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Worst Jobs of the Medieval Times

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1 Worst Jobs of the Medieval Times

2 Churl/Peasant

3 Most peasants had a few meager possessions like tools, pots and wooden bowls, cups and spoons. Most slept on a sort of straw mattress on the floor. They slept in their work clothes, covered by an animal skin.

4 In Anglo-Saxon times the churl, came lowest down the pecking order.
His job was farming a small piece of land keeping his family alive on the food he produced. Ploughing the land with oxen and a wooden plough was essential but difficult and back breaking work. On top of farming the churl had to put a roof over his head which meant building a hut made of wattle and daub. Wattle was made of long, slender hazel branches which were painstakingly woven together to make walls and once these were in place the daub was slapped on to stop the wind howling through. This was a messy, smelly job because daub is made from water, mud, straw and dung!

5 Fuller

6 The job of a fuller was to make the wool cloth nice and soft and pliable—easy to work with and smooth against the skin. Well break out the nose-pins, gas masks and vomit buckets, because today your work begins! A fuller’s job was to walk up and down huge vats of nasty stale urine in which the wool sat. And they had to do it ALL DAY! Yuck!

7 Arming Squire

8 You’re mission, should you choose to accept it is to run out into battle--unarmed, mind you—to arm your master when his current coverings become damaged or displaced. When he's done fighting, and you’re still alive, you get to clean the blood, sweat, mud and gross stuff—from his armor. Sounds like a fun job doesn’t it?

9 Leech Collector

10 Feel like bleeding to death. Or is it blood letting to death
Feel like bleeding to death? Or is it blood letting to death? Or blood sucked to death? Not sure what you want to call it, but if you’re the leech-collector, you’ll be tramping around in the marshes and reed beds, and let those little worm-like creatures attach to your calves and other body parts. But you better rip them off quickly before they suck the life from you! Stick them in a jar, then when you get home—if you make it--ship them off to the nearest “barber”.


12 Looking for a job that doesn’t require much skill other than carrying water and heating it up for noblemen and women? I’ve got the perfect position for you! Today you’ll be an ewerer. Don’t burn yourself! Those castles are big!!!


14 Being a cottar must have been very confusing
Being a cottar must have been very confusing. From day to day, week to week, you weren’t sure what you’d be doing. And as a lowly peasant, it wasn’t like you had money to live off of if the lord decided he didn’t need you to work that day. But what would he have your doing? You may be a swine-herder today and a prison guard tomorrow. Or maybe you’d be helping fix the roof, or dig a moat. You just never know. A cottar was like a temp worker. Whatever need was needed, that’s where you went.

15 Lime Burner

16 Lime was used for making building mortar, which was in demand for the cathedrals springing up all over the country. The Lime Burner had a thankless if important task, heating chalk in a kiln at 1,100C. The dust it produced could cause blindness and spontaneously combust and burn. If that wasn't enough, the carbon monoxide could make the worker dizzy and he could fall into the kiln with ease. Health and safety was obviously not a high priority in the Middle Ages!

17 Treadmill Operator

18 This was definitely not a job for vertigo sufferers and was often done by the blind.
Imagine a giant mouse wheel, balanced at the highest point (up to 50m) of an almost built cathedral and you've got an idea of what a treadmill looked like. The operator would trudge for hours, turning the treadmill which moved the winch on a crane. It was monotonous and dangerous because if the treadmill was damaged by the weather, or badly constructed it could come crashing down.

19 Barber/Surgeon

20 Medieval barbers did a lot more than just cut hair, in Europe they were doctors, dentists, and general cure-alls, despite having a worse grasp of medical theory than most modern five year olds. Called the barber-surgeon, they would pull rotten teeth, let blood, use leeches, lance boils, all that stuff. All around, very useful people — except there was no anesthetics, no sterile instruments, they probably didn’t even wash the instruments between patients. Can’t you imagine the screaming agony of literally pulling teeth with pliers? It turns out priests used to do most of the medical healing stuff, but a papal decree said they weren’t allowed to shed blood, so surgery passed on to another, even less trained field.

21 Lance Maker

22 Weapons for fighting were required to be beautiful and well crafted
Weapons for fighting were required to be beautiful and well crafted. You can imagine how long this would take! It must have met up to standards, first. If it’s owner was injured or killed in battle and anything could be blamed on “faulty craftsmanship”…..well, you were a goner.

23 Guillemot Egg Collector

24 Guillemot eggs were an important source of protein in the Saxon peasant's diet.
The only trouble being guillemots nest on ledges, precariously balanced on cliff sides so collecting them meant risking life and limb hundreds of feet above jagged rocks and raging seas. And if this wasn't dangerous enough, angry birds were likely to attack anyone trying to steal their precious eggs.

25 Bog Iron Hunter

26 The Saxons needed vast quantities of iron for tools and weapons
The Saxons needed vast quantities of iron for tools and weapons. The Bog Iron Hunter did exactly what his title says; he hunted for iron ore in bogs. In all weather, he poked around in soggy bogs trying to find up to 40kgs of ore a day for the smelters

27 Coin Stamper

28 There was no pay involved, just bed and board.
There was a particularly nasty punishment if he was tempted to steal the silver he was making into coins. If a whole coin went missing? Your hand was cut off and nailed to the workshop door!

29 Rat Catcher

30 Got a special talent for catching those nasty little vermin called rats? Hear the call from the castle? “The castle is filled with rats! Help us!” Time to get to work—and you’ve surely got your work cut out for you, today you’re a rat catcher.

31 Sin Eater

32 Europe, a sin-eater was an outcast, poor and shunned by everyone for their profession, who was only sought out once a person had died. It was the sin-eater’s job to absorb all the sins of a dead person in order to let them into heaven, exchanging their own eternal torment for a ludicrously small sum of money. When they were hired, a piece of food and bowl of drink were passed over the dead, absorbing their sins, which the sin-eater then devoured. The logic that the sin would pass on to the social outcast, and the dead could ascend freely. Wow, hated and outcast for your entire life, starving and poor, and now sent to hell for the sins of dozens of people?

33 Gravedigger

34 The job of a gravedigger may not have been pleasant but it sure was profitable. Why? Because everyone was dying of disease and plagues. You didn’t live too long back then. The only set back to being a gravedigger was, you might catch a disease from the dead—no matter how much money you make, I’d rather not handle diseased carcasses all day. But if that’s your cup o’ tea, grab a shovel!

35 Spit Boy

36 In medieval and early modern kitchens, the spit was the preferred way of cooking hogs and lambs in a large household. A servant, preferably a boy, sat near the hog roast turning the metal spit slowly and cooking the roast hog or lamb; he was known as the "spit boy" or "spit jack”

37 Gong Farmer

38 Hello, Mr. Gong-Farmer. You may be called a farmer, but what your farming is nothing but a bunch of bodily waste...Eww! So gong must be…yeah, yuck. Have you ever been to a castle or read about how the nobles went potty? Well high up on the 2nd and 3rd floors were little rooms called garderobes. Does not sound so bad. They were just rock slabs with holes in them that you sat on and did your business. That hole led down to a gong pit, and you got it, the gong farmer’s job was to clean that out…

39 Gladiator

40 . You might die today, you might not, depends on how well you fight and entertain the people. Yup, you’re the new gladiator. Fight the lions, fight other gladiators, fight seasoned warriors. But whatever you do, fight hard, because today might be your last. And its all for the sake of entertaining the fans in the stands.

41 Soap maker

42 Soap’s clean, right? Surely making it should be a rather pleasant and nice-smelling endeavor, right? Well, now, sure, but in medieval and ancient times, being a soap maker was like being an industrial chemist, but without any sort of protection. There were no fume-hoods in ancient Britain. The early recipes for soap contained ingredients like lye, ash and rendered animal fats. At its simplest form, it’s just waste ash and leftover animal fat boiled together until it solidifies. I’m betting if you make that it won’t smell like daffodils or whatever your newest stuff from Bath and Body Works smells like.

43 Groom of the Stool

44 And the winner is….. The Groom of the Stool was a male servant in the household of an English monarch who, among other duties, “preside[d] over the office of royal excretion,” that is, he had the task of cleaning the monarch’s rear end after a bathroom trip. In the early years of Henry VIII’s reign, the title was awarded to minions of the King, court companions who spent time with him in the Privy chamber. These were the sons of noblemen or important members of the gentry. The position was an especially prized one, as it allowed one unobstructed access to the King’s attention. Despite being the official bum-wiper of the king, the Groom of the Stool had a very high social standing.

45 Help Wanted Ad Now that you know about all types of Medieval Jobs, it is time for you to create a help wanted ad for one of these jobs. Other jobs that are not so “interesting” may be used as well. They are listed on the nest slide. Be cautious describing some of the jobs that are rather “sensitive”. You must be really creative in your language in the description. One, not to offend, and two, to attract one to apply for the job!!!

46 Blacksmith ArmorerBlackSmith Armorer Falconer-trainer of falcons/birds of prey Tailor Carpenter Plowman Butcher Goldsmith Metal Smith Groom Squire-second step to knighthood Page-step to Knighthood Silversmith Grocer Draper sold cloth Furrier Fishmonger Baker Weaver

47 Some things to put on your ad
Catchy Heading or Phrase on Top Job Description Job Requirements (leech collector- “must have nice legs” Pictures Who to contact Where to send in your application Payment/Salary

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