Merchants in Medieval Times
Medieval Town Markets and Guilds
- It was common for local merchants to set up stalls once a week in the square to market their wares.
- Merchants within a city formed associations to protect each other. There were Guilds for bakers, butchers, grocers, millers, smiths, carpenters, weavers, mason, shoemakers, and more.
- Merchants who belonged to the guilds had a higher social status.
- The Merchant Guild could negotiate with the lord of a land and get the trade levy he charged regulated. The merchants paid an annual payment to the lord who owned the land where the town was based.
- Guild members who fell sick were cared for by the guild. Burials were arranged and the guild cared for any orphans.
- Guild members provided protection of their horses, wagons, and goods when travelling around.
- Many local merchants struggled because they couldn’t compete with the selection of merchandise offered by traveling merchants who went from village to village.
- They sold food, raw materials, wool from England, furs from Russia, wood from Scandinavia, salt and wine from France, horses from Spain, cloth and tapestries from Flanders, glass from Italy, and silks and spices from Asia.
- They were important in establishing and maintaining connections among people in different locations.
Traveling in the middle ages was dangerous and hard. It was uncommon for most people to get beyond 5 miles of where they were born. But people did go on crusades to the Holy Land, Spain, France, Germany, and Poland
Traveling on foot 30 miles would take several days, going about 3 miles an hour. Travelling by horse 30 miles would take 3 days, going about 8 miles an hour.
The Town Merchants: http://library.thinkquest.org/10949/fief/medmerchant.html
Merchant Guilds in the Middle Ages: http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/merchant-guilds-in-the-middle-ages.htm
Business and Commerce: http://www.medieval-life.net/commerce.htm