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As a result of the markets, the medieval business world became dominated by the guilds. When merchants found they could accomplish more as a group rather than through individual effort, they banded together to form guilds. Guilds formed for bakers, butchers, grocers, millers, smiths, carpenters, weavers, mason, shoemakers, in fact, nearly every trade had its own guild. The guilds worked together to gain control of the market. They were able to purchase goods as a whole, and therefore much cheaper that if bought individually. Those who were not involved in the guilds experienced difficulty selling their goods in town, usually they were not able to sell in the town. Guilds promised to protect their members and limited competition from other tradesmen from other villages. Today guilds can be likened to unions.

Apprentices to a guild could be as young as twelve years old. They were taught a trade by a guild member. He would expect to be pai

d for this by the parents of the boy. An apprentice could live with his master for anything up to 14 years. The guild member had made a promise to teach the boy well and this could take time. Apprentices were not expected to get married during their apprenticeship. Going to the inn was usually banned as well. Once an apprenticeship was over, the young person now became a journeyman. He would be paid a wage and once he had saved enough money, he could start up a business of his own.


Two Apprenticeship Agreements for Weavers (c. 1250)

I. Arras.

Be it known to present and future aldermen that Ouede Ferconne apprentices Michael, her son, to Matthew Haimart on security of her house, her person, and her chattels, and the share that Michael ought to have in them, so that Matthew Haimart will teach him to weave in four years, and that he (Michael) will have shelter, and learn his trade there without board. And if there should be reason within two years for Michael to default she will return him, and Ouede Ferconne, his mother, guarantees this on the security of her person and goods. And if she should wish to purchase his freedom for the last two years she may do so for thirty-three solidi, and will pledge for that all that has been stated. And if he should not free himself of the last two years let him return, and Ouede Ferconne, his mother, pledges this with her person and her goods. And the said Ouede pledges that if Matthew Haimart suffers either loss or damage through Michael, her son, she will restore the loss and damage on the security of herself and all her goods, should Michael do wrong.

II. Marseilles.

April the ninth. I, Peter Borre, in good faith and without guile, place with you, Peter Feissac, weaver, my son Stephen, for the purpose of learning the trade or craft of weaving, to live at your house, and to do work for you from the feast of Easter next for four continuous years, promising you by this agreement to take care that my son does the said work, and that he will be faithful and trustworthy in all that he does, and that he will neither steal nor take anything away from you, nor flee nor depart from you for any reason, until he has completed his apprenticeship. And I promise you by this agreement that I will reimburse you for all damages or losses that you incur or sustain on my behalf, pledging all my goods, etc.; renouncing the benefit of all laws, etc. And I, the said Peter Feissac, promise you, Peter Borre, that I will teach your son faithfully and will provide food and clothing for him. Done at Marseilles, near the tables of the money-changers. Witnesses, etc.

Many objects that are used now were invented during the Middle Ages. A list of some of the many inventions are below:

  • Gunpowder-Gunpowder helped lead to the invention of the cannon in the 1200s
  • Silk-Silk was a new fabric that was used to make clothing. Only the wealthiest could afford silk clothing and fabrics
  • Glasses-Although they were not as advanced or attractive as those that are worn today, glasses were a major advancement in medieval life
  • Clock-The clock helped people keep track of the day and helped them schedule out their tasks
  • Hour Glass-Along with the clock, the invention of the hour glass helped keep track of time
  • Paper- Paper was invented in the 1200s to translate materials onto, write on, and draw. You can find recipes for making paper to create your own
  • Compass-The magnetic compass was invented in the Middle Ages. The compass helped explorers sail the seas and discover new lands
  • Windmills-Windmills were used as power sources both back in medieval times and now
  • Wheelbarrows-The wheelbarrow was invented to ease the difficulty of work for the serfs. It allowed heavy loads to be carried more easily and faster

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