Excitement and trepidation: Looking Ahead

Looking at the Big List and trying to map out how and when I will discuss each of the trades. Obviously, there will be overlaps and repetition, and it only makes sense to reduces that as much as possible in order not to bore myself or you, my readers.

One of the things I am thinking about doing is taking a more holistic approach by tracking back from the marketplace to the people creating the goods. I can do this by creating “cells” that consist of overlapping trades/goods so that I can discuss and investigate how certain trades that were reliant on one another. On the whole, I think it would be more interesting to discuss the curriers (who turned skins into leather) in the context of those who would use their leathers to make goods (shoemakers, for instance) and then sell them (the leathersellers).

One of the aspects of this project that has been a stumbling block for me has been how to explore the service trades. It’s easy to discuss the dyers and the fishmongers, but how do you explore the plumbers and inholders? By starting with the marketplace and working backwards, it would be easier to put these tradesmen in context with their time and their fellow tradesmen. The innholder could be a jumping off point for exploring brewing, for instance.

There’s also the matter of the cottage trades that had not acquired guild status such as the knitters. If I start with those who use the goods (knitters) I could include them in the wider discussion of the liveried trades (the woolmen).

Also, there are parts of this project I am most looking forward to spending time with are the brewers, cooks, and bakers. All things that tweak my interests. The trick then, will be not to give short shrift to the trades that I am not looking forward to or that I find personally boring so that I can spend more time at the hearth.

That will be a very real temptation and could really be a yearlong project all its own without needing to stretch overmuch.  I think cooking and baking are themes we will return to repeatedly throughout the project.

All very much reminding me that this is a work in progress, even as January draws closer.

– Scott

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