you mean
there were other occupations
in medieval history

SHOCK.  This is not the demographic landscape that fantasy/historical fiction has led us to envision!  Next you'll be saying that the blacksmiths weren't always enormous + burly / young, dark, + handsome, & the innkeepers weren't always fat + jovial.  YOU MIGHT EVEN TELL ME THAT PEOPLE ATE SOMETHING BESIDES STEW.

here lies the smoking wreckage of a bizarre utopia, composed of convenient smithies with equally convenient bed + breakfasts where you can engage in a nightly brawl with local drunkards, free of consequence

It doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that any society is composed of a rich tapestry of occupations, all engaging in a push + pull economy, supplying other occupations, vying with other occupations, building up + tearing down.  Someone has to make something, & if you can make it, you can sell it. 

there are too many occupations to enumerate, so i'm going to list 7 of my favourites to get you thinking. 

POST  ||  Guess what!  Letters aren't just conveniently dropped off when it suits your story.  Societies quickly set up regular means of delivering mail, because mail means communication, & communication is essential to economies.  Your characters are likely to send, receive, or be met by the post on the road (mAKE WAY for prince aLI).

INKMAKER  ||    Like beer, manufacturing ink can be a household chore; but if you are particularly apt, & have access to the ingredients necessary, there is always a market for durable ink.   Characters may make + sell, or just have occasion to purchase, ink from a local supplier.  & who knows what might happen in the meantime *plotplot*.

UNGUENTARY / APOTHECARY  ||  WHAT A TERRIBLE WORD & yet so very important for a society because thanks adam + eve we're all subject to aches, pains, sickness, + death (unguentaries may also provide embalming fluids + sweet ointments??).  I can see endless occasions for the use of apothicks et al in novels. XD

FUELLER  ||  People always need a means of baking their meals / warming their homes, but they very likely have busy jobs that prevent them from getting the fuel themselves sO let's have a monthly subscription of ye olde dry tinderwood to be delivered promptlie upon the first of evrie month, by John Woodstock, whose business such is to gather + sell fuel.  BOOM.  Problem solved.

SOAPMAKER  ||   Everything gets dirty, & an effective soap requires a carefully balanced chemistry.  If you can create a good soap that gets the job done, & sell it to your neighbours, I think this is what folks call a "side hustle." 

CHANDLER  ||  Not to be crowded out by the butchers + bakers of the town, the manufacturing of light is a seriously important job, with numerous vocations tied up in it (you have to get the wax/oil from somewhere, your wicks from someone, or make them yourself with outsourced products, etc.).  So long as the sun keeps going down, people will need artificial light.

HAENYEO  ||  I added this one because

a:: i think the ocean is hella terrifying
b:: it's chockablock with food, fuel, + other useful commodities
c:: these women are incredibly strong

Diving has been a lucrative trade in sea-based cultures all over the world; haenyeo, the women-divers of Jeju (Korea), is only one example.  I'd love to work this trade into Ethandune somehow, but yeah nothing's coming to me yet.  XD

These are my 7 various occupations that are important to a society + are NOT blacksmiths or innkeepers.  
Go forth + be not cliche!

have some vocations that are your favourites? please share!
xoxo. jenny

7 ripostes:

  1. Waaaahhh, literally the only occupations I have in my book are
    a. blacksmith
    b. innkeeper
    c. scholar at a university
    d. shepherd

    I guess the scholar isn't too bad. Is he? I don't read enough fantasy to know if that's cliche or not. Oh well, I like him :)

  2. I must confess I had not thought of most of these and I didn't even know haenyeo existed. Very cool.

  3. Laura Elizabeth - Q U I C K. It's not too late! (True story, back in the day when I was trying fruitlessly to salvage my original Adamantine, I inserted an inn scene complete with pointless brawl, so I'm just as guilty, wotwot. XD )

    Caroline - I don't think about things, thoughts just come to me. XD I was watching clips on Youtube by Great Big Story, and they featured haenyeo, so that's how I discovered them.

  4. Soapmaker: yes but it might be a bit of a luxury item to buy, given that everyone with access to night water (sorry, most genteel way I could put it), ash and animal fat can make soap. How can three such messy things make something that cleans. Tis a miracle.

    Also, how about Weavers, Shipwrights, Lawyers, Cordwainers (shoe makers) and Cobblers (shoe repairers), Carpenters, Millers, Merchants, Tanners, Lorimers, Saddlers, and my favourite of all, Sweetmeat Makers (more sugared plums and rosepetals please!)

  5. Great list! You've also got your street sweepers, lamp lighters, and the person whose job it was to go around making sure that the people who hired them got up on time. Cabbies, laundresses, and the street hawkers who would buy things like wood or fish or matches from another source and resell them.

  6. P.S. Haenyeo!!! Yes!!! So fascinating!

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