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The First Craftsmen

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Scene from 1568 Enlarge

Workshop
(1568, Public domain)

The First Craftsmen

During the Middle Ages, craftsmen included almost all professions not connected with agriculture (weaver, baker, shoemaker, saddler, etc.). Under the feudal system, craftsmen were often serfs who attempted to free themselves or obtain recognition thanks to the work of their hands.

Soon, craftsmen acquire a certain status, defending their monopoly and declaring themselves to be professionals. A hierarchy and teaching system were developed. Masters revealed the rudiments of a profession to pupils subjected to their authority and only receiving a token salary.

Hired at a very young age, sometimes even before adolescence, the apprentice had to become acquainted with the requirements of the trade by following to the letter traditional methods and techniques. The duration of training was then variable, but could last as long as ten years.

At a certain time, in order to eliminate any competition, the apprenticeship of a profession was compulsory to be considered a craftsman. Gradually, mass production techniques appeared, with great prejudice to craftsmen who lost their monopoly.

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