Medieval Markets

Medieval Markets

As most people lived in the country, grew their own food, and made their own clothes, they needed places close enough to herd the animals and carry their wares to the market and then return home in the same day. Cross roads and river bridges were popular locations, especially if a church was nearby. Crafts people found it advantageous to build their workshops close to the market places. This helped villages and towns to form and grow.

Sunday grew to be a popular day for the markets. Folk could attend church and then visit the market to sell (or trade) and socialize. Markets were not only run by local people but also by churches, monasteries, noble lords, barons, and in some countries by the rulers. Sometimes shelters were built with crosses (“market crosses”) on them for market traders. Those unable to afford a stall sold their items from baskets, or spread cloths on the ground to display their wares.

As Markets grew bigger, they attracted people from greater distances. Some people became peddlars, constantly travelling from one market to the next. Eventually they were joined by minstrels, performing animals, and other entertainers. Horses and carts became a regular sight.

In well-organised markets men were paid to check on weights, measurements, and scales, to catch those trying to cheat the customers, and to check the quality of goods. There were special market courts where dishonest traders were tried. Some of the punishments for the guilty were a day in the stocks or pillory, being pelted by passers by with rotten fruit and vegetables. A butcher or a fish monger caught and convicted for cheating customers might be pulled through the market on a sledge with a piece of stinking fish or meat around his or her neck

Established by Royal Charter in 1241