Medieval Craftsmen

Learn about the Lives of Medieval Craftsmen such as Armourers, Blacksmiths, Carpenters & Stonemasons.

Discover Medieval Guilds Rules & History *Find Out which Medieval Craftsmen made Armour, Castles, Coins, Crowns, Castles, Homes, Money, Swords & Much More!

Goldsmith

Goldsmith Craftsmen were highly skilled. Medieval Goldsmiths added Gold leaf to covers and pages of illuminated manuscripts amongst other things Read more about the Goldsmith >>

Medieval Armourer

A Medieval Armourer made high quality armour for medieval knights, and other nobility and warriors in medieval times Read more about the Medieval Armourer >>

Medieval Blacksmith

Medieval Blacksmith Medieval Craftsmen

A medieval Blacksmith was a very important person in medieval times, Medieval Blacksmith's not only made armour and weaponry for example Read more about the Medieval Blacksmith >>

Medieval Bowyer

Medieval Bowyer Making a Longbow

A medieval Bowyer as the name suggest made bows such as longbows and arrows as well as other products for people and the military. Medieval Bowyers usually worked in a shop in a medieval town or village. Read more about the Medieval Bowyer >>

Medieval Guilds

Medieval Guild Sign

Medieval Guilds were set up in medieval times to improve quality of workmanship and regulate medieval professions. Medieval Guilds also served to protect members and give them a voice in medieval society. Read more about the Medieval Guilds >>

Medieval Miller

Medieval Miller Using Medieval Mill With Overshoot Wheel

A Medieval miller could be quite well off as he could make and sell bread to the people that lived in the medieval village. The miller however usually had to make some form of payment to the lord of the manor who usually owned the village mill. Read more about the Medieval Miller >>

Medieval Moneyer

Medieval Moneyer Made Medieval Silver Coins

A medieval moneyer was a skilled medieval craftsman, he made (minted) the coins that were needed. A medieval moneyer worked from his shop in medieval towns and villages where he kept all his tools. Read more about the Medieval Moneyer >>


As the medieval period progressed, towns and cities became more established and prominent, populations increased and people had more disposable income. Craftsmen were in high demand and many were required to produce a wide range of products for medieval people.

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Medieval Craftsmen Apprenticeship & Guilds

Medieval craftsmen started in a trade usually at an early age as an apprentice. Medieval apprentices in the trade usually did the same trade as their fathers and learned their skills from them, in addition a medieval person wanting to be a craftsmen would usually join a specific guild.

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The culture of creating guilds for a particular profession took roots during the high and late medieval period in Europe. One of the main purposes of a medieval guild was to safeguard the interests of its members and raise a voice for their rights.

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Medieval Guild Sign of Baker

In England, the concept of guilds arrived after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Medieval guilds were formed for craftsmen, merchants, musicians and people from other professions.

The number of people working as Craftsmen grew steadily as the medieval period progressed.

Craftsmen

  • Freemen who paid taxes
  • Kept secrets of their trade within the family
  • Passed down their skills to their offspring

Qualified Craftsmen were either classed as Journeymen or Masters of their craft, Journeymen had passed their apprenticeship, but had not yet produced a ‘masterpiece’ that had been accepted by their guild as being worthy of the title of a master craftsman.

The Guild

  • An organisation created to look after the interests of members within that Guild
  • Guarded the secrets of the craftsmans particular trade
  • Provision of a decent wage was protected by the Guild
  • A long and succesful apprenticeship was the only way you could become a member of a Guild
  • Members of a Guild paid a yearly membership fee
  • Guild members could be asked to leave a Guild for breaking any of it’s strict rules

From Apprentice to Journeyman

Finally after all the years of hard work and training an apprentice would become a journeyman and at this stage he would be paid a daily wage.

A journeyman could then become a master craftsman, this was dependant on him producing an outstanding piece or work for the guild that was accepted as being worthy of a master craftsman.

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Medieval Guild Sign Outside Busniess Premises


Types of Medieval Craftsmen

  1. Blacksmiths *Horse Shoes *Door Knockers *Metal Gates *Armour *Weapons *Tools *Torture Devices
  2. Bell founders *Bells of all Types
  3. Calimala *Cloth Finishers and Merchants
  4. Candle Makers – Kept busy making candles as no other lighting
  5. Carpenters – Houses, Carts, Fences, Wooden Beams, Gates, Flooring, Doors, Furniture
  6. Chest and Trunk Makers
  7. Cobblers (Shoemakers)
  8. Coin Makers (Moneyers)
  9. Goldsmiths (Jewelry)
  10. Cooper (Made wooden casks, barrels and other similar containers)
  11. Harness and Beltmakers
  12. Locksmiths (Padlocks, Doorlocks)
  13. Stone Masons (Stoneworks for Buildings and Castles)
  14. Weavers of all kinds (Cloth Products)
  15. Wheelwrights *Wheels in high Demand for Carriages and Carts

1. Blacksmith

Blacksmiths were one of the most in demand craftsmen of the medieval period as they made a wide array of important everyday products that were needed such as keys, locks, horseshoes as well as armour and weaponry, in time specialist ‘smiths’ who were dedicated to making armour and swords called ‘armourers’ and ‘swordsmiths’ became more commonplace.

Medieval-Blacksmith-Anvil-Medieval-Craftsmen

Learn more about the Medieval Blacksmith



2. Bellfounders

Bells were in high demand during medieval times for many buildings such as Churches. Specialist medieval craftsmen had to be very skilled to produce large quality bells that were cast in moulds. Bells also required fine tuning so that they would hit the correct pitch and harmonies required.

Church-Clocktower-Medieval-Craftsmen-BellFounders

Church Clocktower

During medieval times bells were used on many buildings to signify the time, an event or as a warning such as

  1. Clock Towers
  2. Churches
  3. Public Buildings


3. Calimala *Cloth Finishers and Merchants

The Calimala were an elite guild of cloth finishers that were based in Florence in Italy which became a very powerful city under the ‘House of Medici’. they imported wollen cloth from France and other regions and used highly skilled techniques in which the cloth was dyed, stretched, fulled, calendared and finished.

Calimala-Cloth-Finishers-Medieval-Craftsmen


4. Candlemaker

Candles were primarily used for illumination during the medieval period. They would be used at homes, churches, outdoor feasts, and in greater quantities during special occasions.

Medieval-Craftsmen-Candle-Maker

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.


5. Carpenter

Timber (Lumber) was widely used in medieval times for the construction of buildings, wooden non construction products of many types were also in demand.

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Medieval Carpenter

The carpenter therefore was as important in medieval times as the stonemason. In the later parts of the medieval period new methods of working with timber using joints and trusses allowed for larger buildings of many levels to be safely constructed.


7. Cobbler *Shoemaker

Medieval shoes were made by cobblers who also repaired all types of shoes. However, medieval cobblers mainly made and repaired shoes for the common people.

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Cobbler Shoemaker

As for the nobility, they had their own shoemaker who was known as a cordwainer. He made luxury shoes with various styles that were exclusive to the nobility. Cobblers made shoes from materials such as burlap, hide, and wood.

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Cordwainer


8. Medieval Moneyer

Authorised to make coins from different metals such as copper, gold and silver that could be used to buy goods and services. Moneyers would have been licensed by the Crown and would have been allowed to keep a very small percentage of the money he created in payment for his work.

Medieval-Moneyer-Coins-Medieval-Craftsmen

A Medieval Moneyer mints the coins in medieval times

Read more about Medieval Moneyers


9. Goldsmith

Medieval Goldsmith’s were very important and weathly craftsmen in medieval times, who could even act as a bankers. Goldsmiths were metalworkers who worked with precious metals such as gold to create expensive items such as a ceremonial crowns or sceptres for wealthly medieval people such as Kings and Nobles.

Goldsmiths were members of important and elite Guilds and made products by shaping metal, they were skilled in casting, forging, filing, soldering and polishing to create products of a high standard.

Learn more about Medieval Goldsmiths


1o. Cooper

Coopers were very skilled craftsmen who made wooden barrels, casks and other similar containers. They were well established in England around the end of the 13th century and in high demand during the whole of the medieval period.

There were four types of Coopers that made Casks, some would make containers for dry goods, others would make casks for the transportation of wet goods and liquids. Breweries employed many Coopers to make caskets to store the popular ales that they produced.


11. Harness and Beltmakers


12. Medieval Locksmith

Locksmiths were in high demand during the medieval period creating many types of lock, the most popular of these was the fetterlock, which was used to secure livestock.

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Medieval Locksmith

Medieval homes often had several locks on their doors especially if they were important buildings such as armories and treasuries that stored valuable items.


13. Medieval Stonemason

Stone masonary was a highly skilled occupation, stonemasons might be tasked with building a famous castle, church or cathedral, some stonemasons may be tasked with creating an elaborate design or piece of work such as a medieval gargoyle.

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Medieval Stonemason


15. Weavers

Medieval weavers made all kinds of items made from cloth such as clothing from materials such as wool, flax, hemp, and sometimes silk. Weavers were classed as urban craftsmen and had to become a member of a guild which established a standard of quality for the work they produced.

Medieval weavers often worked at Home and used two types of looms

  • Warp-weighted looms (Earlier Medieval Periods)
  • Horizontal looms (Later Period 10 – 11th Century)


16. Medieval Wheelwright

A medieval wheelwright was in demand to make wheels for carriages and also repaired broken wheels, the name wheelwright means in Old English ‘Shaper of Wood’.

Medieval-Craftsmen-Medieval-Wheelwright

Carts of various types were in demand and carriages were popular modes of transport with wealthly medieval people such as Royals, Nobles and wealthy merchants.

Medieval Hay Wagon


Medieval Craftsmen *Weapons & Armour

As well as craftsmen who made general products that were used by medieval people there was also a grouping of important weapons and armour craftsmen who were specialists in their type of work.

  1. Armourer *Armor Smiths
  2. Bowyer *bow makers
  3. Fletchers *Arrow makers
  4. Swordsmith *Sword Smiths

1. Armourer

An armourer was similar to a Blacksmith, indeed medieval Blacksmiths did make armour and weapons, but as the medieval period progressed the advancements of medieval weapons led to the natural progression of specialist ‘smiths’ such as armourers.

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Once an armourer had specified the features he would use in the armour, he would begin working on every inch of the armour, using tools such as a very heavy hammer and rudimentary welding equipment.

An armourer would heat metals in a forge and then hammer and twist them into the required shape on an anvil. Great armour manufacturers sprang up in Germany and Italy where sophisticated armour could be produced quickly in large quantitie.

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Armourers Anvil

Learn More about Medieval Craftsman – The Armourer

2. Bowyer

A Bowyer was in high demand as a weapons maker during the medieval period as he made the longbows used in the many battles of the hundred years war between England and France during the Plantagenet period. A Bowyer could skillfully shape freshly cut wood splits into bow staves in just a few hours of intense work.

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Medieval Bowyer

Medieval Bowyer Making a Longbow

Learn more about the Medieval Craftsman – The Bowyer


3. Fletcher

A Fletcher either made the whole arrow or added the fletching to the end of the arrow, the fletching also known as the arrow flight is the feathers on the end of the arrow that help its flight through the air.



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