Life in the medieval city was well structured. All knew their place in society and there was a sense of solidarity between the crafts. The growth of the population, however, this changed and soon won the self-interest of solidarity. Who did what in the medieval town? How were merchants and crafts organized? What with the poorest?
There was a clear division of labor in the city. Those who engaged in the purchase and distribution of products and commodities merchants or merchants were called. The others who were working in the production was called artisans. Mostly craftsmen worked from home in a modest workshop. Most craftsmen worked in the service of a merchant. They were dependent on him and got a reward in exchange for their labor. This was the normal system in the largest and most important industries such as textiles and construction. You can buy these artisans a little compare with workers now.
Besides these artisans had also small independent businesses. They worked without intervention from the merchants. They took care of themselves for their inputs and implements. They arranged their own work and made himself the sale. These independent entrepreneurs were common in the food or luxury industries. You can compare this group with the independent retailers now. They often had home staff.
Merchants working advantages and organization of a guild
The merchants who settled in a city first wanted to build a monopoly in certain products. They wanted to avoid competition from possible newcomers. So they made price fixing and subjected them the products to strict controls. To organize all this united dealers are in a closed club, guild. This guild also governed the common transport of goods to or from the same region. There were two advantages to this. So transportation was cheaper because the cost was shared by several dealers and promoted safety. To forge a link between the merchants, the guild often organized parties and other social activities.
Benefits and organization of craftsmen
The craftsmen also worked together to prevent unfair competition. They spoke fixed prices and wages down. Against these fixed prices must be good quality. These quality controls were well structured. Each profession was united in a craft. The structure of the craft not always arose at the same time and could also vary from city to city. Artisans of the same trade and lived mostly worked in the same street or neighborhood. There grew a great feeling of solidarity within each craft.
The fee that you had to pay to belong to the craft was often paid to sick people, elderly people or widows of craftsmen. One even went one step further in the togetherness. So they went to Mass and in the churches were various crafts in the radius chapels around the main altar own altar. The altar was dedicated to the patron saint of the craft. It had also organized militarily. Each craft was in relation to its members deliver a certain number of soldiers in wartime to protect the city. The craft was governed by a board of jurors chaired by a blanket.
From apprentice to master craftsman
If you wanted to be a craftsman, you have not learned this at school but by doing. So you started if you were old enough as an apprentice to a master craftsman. You lived with the master craftsman and he had to feed you well. He paid but not you. After a training period ?? ?? you were considered a full-fledged craftsman or journeyman. You, however, was still employed by the master craftsman. He paid the journeyman for his services. As an experienced journeyman could possibly be one more step higher and craft master. For this you must present proof of experience in the management of the craft, make a master thesis and of course have adequate initial capital. The latter was necessary because you own a studio, tools and raw materials had to purchase. For the son of a master was much easier than for a newcomer. A craft master was eligible to participate in the government of the city.
As already mentioned were merchants and artisans economically interdependent and you could find a lot of solidarity among the crafts. But as the population grew diluted solidarity. The number of craftsmen grew rapidly and as time went by, there was a surplus rather than a shortage of craftsmen. The merchants were their craftsmen arbitrarily choose which resulted in lower wages because they could be so self richer. The interests of merchants and artisans were no longer the same. The social groups in the city grew apart. One of their large profits, the merchants were the wealthiest group in the city. Influential families married with other influential families to preserve their wealth. They also avoid a lot of new people could join their financial surface. These people also appropriated the power to allow administration of the city. They formed the aristocracy or the money aristocracy. These people do not tolerate newcomers in their closed guild.
Shoemakers were often independent ondernemers.Ambachtslui, the second social stratum
The trades were increasingly closed organizations that newcomers hit it hard inside. The self-employed craftsmen like goldsmiths, belt makers, butchers and bakers kept their business and property like the family. Newcomers who settled in the city, had it very difficult to enroll in the registry of an interesting craft. Without such registration, if you do not exercise the profession. Established artisans expanded their business by marrying strategically. Upon the death of a craft master inherited the widow's house, the tools and the money. If she was childless, she was a sought-after party for ambitious companions. This was beneficial for both sides. The widow was assured of an income and the apprentice, the company was able to continue. Relatives of craft master were significantly favored over new apprentices. So they had to pay little or no money for their accession mastery. This measure ensured that the craft was eventually inherited. The group of independent entrepreneurs formed a second social stratum in the urban society.
Then you had the craftsmen who were not independent. They were dependent on the goodwill of the merchants and had therefore often the least pleasant and unhealthy professions. These were often serfs who had left the fields in search of a better life. They usually went to work as a fuller or weaver.
At the bottom of the social ladder were the outcasts. These were beggars and tramps who were dependent on handouts from others to collect food. They were the poorest of the poor who lived mostly in shacks outside the city walls.
Life in the medieval town