Medieval smithy

Medieval smithy

The work of smiths – one of the first professions in history – became even more important in the Middle Ages.

History

Keywords

medieval, blacksmith, smith, anvil, bellows, workshop, master, apprentice, profession, weapon, tool

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Questions

  • What is the medieval organization representing the interests of people of the same profession?

Scenes

Narration

Forging is one of the most ancient crafts. Archeological finds demonstrate that it already existed in the Bronze Age. While of course it has developed a great deal over the millennia, it was only during the Industrial Revolution that the basic tools and methods changed fundamentally, when mechanical forging appeared.

Blacksmiths played an important role in the Middle Ages; they were respected members of the community. They crafted important objects and weapons with their hand tools. In towns, their workshops were usually located on the ground floor of their houses, and they advertised their shops with guild signs.

Their shops, known as smithies, usually consisted of two parts, the outer and the inner workshop.

Both rooms contained a walled forge, which was the most important element of the equipment. Smiths heated metals in this hearth, and after forging they cooled them down in a slack tub filled with cold water. They kept the fire alive with a bellows.

Anvils of various shapes and sizes also had an important function in the work: metal pieces were forged and shaped on them. The most important blacksmith's tools included the various tongs and hammers used to hold and shape the metals.

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