Medieval Towns/Craftsmen and Guilds

Aus ZUM-Unterrichten
Meistertafel der Ulmer Schneider 1662.jpg

Guilds in the Middle Ages were associations or groups of craftsmen.

All craftsmen of a specific profession organized in a group such as the candlemaker's guild or the blacksmith's guild.

They played an important role in society. They provided a way for trade skills to be learned and passed down from generation to generation. The guild protected members in many ways. Members were supported by the guild if they came onto hard times or were sick. They controlled working conditions and hours of work.

The guild also prevented non-guild members from selling cheaper products.

Interactive Exercises

In each guild in the Middle Ages there were very well defined positions.
Apprentices usually were boys in their teens who signed up with a master for around 7 years. They would work hard for the master during this time in exchange for learning the craft plus food, clothing, and shelter.
Once the apprenticeship was complete, he became a Journeyman. As a Journeyman, he would still work for a master, but would earn wages for his work.
The highest position of the craft was the Master. To become a Master, a Journeyman would need the approval of the guild. He would have to prove his skill in a masterpiece. Once a Master, he could open his own shop and train apprentices.

Master and Servant

1. Parent brings a boy to a master.
2. Parents pay the master to house and feed the boy.
3. He is taken in as an apprentice.
4. The young man trains for seven years.
5. The young man becomes a journeyman.
6. Now he receives wages, which means he's getting paid for his work.
7. The guild approves his masterpiece.
8. Now he can open his own shop.


Do you know these medieval crafts?

Match the pairs.

Azulejo oficios-Alfarero en el torno.png potter
making pots and bowls
Azulejo oficios-Herrero7.png blacksmith
Azulejo oficios-Guarnicionero.jpg carpenter
making furniture
Azulejo oficios-Mimbrero30.png weaver
weaving baskets
Azulejo oficios-Tonelero.jpg cooper
making barrels and buckets
Azulejo oficios-Zapatero34.png shoemaker
Azulejo oficios-Panadero32.png baker

Coat of Arms

All Guilds had their own coat of arms:

Match the pairs.

Zunftwappen-Fischer.svg fisher
Zunftwappen-Sattler.svg saddler
making saddles for horses
Zunftwappen-Kürschner.svg furrier and skinner
working with animal skins and hides
Zunftwappen-Schlachter.svg slaughter
Zunftwappen-Maurer.svg mason
Zunftwappen-Tuchmacher.svg taylor
making cloth and sewing it into clothing
Zunftwappen-Schuster.svg shoemaker
Zunftwappen-Zimmerer.svg carpenter
Zunftwappen-Müller.svg miller
grinding corn into flour
Zunftwappen-Bäcker.svg baker
  1. Development
  2. Markets and Town Fairs
  3. Craftsmen and Guilds
  4. The Black Death