Reply To: Inventory of Andrea di Clemente 1461

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Hans Hellinger

Yes agreed, the question is how representative is he vis-a-vis the middle? And how much property did a middling artisan or bottom tier ‘full citizen’ have in various regions. Certainly day laborers are indeed poorer than artisans.

Normally at least for Central or Southern Europe the term is usually craft rather than trade. German ‘handwerker’ Italian ‘artigiano’, Czech ‘řemeslník’, Polish ‘rzemieślnik’, Swedish ‘hantverkare’, etc.

I know that in some towns, artisans of specific crafts were well enough off that they were expected to provide not only weapons and armor, but also horse(s) for the militia. For example in Wismar in 1483 the butchers made up the bulk of the cavalry in their militia. I also know that wealthier craft artisans often owned more than one house or building. Some of them were involved in business complexes and / or were at the top of networks of subcontractors, whereas others (often but not always younger) were effectively the employees of these types.

Town laws in different towns encouraged such specific types of stratification.

One historian noted that the second lowest tier of residents of Frankfurt in 1380, consisting of 40% of the population (this list included citizens, partial citizens, and also non citizens or ‘denizens’ like servants and semi-skilled laborers) owned property between 12 and 20 florins. Below that was a tier of poorer servants and day laborers (20% of the population) who had less than 12 florins.

12 -20 florins is not a lot but it’s hardly trivial – I think it’s much more money than you would find in the hands of most of the people in say 17th Century London or Paris.