LARP Resources

 

 

 

  

Medieval Occupations

 

Ever have trouble deciding who your character is or what

he/she did for employment before becoming an adventurer? 

Here are some ideas and descriptions for actual medieval jobs

 

More occupations with less descriptions are also HERE


ACROBATS / ACTORS

APOTHECARIES

ARCHITECT

ARMORER

ARTIST

ASTROLOGER

BAKER

BARRISTER

BOOKBINDER

BOWYER

BREWER
BRICKLAYER

CANDLE MAKER

CARPENTER

CARTOGRAPHER

CLOTHIER

COOK

DIPLOMAT

DYER

ENGINEER

 

ENGRAVER

FARMER

FISHERMAN

FORESTER

FORTUNE-TELLER

FURRIER

GARDENER

GLASSBLOWER

GRAIN MERCHANT GRAVEDIGGER

HERALD

HERBALIST

HUNTER

INNKEEPER

INTERPRETER

JESTER

JEWELER

LEATHERWORKER LOCKSMITH

MESSENGER

 

MINER

MINSTREL

MONEYLENDER

NAVIGATOR

PAINTER

PEDDLER

PHYSICIAN

PLAYWRIGHT

POLITICIAN

POTTER

RAT CATCHER

SAILOR

SCRIBE

SERVANT

SHIPWRIGHT

SHOEMAKER

SPY

STONE CARVER

STORYTELLER

WEAVER

 


ACROBATS and ACTORS
Acrobats and Actors were important parts of Medieval life. The traveling circus (as we still know it today) originated long before the Middle Ages and was a great source of entertainment, morale and revenue for towns and cities. As most people lacked formal education and could not read, actors were important to portray various roles that told of topical and historical events.
  Though not much training was available for these jobs, those who held the positions were not highly regarded in social circles.

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APOTHECARIST
An Apothecarist was one trained and skilled in the arts of formal medicine. Though not as highly regarded as a physician, these workers devoted their time and studies to the arts of healing. Trained physicians were expensive and usually only retained and hired by kings, nobles and the elite. Therefore the Apothecarist served the common people. Commonly a monk or priest held the position and most available remedies came from the natural uses of plants, herbs and roots. It is believed that most of these practical applications were first discovered by the Celts and Druids.
  An Apothecarist who was a member of a religious order often charged a donation to his sect for his services. A layman who served in the same occupation could charge whatever fees he or she wanted. 

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ARCHITECT
Architects built structures, towns and buildings. Not only did they possess the knowledge to construct these things but they also had the skill to plan entire cities. Architects were highly in demand and were paid high wages for their services.
  As war spread across Europe during the Medieval Ages it was important for a king to have an architect who could build strong, reliable and defensible towns, buildings and castles. Much of the Gothic architecture that stands today throughout Europe was built during the Medieval Ages. Churches, castles, cathedrals and theaters were often not only functional buildings, but statements of a king’s wealth and power.  

 

The Medieval Architect had to have skill in math and a creative mind. In many cases is a city or castle was conquered by an enemy the architect would be put to death. Having his buildings mastered by an enemy was the ultimate sign of failure.

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ARMORER
The Medieval Armorer held a very important position in the workforce. Not only were his skills highly required by nobles and monarchs, but the commoners enlisted his services during times of war as well. The Armorer was usually a blacksmith as well but as war became a more frequent event, many blacksmiths could afford to relinquish their skills of crafting metalworks and strictly pursue the field of making armor.
   It paid dearly for them as a suit of armor could cost the modern equivalent of $60,000.00 - $90,000.00 or even more! Armor had to be uniquely crafted to fit its wearer and as such it was considered a specialty line of work.


Most Armorers were members of the Middle Class and were often very wealthy indeed.

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ARTIST
Artists were common during the Medieval Ages but only the best were conscripted by kings, nobles and the elite to produce portraits. Preserving the images and likeness of a person and his family served as a contribution to history and future generations.
 

 

The Medieval Artist often went from town to town seeking business but once an artist had a royal or noble commission and if his work was worthy, his career was made. Perhaps the two most famous Medieval artists are Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The mediums used by most Medieval Artists were varied. Most preferred oil-based paints that were manufactured by mixing different agents into berry-dye. Watercolors were also popular and enamel painting was in its early stages.

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ASTROLOGER
The study of the stars and planets was not a new science in the Medieval Ages but it was regarded as being mystical. The Astrologer did not only use the heavens as a reference but he or she also studied the earth, the weather cycles and the seasonal patterns. It was believed that through these things a better understanding could be gained for agriculture and other social successes.
 

 

Many astrologers posed various and opposing theories. Some claimed the earth revolved around the sun, others claimed that it was the moon that revolved around the earth. In fact, part of Christopher Columbus’s journey to the Americas in 1492 was partially to dispel a theory that the earth was flat. Sometimes Astrologers were accused of practicing witchcraft as their studies took them into unorthodox techniques and discoveries.  

 

The Druids were thought to be the first to seek a true understanding of celestial bodies and experts argue that the mystical Stonehenge is nothing more than a lunar calendar.

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  BAKER
The Baker was a common occupation but not as easy as some may think. In the Medieval Ages there was a period when bakers began cheating the public at such a rate that public outcry reached the ears of several kings. As bread was a daily staple of Medieval life, the bakers knew that they could charge a lot of money for minimal portions of their products. As such, kings levied laws against bakers stating that they were to lower their pricesand keep honest. In fact the common term “A Baker’s Dozen” (meaning 13 instead of 12) came from this time period.
 

 

Any baker caught selling less than an even dozen was strictly and harshly punished. As a result bakers began adding one extra loaf to be certain their count would be correct or even over the amount decreed by law. Good bakers were often invited and employed by the rich and elite as personal cooks and chefs inside the safety of castles.   Their duties included the preparation of dinners and large feasts. There were exceptional bakers of all classes.

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BARRISTER
The Barrister was a professional lawyer. Legal arbitration was popular during the Medieval Ages as people challenged claims to land, inherited holdings and even common law. Different provincial territories were usually subjected to the laws of the local lord who governed them. As such, litigation could easily arise between the residents of two neighboring communities. Often a local priest would be consulted to act as a Barrister but as times progressed people realized that there were high wages to be earned for the skilled and professional lawyer. After much litigation and arbitration arose and as disputes became difficult to settle under the umbrella of conflicting laws, a new system for order was instituted.

 

A policy called “The King’s Law” became the sole source of legal behavior permissable throughout sovereign lands. Each successive king could change any law he deemed fit but the people were bound legally to adhere to it.  Barristers became well respected during the Medieval Ages and helped to write and form many of the laws that we still practice today.

 

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BOOKBINDER
An occupation that was extremely important but receives very little credit is the position of the Medieval Bookbinder. This skill was very important as diaries, journals and manifests were being written during the time period. News of discoveries, law, science, medicine, technology and industry were recorded on paper and were then bound together in the format of a book by professional binders. As there were no machines for printing, each journal and book was meticulously and painstakingly handwritten. The Bookbinder had to be careful when setting the pages together to not tear, damage or destroy any portion of the manuscript. Many of these books still survive today in Churches and museums and serve as a testament to the excellent work performed.


Bookbinders usually joined a guild where they learned the trade as an apprentice.

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BOWYER
The Bowyer (also called a Bower or Fletcher), crafted and manufactured bows, arrows, crossbows and bolts. The effectiveness of the standard bow in combat was first recognized by the Barbarian armies of Eastern Europe around 1070 AD. But it was not until October 4, 1189 that Archers and bowmen established themselves at the Battle of Acre and proved the quality of the bow as a weapon. From that point forward, the bow became a standard weapon. It was easy to craft by those who knew the skill and was readily affordable to most people. Bowyers worked with a variety of woods and tools. A well crafted bow had durability and even balance. The skill was much in demand and remained a premier trade until the 1600s.

 

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BREWER
The Brewer made and fermented beers and ales. The process was completed through combining and aging hops, barley, wheat, malt and grain. The beverages were served as a staple of daily life and were consumed in pubs, alehouses, taverns, castles and homes. During sieges and combat, historical documentation often tells of ‘barrels of beer’ being delivered to the troops. The beverage was so important to the fighting men that a document even states that at the Battle Of Sempach on July 9, 1386, the fighting actually stopped in mid-battle so that wagoneers could deliver kegs and barrels of beer to each respective military.

 

 Brewers were permitted their own enterprise during the Medieval Ages but since their product was so highly in demand it often fell to heavy taxes and levies being placed upon its sale and at times, even its consumption.

 

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BRICKLAYER
Bricklaying was common labor and though it did not require vast knowledge or skill, those who showed agility at the work were often subjected to an abundance of employment and decent pay. Often was the time when a king or noble would receive news that an approaching enemy army was marching toward his towns and castle. The agile Bricklayers were then conscripted to build retaining walls and obstacles and even reinforce the towns and communities that were threatened. Not only did war contribute to the benefit of the Bricklayer, but events such as fires and floods were often left to his protection. By rapidly constructing walls and ducts, it was possible to divert fires and floods and thus spare an entire city, castle or town.
 

 

Bricklayers though quite common throughout the Medieval Ages were highly respected members of their social orders. 

 

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CANDLEMAKER
The Candle maker was a specialist with many talents. Though making candles was (and still is) a relatively easy project, the craftsman also had to have a knowledge of the bees that provided him with the substance to complete his work. Once the wax was made a wick constructed of cord or twine was soaked in an oil-based solution, inserted into the center of the wax mold and then the candle was either pressed or shaped by hand.
  Candles provided illumination and were also necessary for church ceremonies. It’s believed to have been in the 11th Century when a Candle maker by the name of Graham Overhill invented a candle with twelve markings (lines) on it. When lit at the top of the hour, the candle would burn from line to line at the rate of one hour each. Thus Overhill’s candle served as a clock as well.  

 

Though specific skills were required, candle making was an easy craft and it was never known to provide more than a modest income.
 

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CARPENTER
Carpenters were highly skilled and considered to be elite tradesmen. To become a Carpenter it was usually necessary to join a guild as an apprentice and learn the craft. Most items used during daily life in the Medieval Ages were produced and manufactured by carpenters. Homes, wagons, tables, furniture, tools and utensils were all the creations of these gifted workers. Knowledge of math, woodworking and the use of tools was required. Though many of the implements used were basic in comparison to those employed today, it can be argued that some fine examples of work were produced during the Middle Ages.
 

 

Kings and nobles often sought out the finest carpenters and kept them retained on their staffs as specialists. Furnishing castles and estates was not only done for decorative purposes but also to demonstrate prestige and status to visitors.   Thus a master carpenter was always in demand and could stand to earn high wages.

 

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CARTOGRAPHER
Cartographers (or map-makers) held a very important position in service to a king or noble. As information of terrain and the oceans became known and available, it was the job of the Cartographer to draw a detailed map of a given area. These maps had to be accurate for many reasons. For example if a king ordered his army to march into an enemy land he needed to know of land and topographical features such as mountains, forests and rivers. Not only did these places serve as barriers that were difficult for his troops to traverse, but they also provided his enemies with advantageous places to launch ambushes and attacks. As such, detailed maps were highly sought after. Also, it was important to note new lands discovered on ocean voyages as it gave kings the opportunity to subjugate new areas.
 

 

Cartography was also important to distinguish boundaries of neighboring kingdoms or fiefdoms. Sometimes devious nobles had false maps drawn and they allowed them to ‘slip’ into the hands of their enemies.  

 

The cartographer had to be an artist as well, versed in reading and writing and skilled with math and geography.

 

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CLOTHIER
Clothing was not an available commodity to the lower classes and peasantry until the 12th Century. In contrast, as the elite and members of the nobility could afford the lavish prices of clothing, those who made garments (called Clothiers) were sought after for their skills. Being a Clothier meant having a knowledge of various materials and how to assemble them into fine pieces of wear. The clothing of the time had to be durable, fashionable and decorative as even during the Medieval Ages, clothing was more of a status symbol.


The Clothier had to be experienced with mathematics, design and skill for assembly. If serving the nobility a handsome profit could be made. But when fabrics became available to all classes, the Clothier earned a modest living.
 

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COOK
It seems that during any time period the position of a Cook was usually thankless and difficult. The Medieval Ages were no exception. As methods for preserving food were not invented to any degree of effectiveness, Cooks often used salt to preserve meats and fish. The winter weather provided snow and ice to act as refrigeration but often preparing a meal was no easy task. Spices and extracts that we take for granted today were highly expensive during the Medieval Ages. Trade routes were still being discovered and items such as saffron, ginger and cinnamon came from the Far East. Thus, a delicious meal was usually enjoyed by only those who could afford the components to make one.
 

 

Feasts were held to commemorate holidays and important political events. These meals were served to hundreds of guests and sometimes thousands. It was necessary for the Cook to impress the friends of his lord or master. There are many instances on record, such as the event in the year 1302 when Sir Henry Campbell, master of Lamberth Castle, had his Cook imprisoned for serving a meal that was considered poor.   Though a wide variety of foods were available in the Medieval Ages, a good Cook only earned an average living with fair wages.
 

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DIPLOMAT

Those fortunate enough to possess the skills to become political Diplomats were often on the road to nobility and positions of title. The Medieval Diplomat served as a royal messenger and ambassador to the king, queen or noble he served. Diplomats would often be sent on missions to speak on behalf of the monarchy to rival kings or ruling houses. The Diplomat would negotiate political deals such as peace treaties, hostage or prisoner releases and matters of trade, commerce and economics.  

 

The Diplomat needed to be firm, loyal and dedicated to the master he served and it was also required that he have excellent speaking skills, the knowledge of reading and writing and a shrewd manner. If a Diplomat successfully delegated a trade or commerce pact he was often entitled to a percentage of the revenue this new deal generated. Therefore Diplomats were often wealthy people. However the astute Diplomat knew how to negotiate deals that not only favored both rival parties but also was to his own benefit.

 

The Diplomat could reap financial reward from both factions if he curtailed the deals to fit his own interests.   Often Diplomats were the educated members of the Upper Class and elite societies. They often held titles such as Count, Duke or Baron and normally retired with great wealth and prestige. 

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DYER
Dyers used their skills to mix different components to form inks, dyes and colorful stains that could add tint and hue to clothing, furniture, fabrics, materials and artwork. Not only did they possess the ability to decorate fashionable wear but they also provided scribes and artists with the materials necessary for them to complete their work. The Dyer had a multi-faceted job. Not only was the making of the various dyes difficult and tedious work but often it was dangerous too. Different berries and plants used to create the pigments often contained a degree of poison that was lethal if handled, inhaled or accidentally ingested.
 

 

Though the Dyer put his or her life in jeopardy by working, the wages earned were quite meager and below average. Most women held the positions of Dyers and though some were elevated to strictly work for the elite and nobility, most worked in small towns and communities.

 

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ENGINEER
Engineers are evident throughout history beginning in ancient Egypt and reaching a position of prominent status in ancient Rome. These skilled tradesmen were essential to the successful expansion of any political kingdom. Not only were cities and towns improved by their skills but warfare and daily life saw better odds with the meaningful contributions of Engineers.
  Difficult tasks such as building expansion bridges, reinforcing the subterranean foundations of castle walls, building powerful siege engines for use in battle and even irrigation and aqueducts were a few of the jobs Engineers were called upon to perform.

 

In the Medieval Ages without the refined tools, knowledge and materials available today, the above tasks were considered monumental feats of achievement. Not only did such things improve the morale and efficiency of a kingdom but it also stood to prevent disease in the areas of plumbing and rubbish removal and even served to be more productive in irrigating crops and providing water.  Engineers did most of their work by ‘trial and error’ and though kings and nobles recognized and acknowledged the wide margin for potential failure, such could end the life or career of a skilled Engineer. Though many feats were undertaken for the very first time, such enterprises were costly and put a strain on the financial reserves of a kingdom. However, Engineers were highly respected and were usually employed by the most rich and powerful kings and queens of Medieval society.

 

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ENGRAVER
An Engraver was a specialist who was often called upon to etch messages and designs into swords, shields, armor and metal plaques. An artist in his own right, he worked with a variety of custom tools to produce his trade. Though the art form has been modified by the advances in technology of today, the Medieval Engraver practiced his craft in a most time consuming and painstaking way. If the results of his work were unattractive or undesirable, the customer would often not pay or even had legal grounds to sue the Engraver for ruining a piece of private property. As such the Engraver had to produce quality work.
 

 

Despite being a specialty, Engravers were quite common throughout the Medieval Ages. The wages earned were generally modest but being conscripted or hired by a noble or monarch for a custom project could find him the recipient of high pay.

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FARMER
Farming was the most popular occupation of the Medieval Ages as it was an essential element to survival. A local lord or master would grant portions of his land to commoners and serfs and in exchange the people would till, cultivate and maintain the property to produce crops. What was grown was eventually sold at local markets at which the peasants were allowed to keep a share. Most revenue went to the local lord however through taxes and levies. In the society of the Middle Ages, a man’s status was based on how much land and livestock he owned. As both of these elements were critical for revenue, a private farmer who owned his own land could become quite rich. Crops were varied and depended greatly on how fertile the plot of farmed land was.

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FISHERMAN
The Fisherman was much like the farmer in that he provided food as a commodity and thus sustained the survival of towns and villages. Usually a professional fisherman worked on a boat owned by a noble or local lord. The work would begin at sunrise as the boats would depart to cast lines and nets into oceans, lakes, rivers and causeways. Fish tended to fetch a higher price in the market because of the rapid rate at which they deteriorated and spoiled.
 

 

A fisherman who had his own boat was not necessarily in a position to capitalize on free enterprise. Though he was entitled to operate legally by himself, most waterways were the legal right and claim of kings and nobles. Therefore limits were imposed on the private fisherman as to how much bounty he could haul out of the waters. Even then, higher taxes were assessed on him in the markets to ensure that the regent or local master got his due share.

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FORESTER
The Forester usually held a position equal to a sheriff or local law enforcer. He was responsible for patrolling the woodlands on a lord or noble’s property. His duties included negotiating deals for the sale of lumber and timber and to stop poachers from illegally killing animals in the forest. Many times wanted criminals would flee their arrest warrants and seek the safety of hiding in a forest. When this would occur it was the duty of the Forester to organize roving gangs of armed men to flush out the criminal and capture him.
 

 

Often Foresters held titles of prominence in their local communities and also acted as barristers and arbitrators. Their pay was usually above average and they could stand to make a decent and profitable living. 

 

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FORTUNE-TELLER
Fortune-tellers were often looked upon with disapproval from the ruling classes but their services were highly in demand. The Medieval Ages were full of superstition and very real belief in supernatural forces and powers. Most things that could not be explained by science or technology was thought to be the direct influences of these powers at work.
 The common people were normally quite stressed economically and therefore they viewed the Fortune-teller as a potential advantage to overcoming future difficulties. If their future could be revealed they believed they could take steps to improve upon it.

 

Most Fortune-tellers were common rogues and tricksters who used a variety of simple illusions to create dramatic effects. Though they possessed no real skill at all for divining the future, they would be careful to use basic events and information to project a scenario that was generic enough to fit into anyone’s situation. Once embellished with mild promises of prosperity it seemed a true magical experience had taken place.  Often though the Fortune-teller’s success was based on how much the person getting the reading wanted to believe. Some Fortune-tellers did use lunar and celestial patterns to predict probable and basic outcomes in terms of weather. These natural signs could foretell famine or draught or even bad storms. If a Fortune-teller had success in predicting these events, his or her credibility was greatly enhanced.


A few kings and monarchs did enlist the services of seers and Fortune-tellers to predict the future of their kingdoms and even the outcome of battles. Though there was a given ratio of success and failure based on mathematical probability, the fortune-tellers with luck and agility managed to earn positions of respect and wealth in some courts. However, most were treated as witches or dark practitioners. And in some cases when their foretold events did not ring true, they were hunted down and killed.

 

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FURRIER
The Furrier worked with the pelts and hides from animals. not only did he use the fur to make clothing but also rugs, blankets and even inner linings for armor. If a Furrier operated with wisdom he could become quite profitable in his trade.
 Different regions produced different animals and with careful and legal trapping he could import and export furs to different regions that were considered exotic and hard to get.  Hides and pelts were treated in a variety of ways, usually by coating the underside with an oil-based substance to protect it from deterioration. Then it was usually hung in the sunlight or a dry area so the liquid could dry and act as a sealant. The fur was treated with different powders and a liquid containing lye. This preserved the fur for quite a long time.  

 

Though some furriers achieved great wealth the common occupation paid very modestly.

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GARDENER
The Medieval Gardener was considered a specialist at his trade. He was mainly responsible for the upkeep and cosmetic appearance of castles and estates but he was also called upon to build defensive ditches and barriers during times of war.
 Throughout Europe there are many forms of ivy that grow wild. These plants tend to grow upward along stone faces and as such, castles were prime for this problem. Enemies could use the sturdy ivy to climb and grapple the walls to gain access. Therefore it was important to have a Gardener who could cut down, trim and destroy these potentially dangerous plants.

 

A knowledge of herbs, plants and flowers was essential.   Most Gardeners served some form of nobility or local lord but even though a portion of their work was critical to the safety and protection of a castle or estate, they were paid meagerly.

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GLASSBLOWER
From what has been recorded the occupation of the Glassblower was a specialty trade that required years of training. Glass was made my heating sand and water at extremely high temperatures and melting it into a near liquid. As this substance dried, tubes of metal and glass were inserted at which the crafter would use his breath to blow through them and shape the flexible material.
 

 

Guilds were common sources of entry for this profession and as such a highly skilled craft, Glassblowers often earned high wages.

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GRAIN MERCHANT
Grain Merchants needed to be wise in mathematics and negotiations. To trade goods and services a Grain Merchant or any merchant at all needed to build a list of customers. And once established he needed to maintain quality and timely service to keep them happy.
 Most traveling merchants either sold grain, wheat, barley, oats, hops or other commodities that could benefit a town or community. There was much competition in this trade and a ruthless manner was often held between rival merchants.

 

Once the customer base was established it was important to maintain a decent business ethic.   Merchants often grew to be very wealthy and retired with positions of title and rank.

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GRAVEDIGGER
Unfortunately the Gravedigger could stand to make a profitable living during the Medieval Ages. As epidemics, disease and war were rampant the Gravedigger was never short on business.
 During the Black Plague it was recorded that a Gravedigger named Marshal de Clare reaped such a profit that he was able to afford estates, manors, castles, land and livestock. Marshal de Clare later became a local lord, hired a retinue of knights and became a lesser ruling house in Southern England.  

 

No special skills were required for the profession but it did call for a careful handling of the tools. 

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HERALD
A Herald was not an occupation that someone trained for, but rather a job that was usually the appointment by a king or noble. Most often a domestic servant in a castle would be elevated in rank by receiving this appointment from his master. The Herald (or Harker) would declare announcements on behalf of the king to the public. Normally this was done on a given day when the public would assemble at the base of a castle tower and the Herald would shout out the news and proclamations or the Herald would do his job in the local town square. It was the responsibility of the Herald to inform the public of what was going on. (Note that many newspapers to this day are called “The Herald”)

 

 The only requirements one needed to perform this job successfully was a good speaking voice, the ability to read and write and obedience to a local lord. Two of the most famous men in the Medieval Ages who held the role of a Herald or Harker are Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the Canterbury Tales) and Nigel Gray.

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HERBALIST
A Herbalist was usually a member of a religious order such as a monk or friar. His main duties included the planting and maintaining of medicinal plants, roots and herbs. Different from a Gardener in that he didn’t maintain large estates or actively participate in forming defensive ditches, the Herbalist enveloped himself in the deep studies of medicine.
  Many herbs have natural healing agents and as medicine was still in its early stages, the Medieval Herbalist was a much respected person. Normally the church would provide a plot or tract of land that was cultivated by either religious personnel or by peasants who received minor wages. The Herbalist would then plant and maintain his select crops in the area. A lot of the plants needed to undergo treatments such as boiling, drying, steeping or steaming to bring out their healing properties and some needed to be combined with others to find the desired results.

 

The Herbalist therefore had an elaborate and involved study and needed the components of a laboratory to do his work successfully.  Those who belonged to religious orders usually did not stand to make high wages as they were bound by laws of poverty. However a layman who acted as his own Herbalist could sell his healing knowledge and services for extremely high prices.

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HUNTER
The professional Hunter of the Medieval Ages had many resources at hand with which he could earn money. Hunting was a special skill and though most people had the basic knowledge needed for survival, professionals often circulated among the elite nobility.
 Hunting was a popular sport during the Medieval Ages but also extremely dangerous. Kings and lords would hire a professional Hunter to lead their party. Often they would hunt for animals such as wild boar, wolves or even bear. Naturally the more tame animals such as deer, rabbits and foxes were the targets of the general populace but there are many stories from the Medieval Ages of nobles being killed during the more dangerous hunts.

 

Not only did the Hunter serve as a guide and expert, but he also had a knowledge of skinning, tanning and preparing the meats that were captured on the hunt. Also, he even managed to use the bones of the captured animals to make products such as dagger hilts and used the teeth for jewelry and other exotic items.  As a result, the Hunter not only made a profit from hiring out his services, but also made additional money from his skills and resourceful talents. 

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INNKEEPER
One of the most lucrative and profitable occupations was that of the Medieval Innkeeper, but only if all conditions were prime and if certain circumstances were maintained. Anyone who could afford the structure and property could embrace the free enterprise of having an Inn, however he or she was subject to heavy taxes and levies by the local lords of the area.


Owning an Inn carried a lot of responsibility. Besides the bedrooms the Inn also had other internal features such as a dining rooms and often a tavern or alehouse. Usually the fare for a room included meals as well. The alehouse was sometimes leased by a secondary business person and often a separate enterprise from the Inn.


Cleaning, maintaining and providing quality goods and services were the primary requirements of an Innkeeper. One also had to be good with mathematics and money and even have the presence of mind to calculate bookings and the ordering of supplies and inventory. Most times an Innkeeper hired a small staff of armed security guards. It was not uncommon for a group of fighters to arrive at an Inn shortly after their latest campaign. Rowdy and hoping to spend the spoils of war, the atmosphere inside most Inns and alehouses could be bawdy and even at times violent.


At the doorway to an Inn you could find at least one armed guard posted. There was usually a minimal entry fee to pass through the door, just a courtesy to help pay for any damages that may arise while inside. The guard at the door would take a brass or copper coin from the entrant and bounce it on a wet piece of wood. If the coin bounced once it was clear that the coin was genuine and the person was allowed to enter. Many times people would forge their own coins out of lead or cheaper metals and since Europe saw a wide variety of foreign money, it was often difficult to prove the authenticity of a coin. The practice of bouncing the coin off of a wet piece of wood is what eventually led to modern day doormen at bars and pubs being called “Bouncers”.


Many times nobles and elite personnel were exempt from paying any fees at an Inn or hostel. Though this was resented by most Innkeepers, they did receive fair protection in return. If the business was maintained properly, an Innkeeper could earn high profits.

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INTERPRETER
Interpreters earned excellent wages despite whom they worked for. There was a scarcity of people versed in more than one language and as a result, Interpreters were highly sought after by kings and monarchs. Not only did an Interpreter serve to reveal information about captured foreign troops, but also he could compose letters, laws and doctrines that helped with the subjugation of foreign territories.


Also it was necessary throughout the Medieval Ages to hold meetings, conversations and diplomatic gatherings with nobles and ruling members of many foreign countries. Therefore the Interpreter held an elite position and was often given rank, land and titles in exchange for his or her valuable services.

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JESTER
The Jester seldom had an easy job. Though some were professionals and made their livings touring from kingdom to kingdom, most were forced into the position as an act of humiliation.


King Henry V often enjoyed taking captured Knights of elite title and rank and forcing them to play the fool before his entire court. If the Jester was successful at entertaining his troops and guests, he would be hauled back to the dungeons after his performance to live to do it again another day. If the Jester did not provide gleeful entertainment he was often tortured or killed.


Jesters lived precariously and often their success depended solely on the mood of their audience. They did not earn high wages but were often allowed a few benefits and luxuries of life inside a castle.
 

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JEWELER
Jewelers held great positions of status within Medieval communities and towns. As foreign wars took troops into exotic lands they often returned with precious stones and minerals. Not knowing the value of them, it was up to the Jeweler to determine their worth.


Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires were the most common stones found during the Medieval Ages. Gold, silver and bronze were also held in high regard. The Jeweler not only held the knowledge of assessing values on these items but he was also skilled in setting the stones into rings, pendants, medallions, bracelets and amulets. The Jeweler also knew how to set the items into sword hilts and other placements that exhibited the status and wealth of their holders.


Jewelers were respected but there were many who knew the advantages of being less than honest. Stones with minimum value such as quartz, zirconium and even fools gold were not easily distinguished by the untrained eye of the public. Therefore it was common for a Jeweler to accept a valuable diamond with the promise of setting it into a ring or pendant for its owner. Simply, he would polish a quartz or zirconium of similar size and dupe the owner by giving him the worthless item. The Jeweler could then sell the original and more valuable stone and reap a quick and high profit.

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LEATHERWORKER
Leatherworkers were common laborers but their skills were in high demand. The crafting of sword belts, clothing, saddles and even leather armor were necessary items for Medieval life.


Though some preferred the protection and skill that guilds provided, many were able to learn the basics of the trade on their own. The tanning process was relatively simple and though most commoners knew how to do this, the products they made on their own didn’t have the durability of those made by Leatherworkers.


In order to be preserved, leather had to be treated by a series of steps. Tanning, hiding and even treating the material with oils and softeners were necessary to make it last longer and worth the money charged.


Leatherworkers earned a modest and sometimes decent living depending on the quality of their skills.

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LOCKSMITH
Locksmiths were integral parts of Medieval society. Though most homes held little more than an internal wooden slide lock on the insides, Locksmiths became important with the developments and security of castles.


Their talents were in the beginning stages but an intricate lock that resisted the efforts of picking or tampering was soon highly valued. Criminals and the residents of dungeons often escaped rather easily when not secured with locks or shackles. To maintain security Locksmiths were trained in guilds and the secrets of their craft were kept highly guarded.


As such, Locksmiths were considered to possess the knowledge and skills of a specialty organization and as a result earned high wages.
 

 

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MESSENGER
Another popular phrase of today that stemmed from the Medieval Ages is “Don’t kill the messenger”. The occupation of a Messenger was often dangerous but had its merits.


Usually the Messenger was a lesser diplomat of sorts and spent his time in service to a king or local lord. When news or a response to an inquiry needed to be delivered to a rival ruling house it was the job of the Messenger to undertake the duty.


When the message delivered was less than favorable the Messenger was often the victim of the incurred wrath. Often times the Messenger would be inadvertently blamed and either imprisoned or killed. This led to legislation and laws being passed which eventually made the Messengers exempt from punishment due to the news they delivered.


Messengers had to be skilled in topographical knowledge, horsemanship and had to be articulate. They needed the skills of reading and writing and often received high wages for their dangerous services.

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MINER
Miners also held very dangerous jobs and often worked in extremely precarious environments. The need to mine gold and silver was paramount as most kingdoms increased their financial reserves by depending on these resources. Miners were not overly skilled workers but it did require a bold resilience to perform the duties.


Apart from the collapsing of mines, deadly gasses and cave-ins, the Miner had to endure several days at a time beneath ground. His wages were above the standard pay in exchange for his difficult services but often Miners led modest lives.

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MINSTREL
Minstrels were musicians. Various instruments included the mandolin, fife, flute, dulcimer, drums, violin and harpsichord. A great deal of skill and training was required to become a professional musician and those lucky enough to have proficiency on an instrument often found themselves entertaining kings and nobles for high wages.


Minstrels often would record the deeds of heroic knights and go from tavern to tavern playing these odes of homage. Not only did it make for an interesting song, but it gave the knight publicity and established a degree of respect and staus for him. Throughout the Medieval Ages, Bards became the popular employees of any knight or common man who wanted their deeds enshrined in a public song. The deeds were embellished of course but it was a wonderful way to spread the fame of a knight from kingdom to kingdom.
 The talented Minstrels and Bards frequently charged high prices for these services

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MONEYLENDER
Banking was still in its developmental stages during the Medieval Ages but there was always work to be found for a professional Moneylender. As kings needed to increase their private funds to hire armies and finance campaigns, they often sought the services of such an individual.


The Moneylender was able to set his own rules and since he was offering his personal finances, he was often exempt from taxes and levies. His money was often referred to as his “interest” being that it was the primary element of his business. When lending money he would make his profit by charging a percentage of the sum he was lending, to be paid back with the total owed. Therefore if he lent 100 gold pieces to someone, he could charge 25% on his “interest” and he would eventually receive 125 gold pieces back. His rates of “interest” could vary and if a debtor could not repay the loan, the Moneylender was entitled to seize land, livestock and holdings equal to what was owed.


The term “interest” still survives today and is commonplace with banks and financial institutions. The Moneylender often made a lavish living.

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NAVIGATOR
The Navigator usually worked closely with a Cartographer. His sole job was steering vessels on a safe and even path to new destinations. Mainly they kept their bearings and charted their courses by using reference points in the skies by means of planets or stars. As they held steady positions in relation to the earth, it was often easy for a trained Navigator to practice his trade.


Navigators also worked on the ground, guiding armies, troops, diplomats and messengers through various features of terrain. Their services were highly regarded and as a result they were well paid.

 

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PAINTER
Though it is commonly believed that most Medieval towns and cities were quite drab, this is a misconception. Communities were often highly decorated with wreaths and color. The professional Painter was regarded as a tradesman who could bring new residents to a community and also keep morale high by providing an attractive place to live.


Festivals and tournaments saw great need for the Painter as his services were in demand to produce lively environments. Though some skill was required it was basically a trade that did not demand any formal training. Painters earned modest wages but when conscripted by the service of kings or nobles, could make a hefty profit.
 

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PEDDLER
The Peddler was a common merchant and often went from town to town selling whatever goods he had to offer. The items could be anything from novelty items to candles or even tourist-styled souvenirs.


Usually the Peddler was an enterprising business person but often stood to make meager earnings as their profits were subjected to high taxation by the lords and nobles of the communities they did business within.


One seldom found a rich Peddler and often it was a means of basic survival.

 

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PHYSICIAN
Physicians were very highly regarded and respected. Though their positions were deemed prominent it took about a full century before their work was completely accepted.


More skilled than an Apothecarist or Herbalist, the Physician was capable of prescribing new medicines and performing types of surgery. These services were often limited and dependant on the heavy purses of the rich and elite and as such, many a commoner and peasant died simply because they could not afford the services.


The Physician saw much opposition to his career during the 13th Century. Many of his practices such as bleeding, lancing and surgical techniques were deemed to be against the teachings and doctrines of Church Law. Therefore anyone wise enough to know they needed the professional services of a Physician knew also that they could risk punishment or excommunication by the Church.


During the 14th Century though the Church gradually began to accept the merciful work of Physicians and they became wealthy and earned elaborate lifestyles.

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PLAYWRIGHT
Playwrights were necessary for many reasons. Good ones were difficult to find and those who enjoyed success at this trade were continually hired by kings and monarchs on a regular basis.


As most people could not read or write during the Medieval Ages, it was important to act out history or crucial events in the form of a play. This preserved history and gave the common people an understanding of how things were gained and achieved.


The Playwright wrote his texts in the format of scripts and then hired Acrobats and Actors to fill the roles. Often these performances would take place in town squares or anywhere in which a public audience could assemble. Many Playwrights attempted controversial issues as the subject matter for their plays and were subsequently arrested, imprisoned or executed. The wise Playwright hovered around topics that were favorable by kings and law and enjoyed great success and high wages.


Though at the end of the Medieval Ages, William Shakespeare (born 1564) was the most popular Playwright of the time period.

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POLITICIAN
Medieval Politicians served in many different capacities. Whereas a local lord ruled the lands of his fiefdom, the local people were often allowed to elect their own sheriffs, mayors and delegates to handle matters on smaller levels. All matters of grave importance though were left to the decisions of arbitrators, barristers and of course the local lord himself.


A Sheriff was a minor political post that carried great weight and authority. Often answerable to the local lord his duties included the enforcement of law throughout the local communities.


The Mayor was the voice of the people. Any concerns of the commoners were put forth to the Major and either he could resolve the matters personally or seek the counsel of a barrister or his local lord.


Delegates operated between the Sheriff and Mayor and often were directly in contact with the people. When concerns or issues were raised the Delegates would call meetings between the Sheriff and Mayor and attempt to resolve the matters. The entire system was subject to the law of the local lord but many times these lesser legislative bodies were effective in their duties.


Wages varied but usually Politicians had above average livings.

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POTTER
Potters were crafters of earthen works and dealt mainly in clay molds, porcelains and early forms of ceramics. Basically they produced pots for cooking and storage and at times sculpted icons and statues to order.


Potters were usually members of guilds and worked closely with molds, tools and heating kilns. Their craft was well respected and though their products were much in demand on a daily basis, their wages were usually average.

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RAT CATCHER
Though the very name of this position seems like a menial occupation, Rat Catchers were very highly regarded in Medieval society and in fact, their work was rather respected.


Rats, mice and vermin were often the cause of epidemics and disease. Therefore a crafty and skillful Rat Catcher could earn stunning wages in ridding a city or town of its pest problems. Often the work did take the professional Rat Catcher into undesirable places and he did risk his own health and safety by coming into contact with diseased and often rabid rodents.


However when he was successful at his trade he managed to gain local confidence and increase his personal revenue. The Black Plague which killed over one-third of Europe’s population was mainly spread by the infected fleas that were carried by rodents. Rat Catchers employed cats and means of trapping to bring the problem under control and end one of the greatest and most damaging epidemics to ever spread across an entire continent.

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SAILOR
Sailors often led lonely and hard lives and it was a most difficult occupation during the Medieval Ages. It required a firm will and dedication as vessels would often set sail for months or even a year at a time.


During voyages Sailors each had specific duties equal to the level of their station. Overseeing the operation of a vessel at sea was difficult enough but Sailors were constantly at work from sunrise to sunset. This served to keep the Sailor busy and keep him from growing bored and discontented by the long hours at sea.


Before the official formations of Navies, Sailors mainly sailed on ships owned by kings, nobles and monarchs. Their pay was based on their rank. A common Sailor earned very little while a First Mate or Boatswain earned much more substantial wages.


Sailors needed training in the handling of the vessel, their duties at sea and even ocean combat. The Sailor did not come into his full respect until the advent of the Crusades when he became an important and key figure. Sailors ferried troops, supplies, horses and food stores from secured ports, through hostile waters and re-supplied the armies. Sailors were often a unique breed and their main goal was to eventually reach Officer and receive command of their own vessel.
 

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SCRIBE
To become a Scribe required skills in reading, writing and comprehension. Scribes not only wrote volumes of works on the Medieval Ages but were also often asked to research laws and other matters for kings and nobles.
The Scribe was often a historian, poet and philosopher. His acquired knowledge was advantageous at the workings of social interaction and his skills provided a written overview of the time period.


Scribes usually were of nobility in that the education needed to attain the post was not affordable or available to peasant and common classes. Most Scribes came from religious abbeys where the skills were learned within the vast libraries of the church.


Their wages were usually standard and average, however the Scribe was entitled to all the benefits and luxuries of castle life.

 

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SERVANT
There were advantages and disadvantages of being a domestic Servant. Though the work was often tedious, menial and hard it was worthwhile if you were in service to a kind lord or master. However, the difficult work when coupled with a rude or abusive employer often led to hardship throughout a Servant’s life.


Usually Servants were conscripted if they possessed talents and abilities that were useful inside a castle. Such things as cooking, baking, sewing, dying, weaving or performing music could attract the attentions of a local lord. If these conditions were met and the service was satisfactory, the Servant enjoyed the mild benefit and protection of working within a castle.


Sometimes victorious knights would take their prisoners back to their homelands and indenture them as Servants. This could be most embarrassing if the capture person was an enemy knight. But while waiting to be ransomed or in order to work off his debt, the enemy knight had no other choice but to lower himself to the dutiful position of a Servant.
 

 

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SHIPWRIGHT
The Shipwright (or Shipwane) was a skilled specialist who built and designed boats and vessels. The most prominent and effective design came out of the Dark Ages with the Viking Longboat. Modifications to that ship led to more successful and safe sea journeys.


Having great knowledge of mathematics, design and science, the Shipwright was a master craftsman. Often earning high wages and a lavish living, their services were often demanded by kings and monarchs.
Their craft was in demand throughout the entirety of the Medieval Ages and Shipwrights gained more respect in England when their designed vessels defeated the Spanish Armada, a flotilla deemed unable of conquer.


Guilds usually provided the training but once a person achieved the status of a Shipwright his future was guaranteed to be profitable.


 
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SHOEMAKER
Shoemakers (or cobblers) were often common laborers who designed and made footwear. Anything from shoes fashioned from burlap, hide or leather to elaborate and fancy boots made from reptile skins. Their work was regarded as necessary but as the materials they worked with fetched high prices, not all were able to afford them.


Shoemakers eventually curtailed their businesses to suit the needs of most people and designed lesser pieces of footwear from cloth and even wood. Though they appealed to the mass populace and even though their product was necessary, Shoemakers often earned only average wages.


 
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SPY
It was a wise king or monarch that kept informed of what was going on in rival and neighboring communities and towns. Therefore it became necessary to hire Spies to secretly find out what was afoot.


Contrary to popular belief, most Spies were women. It was generally accepted that women could move in certain social circles more easily than men and using their inherent charm, could naturally coax more information out of trusted employees of rival houses.


These Spies were often trained with the uses of various skills such as reading, writing and often speaking more than one language. They were also trained assassins and took oaths that obligated them to take their own lives rather than risk being caught by an enemy.


Spies were usually paid high wages and were given the luxuries of castle life.


 
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STONE CARVER
Stone Carvers were important in Medieval society. Their work consisted of a broad range of talents from etching tombstones to carving tools and statues.


Members of this profession usually acquired their skills through joining a guild. The guild also included masons and sometimes bricklayers, but normally Stone Carvers were in a grouping of their own.


Most of their work took great durations of time to perform and it was often necessary to retain a Stone Carver for many months. The crafty ones knew how to further extend each project and though they produced quality work, they could thus earn more money.


Their wages were usually higher than average and a Stone Carver could earn a decent living.


 
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STORYTELLER
Storytelling was an integral part of Medieval life. As most people lacked the ability to read and write, history, legends and folklore were passed along from generation to generation through skilled Storytellers.


No special abilities were acquired to hold this position except for a decent memory. However, the more industrious Storytellers also knew how to read so that they could widen their collection of stories. Sadly, a great number of Storytellers often embellished facts and added untrue elements to make their stories more exciting and incredible. While this provided entertainment for their audiences, historical facts often became distorted.


On average, Storytellers did not usually earn wages for their services unless they were hired to perform at social gatherings. A few though did manage to earn modest livings at the craft by entertaining kings and monarchs.

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WEAVER
Weavers held many talents and abilities that were useful and practical in Medieval society. Their work ranged from weaving clothes and baskets to making durable furniture and crafts.


Though no guilds really existed to protect or train a Weaver, the skill was more acquired and passed on as an alternate means of a hobby. Most people knew how to weave to some extent but those who made a business out of it often enjoyed minimal success. However some were crafty enough to protect the secrets of the trade in areas where weaving was not predominant and as such enjoyed success within the job.
 


 
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