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This kind of scenario has been wracking around in my head for a bit. I would like to imagine a medieval archer could make money from his skill but I'm debating how lucrative it'd be.
My question is how could a medieval archer make money from a non-soldier job?
Offhand, hunting comes to mind. How lucrative that might be I don't know.
Hunting did come to mind, maybe we consider the kind of game he's hunting and what he could sell and who he's selling to.
Meat and hide/pelt obviously to people selling it, could maybe sell organs to alchemists, what about the bones?
In terms of historical realism, very few people made a living by earning a salary in medieval Europe. For one thing, currency wasn't in common use, and where it was used, you had to belong to a guild, who set the prices. I don't believe there were archers guilds, so this looks impossible. Its far more likely that he would find a patron, and hunt for them in exchange for provisions. A monastery or a lord would work.
Probably a stupid question, but what sorts of provisions would this archer receive?
If memory serves, soldiers on campaign earned a salary and archers were actually decently paid. In the book, The Road To Crecy: The English Invasion of France 1346 (a book about the English campaign leading up to the Battle of Crecy), it states that the English foot archers on that campaign were paid 3 pence per day whilst mounted archers were paid 6 pence per day.
In contrast, spearmen on foot were paid 2 pence per day whilst mounted men-at-arms were paid about 1-2 shillings (12-24 pence) per day. Meanwhile, artisans (e.g. harness makers, tailors, bladesmiths, etc) would typically earn upwards of 4 pence per day while in the King's service.
This is based on a video by Matt Easton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUsYzRWcVv8
This is just to highlight the relative value placed on archery as a skill in the 14th century.
In terms of a non-soldiering job for an archer, it depends on where you expect the income to come from and why they would need an archer in the first place. For the most part, I doubt anyone would be able to find stable employment exclusively as an archer though the skill could be wrapped up along with other related skills. For instance, as a gamekeeper, etc. Alternatively, they could be a hunter and sell what they catch at the market (bearing in mind there are lots of restrictions in terms of who can hunt what and where, with most large game only legally hunted by the nobility).
Hope that helps.
Edited by peasant on Aug 13th 2019 at 12:39:17 PM
Sorry, I meant room and board. The chief huntsman of a lord could expect to live pretty well—his own cottage, so many pounds of food per week, new clothes every so often, that sort of thing. A free hunter would pay a fee or a portion of his kill to whomever owns the land he hunts on—again a lord, or perhaps a monastery.
One other thing he could do is teach archery, or rather train someone' archers. That takes you back into martial skills, however.
Well I said non-soldier jobs, meaning him being the soldier in question. Being an archery teacher fits that description pretty well.
Well, if he trains in peacetime, he'll be expected to fight in war. Then again, so will everyone else. Very few men of fighting age get exceptions if they're needed.
Edited by DeMarquis on Aug 13th 2019 at 6:55:45 AM
Of course, I only ever really asked what money he could make doing non-soldier jobs. I never once said he would never be one.
Archery and crossbow guilds actually did exist in medieval Europe. They functioned differently from your average trade guild, though - their primary purpose was to train skilled archers rather than doing business, so for most parts they got their funding from the local aristocracy, who would muster them as soldiers in wartime. They also organised social events like hunts and shooting competitions, which sometimes brought in some profit (including surplus wine and other fancy prizes from their noble sponsors). For most parts, though, the members would've relied on their own day jobs for their income.
A couple other things to consider:
- At least in England and Wales, people were expected to regularly train in archery on holy days.
- Also, there is a considerable difference between a hunting bow and a war bow in terms of draw weight and how to use them.
Edited by peasant on Aug 15th 2019 at 12:13:29 PM
Time to necro the thread a little. If you don't mind me asking since I'm a bit daft at points, what kinds of things would an accomplished archer need to make his arrows and where could he get them?
It would depend on the purpose - specifically with respect to the arrowheads. Ultimately, they would need the services of a fletcher (a person who applies the feathers to the arrow shaft) and an arrowsmith (a blacksmith who makes arrowheads); with more specialist smiths to make things like bodkins and plate-cutters.
Presumably, such tradesmen would already be working together in larger towns and cities; though it would be plausible that the arrowheads are made by the arrowsmith elsewhere before being assembled locally by the fletcher using local materials for the remaining parts of the arrow, especially in smaller settlements.
Edited by peasant on Aug 17th 2019 at 10:02:03 AM
Arrowheads were also used as currencies in some Native American and Eurasian steppe cultures.
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How well does it match the trope?