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During the medieval period there were 3 places medieval blacksmiths obtained their metal. It is estimated that all major villages and towns across Europe would have their own blacksmith. This article looks into depth into the 3 places a medieval blacksmith would get their metal from.
Medieval blacksmiths obtained their metal from 3 locations during the middle ages. First, medieval blacksmiths would buy the metal ingots directly from smelting towns with mines across central Europe. Second, medieval blacksmiths would trade amongst themselves or buy from traveling merchants. Third, most larger clients would bring their own metal to the blacksmith.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 places that medieval blacksmiths would get their metal.
Medieval Blacksmiths Would Buy Their Iron From Smelting Towns Across Europe
One of the primary places where medieval blacksmiths would buy their metal from was towns across central Europe.
These towns were called mining towns and the entire population specialized in mining metal ore from primitive caves or mines. Most of these mines were left over from the Roman Empire who carved them out over several decades.
Each one of these mining towns typically had a smelter that smelted the metal ore that came from the mine. These ingots would be bought by some of the larger medieval blacksmiths around Europe.
The largest medieval mining towns existed in Germany during the height of the middle ages. Historians have reports of blacksmiths requesting metal ingots from certain towns who were known for their metal quality.
Most blacksmiths were poor and only serviced an individual town or village. It was rare for a blacksmith to have enough money to specialize and request specific metal shipments but on occasion it did happen towards the end of the medieval age.
As such one of the primary ways that medieval blacksmiths obtained their metal was by ordering it from mining towns across Europe. These towns would send the metal ingots to the blacksmith who would then use them to forge items for themselves or for others.
Medieval Blacksmiths Would Trade Among Themselves Or From Traveling Merchants
Another way in which medieval blacksmiths get their metal was to trade it either between themselves or through traveling merchants.
This option was typically reserved to medieval blacksmiths living in and around the major towns of medieval Europe. These towns were called Market towns because they would establish a central market square where each merchant could sell their goods.
Outside of the market towns of Europe most blacksmiths were too poor or lacked access to metal shipments. In these small villages the primary method of earning a living was in the agricultural sector.
However, for the large market towns an entire trade skill sector would begin to evolve. Merchants, large scale blacksmiths, clergy, and artists would come out of the larger market towns.
It was in these market towns that certain medieval blacksmiths would start to develop a reputation for their craft. Historians have run into medieval accounts of legendary blacksmiths who were known to make the metal goods.
As such one of the primary ways medieval blacksmiths obtained their metal was by either trading with other blacksmiths or buying it from merchants while living in market towns.
Most Larger Clients Would Bring Their Own Metal To Medieval Blacksmiths
One of the primary ways medieval blacksmiths obtained their metal was by having the client bring it themselves or pay to have it bought.
The medieval blacksmith was known for his craft. A good blacksmith would be requested to create a special suit of armor for kings or lords of the region. However, in order to do this they would need to acquire the best metal possible.
For large and powerful clients a blacksmith would either have them bring their own metal or have them pay to have the metal bought. Most medieval blacksmiths did not buy the metal with their own funds but rather had clients bring their own metal to be forged.
Medieval blacksmiths would have their clients provide their own metal because it removed liability in the purity of the ore. Further, it also simplified a lot of the forging process as the smith would only have to focus upon the creation of the metal piece.
For large scale orders such as from the Royal palace the blacksmith might get an advance of cash so that he could go buy the necessary metal ore from the market. These types of orders typically came from either the King or marshal of the realm who was preparing for a campaign or special occasion.
As such one of the main ways a medieval blacksmith would get their metal would be from their clients themselves.
There you have it; an entire article on the 3 places medieval blacksmiths obtained their metal from.
Medieval blacksmiths remains a fascinating topic. While every village across Europe would have their own medieval town blacksmith we know very little about the profession as a whole. Graduate students looking for a great study subject will find several potential research topics in medieval blacksmiths.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around.
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