the Stool

Being a Groom of the Stool was a crappy place to find yourself and was one of worst medieval jobs. They were in charge of cleaning the King’s or Queen’s toilet, which was not a pleasant task. That was their sole duty, all day long they cleaned the royal chamber pots.

The Groom of the Stool was a position in the royal household in charge of cleaning the King’s anus, making sure it was clean and dry. The title is derived from stool which is another word for toilet. One of their duties was to wipe his buttocks with a sponge, or wet nurse.

In addition to being the butt-washer they were also responsible for helping him urinate and defecate by handing him a bowl or a pot under his privy parts.

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2. Toilet Scrubber

Another crappy job was being a toilet scrubber’s, this job was basically, as you might have guessed, to scrub the toilets. This job was both smelly and dirty because of all the dirt that accumulates in a toilet that is not cleaned on a regular basis.

It’s been said that the smell emanating from an uncleaned toilet could be so strong it would make someone vomit. With no running water, soap or disinfectants at their disposal, the task was tough.

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3. Tanner

Tanning leather was one of the worst medieval jobs. This job required patience, and a suprising amount of skill. Leather is made from animal skins so the tanner must prepare the skin by removing all fur from it first

Then they have to soak it in lime water for about a week before putting it into barrels for another few days to make sure that all the flesh has been removed. This was a damp, dirty and smelly jobs in which you would always be wet and the smell would have be terrible.

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4. Chimney Sweep

The worst medieval job? Chimney sweep. There was a time when chimneys were an open passage for smoke from the fire in the home. When it wasn’t cold enough for snow, ash, soot, and other particles would fall down on people below (think of it like snow).

This made the air heavy with smoke. That’s where chimney sweeps came in. Because Chimneys were so narrow, young children we often made to navigate the inner parts of the chimney, this was a grim job that left you covered in soot.

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5. Gong Farmer

The Gong Farmer was often a no-win position. They were tasked with collecting human waste from the towns’s streets for use in fertilizer. This was an extremely smelly and dirty job, which made it one of the worst jobs of the medieval period.

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6. Latrine Digger

The latrine digger was responsible for digging the holes for the toilets and sinks in medieval towns. They were a very low class jobs, as they took care of all the waste and dirt of the town.

They were often not allowed to live in towns, so they had to sleep at their work site. They would be required to wear a face mask when working so they wouldn’t breathe in all the muck that they dug up.

latrines in Castle

Latrines in Castle (Toilet)

7. Leech Collector

The Leech Collector was the person who had the responsibility of collecting leeches from ponds, ditches, or marshes.

Most people believed that leeches were a cure-all for many illnesses, so this profession was in high demand.

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Plague Doctor Methods Blood Letting Sucking leech

The job of Leech Collector would have been one of the worst jobs in medieval times because you would have had to wade through muddy water full of leeches and other parasites.

8. Body Snatcher

Body snatching was one of the worst medieval jobs. Body snatchers would have to go into battle fields, dig up bodies and then dissect them in order to collect their organs.

A body snatcher’s job was not only terrible but also smelly, as they would often have to pick through excrement-filled intestines just to get a lung. This job is not for the faint of heart.

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9. Executioner

The executioner was the worst medieval job of all. Executioners were in charge of executing criminals by beheading them, or by hanging them or burning them alive.

In order to do this, they had to be strong enough to wield the axe and sharp enough so they didn’t miss their target with their first swing. Executioners also stank because they used their hands as well as their axes for executions.

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10. Rat Catcher

The worst medieval job of all may have been rat catcher. Rats were a huge problem for the people in the medieval period as they carried diseases that were very harmful to human beings.

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Rat catchers would walk around with a stick looking for rats, then kill them by either stomping on their heads or bashing them with a stick or club. They would then put the dead rats in a sack and collect them from various buildings.