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A medieval merchant could be defined as anybody who sold goods.  Merchants tended to be more wealthy and important than other guilds, although it wasn’t that uncommon for a merchant to be poor and another craftsmen to be wealthy.  In the earlier medieval ages, craftsmen and merchants were quite similar, for many guilds not only made their products, but sold them as well.  During the later medieval ages, the two jobs became more distinguished, and the line that divided them became thicker.  When a town and its prosperity grew, the merchants of that town would become more and more important, and it was extremely common for the head of the merchant guild to be head of the town, and the town government to be the members of the merchant guild. 

In the picture above and left, merchants are in dispute over the price of some wine crates.  In the picture to the right, the merchants are organizing trade and industry in their town.  They typically set up courts of justice, built streets and walls,  and occasionally were the caretakers and people in charge of that certain town’s finances.  In short, the merchants were extremely important in maintaining the economy of the town they worked in.

Comments are requested, and quite welcome: Allyson Terry's email or Kacey Marton's email

  Page last updated: 04/11/2003 03:42