To a Barber, 1248
Apprenticeship was the recognized way of entering a craft and was a method of
ensuring proper training. It likewise prevented overcrowding of the trade. The average
contract stated the term of years, salary, and promises of faithful work. An
apprenticeship of two years' duration was uncommonly short, the usual period being four or
April the thirteenth, in the year of the Lord 1248.
I, William, barber of Sestri, in good faith and without equivocation, place my self in
your service and engage myself to work for you, Armand the barber, making my home with
you, for learning the art or craft of barbering for a period of two years, at the salary
or wage of forty solidi in the mixed money now current in Marseilles, promising to be
faithful to you in all things, not to rob you, or take anything away from you, and not to
leave you for a greater or less wage for any reason whatsoever, and to give you in good
faith whatever money I am able to take, to tell you the truth, and to bear faith to you in
all that I do.
I also promise to reimburse you for all expenses you incur on my behalf; and I promise
to do all these things by agreement, and under pledge of one hundred solidi in royal
crowns, the pledge being forfeited when the agreement is broken. For greater security I
swear upon the Holy Gospels, touching them with my hand. And I pledge all my goods, etc.,
and renounce the benefit of all laws, etc.
And, I, the said Armand, admit all the foregoing, and promise by this agreement to give
to you, the said William, forty solidi every year as your wage, and to provide for you, in
sickness or in health, food and clothing for two complete years. Pledging all my goods,
etc., renouncing the benefit of all laws, etc.
From: L. Blancard, ed, Documents Inédits sur le Commerce de Marseille au Moyen Age,
(Marseilles: Barlatier-Feissat, Pere et Fils, 1884), Vol. II, p. 60, reprinted in Roy C.
Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee:
The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 249.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998