Blacksmiths had central importance in cities, towns, and villages of medieval times. Almost every village had its own forge or smithy where the tools required in construction such as nails, and doorknobs were made in addition to weapons such as swords and amours.
The fuel used in the smithy was charcoal and intense heating and hammering of iron were done before forging it into the required form.
Blacksmith Uses Heat and Hammer to Forge Horseshoe into Shape
The profession of blacksmithing can be traced back to pre-historic times. Thus the profession was well known even before the medieval period.
During the medieval period, almost every village in Europe had its own smithy and a full-time medieval blacksmith. While charcoal remained the most important fuel of blacksmiths during medieval times, it was eventually replaced by coal.
Coal is a natural mineral that forms over the span of millions of years while charcoal is a manufactured product created from wood
During the Roman era, steel instead of iron was used to make weapons in the smithy.
The difference between iron and steel is simply that iron is an element and steel, in its most basic form, is an alloy of iron and carbon
Why Was He Called a Blacksmith?
The ‘black’ in ‘blacksmith’ is from the black oxides that form on a metal surface when they are heated.
The ‘smith’ probably comes from an old English word ‘Smythe’ which means to hit or strike.
What Did a Blacksmith Make?
There was a multitude of items that could be made by medieval blacksmiths, basically, when iron or steel is heated it becomes flexible and can be manipulated into many shapes.
Doorknobs & knockers, locks, keys, horseshoes, metal railings, jewelry, keys, door knockers, nails, cutlery, letterboxes, Guild signs, farming tools, torture devices, and much more.
Armour & Weapons
A blacksmith would often be called upon to make armour and weaponry, especially in times of war, however specialists smiths such as armourers and swordsmiths increasingly made armour and weapons such as swords.
Medieval Armourer *Specialist Smith
As the medieval period progressed armour and weaponry became more sophisticated, and in time mass production industries sprang up in countries such as Germany and Italy.
Mass Production Armour
Various tools and instruments were used by a medieval blacksmith in his workshop, working on a heavy metal block called an anvil, heated metals were taken from a Forge and were hammered and twisted into shape.
Hammers of various sizes were used for different purposes. There were also punches that were used to punch circular holes into the metals for items such as horseshoes. Other common instruments found in the forge of a medieval blacksmith include chisels, axes, swages, drifts, sled hammers, nails, etc.
The Blacksmiths Craft
Two central components of the mechanism of making weapons by a medieval blacksmith were heating and hammering. The iron to be moulded into the shape of a specific weapon or instrument was heated in the furnace and then shaped by constantly hammering and twisting it into shape on the anvil. A medieval blacksmith also had a forge wagon used for the transportation of the blacksmith’s forge and instruments.
The customers of a medieval blacksmith included almost everyone from the common people to the nobility. Common people required everyday tools for farming and household use. Weapons were also needed by the common people as well as the nobility and the knights. Additionally, monks and clergymen were among the customer of a medieval blacksmith because of the iron required for church doors such as doorknobs, nails, and such.
Blacksmith Fitting Horseshoe
Medieval Blacksmith Forge
The room where the medieval blacksmith worked was called “forge”, also known as a smithy, and this is where various weapons of hunting and fighting were made in addition to tools for farming. Sometimes the forge along with the instruments could be transported from one place to another with the help of a forge wagon.
Summary of Medieval Blacksmith
A medieval blacksmith had a necessary presence in every medieval village. This was because he was needed by the common people as well as the nobility and the clergy.
He was responsible for making metal instruments and tools used in farming, weapons, and various metal objects used in construction. The metal objects were forged in a small room called a medieval blacksmith’s workshop, forge, or smithy.