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Let's say I have a small village with 100 people of which everyone is able to work, what kind of professions do these people need?

Background to the society: they are as smart as medieval people, with an almighty god ruling them through a strict religious code.

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    $\begingroup$ Why does it matter that they have an almighty god and a strict religious code? $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 19 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ Do they have access to trade or are they completely isolated? $\endgroup$ – James Aug 19 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ What tech level, modern humans and early hunter gatherers are "as smart as medieval people", what level of technology do they have. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 19 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ So it's a village with about 200 people? Because about half of a Medieval village will be children (many of whom can be useful but they won't have professions) or people unable to work because they're heavily pregnant/nursing, very elderly, injured, disabled, or ill. If all 100 can work at a profession then it's not a village, it's a work camp. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Aug 20 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ You might try asking on our History site about what roles there actually were in a real Medieval village. $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth Aug 20 at 14:00

16 Answers 16

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Farmer, farmer, and farmer

Assuming it is independent and not a satellite settlement (a satellite community is far far more likely) there is only one job, farmer. there is not enough people to support specialized labor. (note farmer might be replaced with fisher in a coastal settlement) Maybe, maybe they have a blacksmith, although a hundred is is a pretty small number to support a full time blacksmith so more than likely they are part time, the rest of their time will be spent either farming or herding (and farming to feed them).

100 people is not a village, it's not a town, it only qualifies as a hamlet because there is no word for something smaller. because there is so few people there is no need for social infrastructure. It is basically band living, everyone knows everyone else intimately, moral control is communal because everyone knows everyone else and can shun an offender. You are looking at less than 20 homes in the entire settlement, probably less.

With very small communities there just is not enough surplus food production to support specialized labor. different people will have different talents (Bob is a better tanner and John is a better potter) but everyone does every job but their first job is still to feed themselves. The closest thing to specialization you will have is side projects, Dave may keep bees while Harry has a pole lathe for making bowls, but in both cases these are small side projects, the majority of their time is spent farming. Everyone farms, everyone hunts or fishes, everyone makes pottery, everyone is a carpenter, everyone is a brewer, everyone makes candles and clothing. Some jobs will be collective, several guys may get together to make a kiln or raise a barn but it is a community project.

If they are a satellite community their job is to harvest whatever resource the satellite community is built around, mining, lumberjacking, building a castle, ect. food is likely imported at some lords expense. Then you will have service jobs and administrator, a whorehouse, a brewer, and a church. Their will not be as many families in such a community and more single men.

My rough calculations.

the settlement mentioned has at most 20 farms likely less. I have seen estimates of around 10-15% surplus (literally a tithe) with an 8 oxen wheeled plow, the best system available. Assuming a farm feeds a family, that means 20 farms with an advanced plow can manage to support 1-2 other families. One of those will be your blacksmiths family. Then you need to feed the oxen which is more than a single farm can manage, so you lose a decent chunk of the remainder feeding the oxen. so I am estimating 1 specialist family per 20 farms. However yields were unstable so that is probably generous, if you have a bad year and too many specialists they might starve, so having the blacksmith also bring in food by other means is more stable, especially if 20 farms is an overestimate.

Source 1

Source 2

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – James Aug 20 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Can you add a few numbers and references to this? E.g. how much food a person can produce, how much food one person needs, and how much surplus that would be? it would strengthen your points extremely. I find it hard to believe a 100 people could not feed 10 that have specialized jobs. You need tools, you need clothes, you need to build new houses or to be able to maintain the existing ones. One would expect at least a few people to work in the woodworking/metalworking/clothing branch, or at least for seasonal variation, with farmers taking on such jobs outside harvest season. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Aug 20 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ In the UK the distinction between a hamlet and village is down to the size (hamlet is smaller) and the presence of a church (required for a village). 20 homes would be a small village, but without a church it's be a large hamlet. $\endgroup$ – Pod Aug 20 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of the answers mention how someone might be a blacksmith, but in a settlement this sort of size it would be more likely they relied on itinerant workers; blacksmiths, farriers, tinkers; and seasonal workers like labourers, for instance. In the case of smiths and farriers, there might be a forge and an anvil at the settlement, and the worker brings his own tools (see the Mastermyr chest for a fine example), fuel, and metal, and would charge the villagers (hamleteers? :) ) for materials + labour. Farriers might even have their own anvil, being much more specialised. $\endgroup$ – MerseyViking Aug 21 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ 20 homes is pushing it really badly, remember in those times people had more children and the old would be part of the home. So a more reasonable average home would be likely 2 parents + 1 grandparent, +3 children, and 2 helpers (forming own homes but production is from one home)... So more like max 12 homes. If one of the household is a full time blacksmith then you have a 1-11 factor. Its possible to support that if the village has a lot of land, but unnaturally low numer of inhabitants. Remember productivity in these times is less than 1/10th of today. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Aug 22 at 6:14
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Unlike the main answers, we actually do see a few specialized professions even in small villages. This is true both for the middle ages and for contemporary indigenous people.

Most importantly, there would be a priest. Even small villages have a shaman, witch doctor, priest or other religious figurehead.

According to some historical research, productivity in agriculture being low in the middle ages, about 70% of the people needed to work in food production. That gives your 100 people village about 30 people who do not have to be full-time farmers. Most of those people will be small children, but I would estimate that your village can afford a dozen or so people who have food production as a hobby at most (say, the priest also has bees).

The other thing we know from historical research is that peasants in the middle ages were highly self-sufficient. They knew how to make their own clothes, how to deliver babies, apply whatever counted as medicine and how to build a shack. They would slaughter animals by themselves and barter with their neighbours instead of looking for a supermarket.

You would look to the professions that are highly specialized and can't be done "as an aside".

Making shoes is one such thing. They are very useful to have and good shoes are much more difficult to make than clothes or rope or pottery.

Furniture is another thing. Basic carpentry will be something most people can do, but making a proper table and benches or chairs, as well as specialized items that require proper craftsmanship, such as parts of a mill, would require a proper carpenter.

Your village might be too small for its own blacksmith, but this would be another profession you could find, because of the investment in tools, furnace, etc. that is needed, it is unlikely that everyone does a bit of smithing.

There might be a village sherrif or major or both combined - someone to enforce rules, but you're on the edge there. The community probably functions well without and doesn't need one, but it isn't too far from a size where such a position would appear.

Then there are specialists like a herbalist/apothecary or a teacher that at this size may or may not exist and may or may not be a part-time position of someone who also has a (smaller) farm.

Finally, there are a few farming-related professions that your village might have, such as a miller. Again, like the blacksmith the reason for this isn't that the job is so special, but that one mill or smithy shared by the village is better than everyone having their own.


If it is variety you are after, don't forget that "food production" is an entire field by itself. Some people grow crops, some have a vegetable garden, some have an orchard of fruit trees. There is also hunting, trapping and fishing. There are different kinds of animals to keep, shear, slaughter and make into meat and leather. Even the 70+ people in your village who are food producers are unlikely to all be doing the exact same things.

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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that about 20% of the production would go to taxes (some 10% to the local lord, another 10% or so to the church). So that only leaves ten out of a hundred people who can do stuff other than procure food. But then you account for children (who eat less, but are also less productive), the sick and the elderly... It's not accidental that starvation wasn't exactly unheard of back in the day. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Aug 20 at 10:37
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    $\begingroup$ Re carpentry, something which still exists in some small rural communities in the UK is a local undertaker/funeral director, making their own wooden coffins, and also doing general carpentry and joinery - and sometimes other minor building repairs, house painting, and interior decorating as well. If your village has a "strict religious code" it needs all the practical skills necessary to perform the religious rites, not just a priest/shaman. $\endgroup$ – alephzero Aug 20 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ a Priest (who will likely also have some sheep/livestock), a <insert doctor-like term> (who will also do agriculture), a Blacksmith (on Tues- and Wednesdays, but mostly a farmer) $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Aug 20 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ Shoemaking wouldn't be a trade here. Most of the time, people would go barefoot--even when working with dangerous tools, like an adze. Other people would just sew a leather moccasin. A shoemaker might come through the village and live with people and make them shoes periodically--maybe a journeyman from another town doing his period of traveling/knowledge sharing before setting up as a master craftsman. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Aug 20 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @alephzero Coffins were by no means the norm for peasants. If you have to go to the effort of cutting down a tree and turning it into decent planks yourself, you are rather unlikely to simply dump it in the ground. The ability to afford a coffin (or if you were really rich, a stone sarcophagus) was very much an expression of how rich you were. For peasants, sackcloth around the body was perfectly adequate. $\endgroup$ – Graham Aug 21 at 16:28
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I agree with John that such a small village would probably consist of farmers, farmers, and farmers.

Except if the people are Humans or similar they were have two genders with somewhat different roles and a ranges of ages.

So probably the jobs would be farm husband, farm wife, farm hand, farm wife's assistant, farmer's little boy, farmer's little girl, old farm woman, and old farm man, which makes eight jobs in all.

Most of the farm hands and farm wife's assistants would be working for their parents, but some might be working for other families, presumably for room and board.

Presumably the farm husbands, farm wives, farm hands, & farm wives' assistants, would be numerous enough to do almost all of the work, with some assistance, "assistance", meddling, and advice from the other groups.

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    $\begingroup$ Most of the farm hands and farm wife's assistants would be working for their parents => not necessarily. In French the word "Journalier" was applied to someone who hired himself for the day on farms, and there were more journaliers than farm owners. Most houses would still have a garden, maybe a couple chickens/rabbits and a pig, but not all would have actual farm hands. $\endgroup$ – Matthieu M. Aug 20 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ Children, even really small children, did a ton of work--planting seeds, weeding/hoeing, picking vegetables, tending animals, plus fetch-and-carry tasks. Anything that didn't need an adult (adult would do heavy or more dangerous work, like plowing, wood chopping, cooking). Older folks (by the standards of the day) did anything that didn't require too much movement--shelling peas, knitting, etc.These aren't makework tasks, things like shelling peas or weeding the vegetables have to be done by someone and they take a lot of time. $\endgroup$ – user3067860 Aug 20 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ The traditional family farm relies on child labour in order to function; without that source of labour, traditional (pre-industrial) farming, where slavery isn't involved, suffers significantly. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Aug 20 at 21:43
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Need? At a minimum, and assuming this is not a village featured in the medieval version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, this small population village needs farms raising a suitably broad range of foodstuffs for the populace to have a healthy diet via bartering.

Many villages of this size might support itinerant peddlers and tradesman providing many of the other services useful for the village -- rag and bone man collecting rags, bones, and bits of scrap metal (they might double as tinkers too), traveling blacksmith fixing and making tools, traveling Ferrier if the residents have horses for working their land, tinkers to repair metal pots and pans.

Then maybe a cooper to make barrels for storing food for winter and transportation to markets for sale, and wheelwrights, and carpenters.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think you mean "a healthy diet via bartering ". +1 For the travelling specialized craftsmen. $\endgroup$ – BuggyMelon Aug 21 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ @BuggyMelon you obviously haven't been to Scotland if you think that you can't get a diet via battering. $\endgroup$ – MD-Tech Aug 21 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ @MD-Tech No. But it's on my list of places to go. Though I'll argue that japanese street food has a fair share of batter. mouth watering Darn, when's lunch? $\endgroup$ – BuggyMelon Aug 21 at 10:04
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A village of that size would not have any professions, just crafts, trades and occupations.

The majority of the work would be done by women, and, as today, would mainly not be recognised as work - making and repairing clothes, rearing children , preparing food, brewing, baking, looking after livestock etc.

The most important person for future generations would be the midwife, who will be main determinant of mortality rate. (Though you might well geta midwife to come from the next village)

EDIT: To expand: what I'm trying to get at is the modern assumption that everyone has a job and a job title. That comes later. On this type of society there is little specialisation, but some people may have specific skills. Uncle Fred makes charcoal and shares it with the others, Aunt Mary always attends women in childbirth, Cousin Paul will help with building the walls of your hovel. It's an informal economy and you may be butchering a calf in the morning, fishing trout in the afternoon and smoking pork in the evening without being a butcher, fisherman or smoker.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note to downvotes: this answer takes the question literally, which is a good thing and technically correct, the best kind of correct. In English English, the word "profession" indicates a lawyer, a medical doctor, an architect and other such occupations which are compensated by fees as opposed to wages. Butcher, baker, candestick maker and so on are not "professions", they are trades. The first line of the answer is incontestably true: it is extremely unlikely to have actual professions in the village; craftspeople and tradespeople, maybe. +1. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 21 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ On the edge between +1 and no vote. Issues: "...most important … midwife … mortality..." Midwives are useful, but despite modern ideas that all births should be medically supervised, the reality is that births literally take care of themselves quite well. Women giving birth don't even need to know what to do. Having knowledgeable assistance is great and extremely helpful, but it's not technically necessary. Two things to help mortality are: stop telling women to push when they are not ready yet, and keep the area clean. The less interference the better. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 21 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ ... and 2) a clarification request, by "majority of the work" do you mean majority of the different tasks or majority of time spent working? $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 21 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, the second point needs clarification, otherwise that's just plain false. I'm not even sure where to start refuting as not a single part of it is true. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Aug 21 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ There might not be a specific midwife. Assisting in normal childbirth would be a natural activity for older women who have been through it and seen it done many times before. Almost any problem would be fatal. $\endgroup$ – Patricia Shanahan Aug 21 at 22:20
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With that small of a group most would be farmers. Some of them might have a sideline like being a blacksmith in addition to being a farmer. Every family would be able to do some craft work like spinning thread or wool, sewing, carpentry, Leather work including tanning, and so on.

The population would probably have to reach a few thousand to allow things like full time blacksmiths, furniture makers, doctors, brewers, bakers, and so on.

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  • $\begingroup$ Every necessary task would be performed by someone as a sideline. The tasks still have to be performed: building, carpentering, smithing, thatching, potting... They would get the man with the hammer to come and build something, and in return he'd get his roof mended. $\endgroup$ – RedSonja Aug 21 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ In mediaeval towns every craftsman also had a garden for vegetables, chickens and maybe a pig. They didn't just do their craft, unless it was a really big town. $\endgroup$ – RedSonja Aug 21 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ My grandfather, and two generations before him, was a blacksmith in a small village, yet he also had a small farm for subsistence. With plenty of farmers and their draught animals around, you definitely need a blacksmith. $\endgroup$ – Dohn Joe Aug 22 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to the professions you already mentioned. You need someone who makes barrels (without cider medieval life isn't as fun; also Sauerkraut needs to be stored). Also a potter would be fine to have around. $\endgroup$ – Dohn Joe Aug 22 at 8:58
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You forgot the major rule-enforcer, the village priest. It might not be exactly commercial in nature but it's certainly a profession and is one of the few people the slight excess food production will go toward supporting.

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    $\begingroup$ And as the village is small enough and so probably not exactly rich, the priest will also likely have at least a garden for vegetables, a few chicken, etc. to complement his meager income. $\endgroup$ – vsz Aug 20 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ And he’ll probably also act as a healer, messenger, history-keeper, manager etc. $\endgroup$ – Michael Aug 20 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ Well, a single priest could still service multiple villages; and in smaller villages, the priest would have multiple jobs to do, including food production. There are definitely times and regions where priests were pretty much a leisure class, but it's not a given. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Aug 20 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ Modern priests service multiple small villages, but they have the advantage of modern transportation. You can't lead religious services in two villages on the same day, if travelling from one to the other is a five-hour walk or horse-ride. Remember these people may never travel more than 15 or 20 miles from their birthplace in their whole life. $\endgroup$ – alephzero Aug 20 at 10:54
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    $\begingroup$ @alephzero if it's 100 people including children, then it's like a dozen farms (husband,wife,husbands parent(s),5+ kids and perhaps a landless laborer or two) what documentation we have from Christian places like these suggest that they'd spend a significant part of their sunday going to/from a church which had a priest, since they wouldn't have a local one. It wouldn't be that far, since 100 people (with kids) can't farm nearly as much land as nowadays, it's not like it would be 10 miles until the next populated place which might actually be a much larger "proper" village with a church. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Aug 20 at 19:02
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If you had ever played Banished, you'd have skipped this question and asked how many of each for a given population size, and you'd know the temporal order in which the professions are important.

Farms, farms, and more farms? Not w/o seeds, and probably not before the fishery, and definitely not before hunting and gathering. Roam out into the wilderness expecting to subsistence farm your way, and you'll all die from starvation by no later than next summer.

https://banished-wiki.com/wiki/Professions

If there's one profession this game is missing, it's bakers. But by the time someone builds an oven, to feed other people, I suppose the town would be large enough to no longer be considered 'banished'.... You can't bake without grain, and you can't harvest grain if you're dead from starvation. And by its nature, subsistence farming yields no 'product', so it's a long road you've got ahead of you until you're able to trade/buy bread.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note: the picture is probably from the very beginning of a game on easy, where you start with seeds and one type of domesticated animal. On hard, there's no seeds or animals until you trade for them, so you have to start at the beginning: hunting, fishing, and gathering. Also on hard, you'd be lucky to die from starvation, after having survived an extremely cruel winter. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 21 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ Also notice: the list is more or less in the order you need them (the beginning is a little jumbled), but the last three are spot on: teachers, physicians, and least of all, clerics. None of those help feed you or survive the winter. Mining and stone cutting are for when you're well beyond subsistence farming and don't have better jobs for all the new people. Or it's just somewhere to dump them after a population spike. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 21 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ In my day we'd have loved to die from starvation! What a luxury! Families with children who'd died of starvation would brag about it! We'd gather around and cheer the starving on to the next stage! [in case I did that as poorly as I suspect: this comment is a joking reference to the Four Yorkshiremen sketch by Monty Python] $\endgroup$ – msouth Aug 21 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ You seem to be assuming this is a group of 100 people who find themselves suddenly, and as a whole group, on their own in the wilderness starting from nothing. That was not stated in the question, so it can be assumed they are already established and not like "Hey, let's all gather around and decide what professions we should support." But the situation you describe does sound like an interesting one to consider as well. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Aug 21 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Without knowing how long ago the town was established, and its proximity to other established towns and the list of their amenities, we kinda have to assume we're starting from zero, otherwise, depending, the answer to "need" could still be zero, or e.g., 100 florists. - Take only what you NEED to survive... which does not normally include Hot Air machines. - The question is two sentences long. And the last half of the second one is useless information because it doesn't name a religion. So yeah, some assumptions were made. - And then there's location.... $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 22 at 0:46
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They've already answered above saying that food would be their priority and that their professions would depend on whether the community is a satellite settlement or not, but also keep into account how many adults you have.

Babies can't work, and children can only lend a hand with less physically-demanding tasks such as fetching water; herding geese, sheep, or goats; gathering fruit, nuts, or firewood; walking and watering horses; fishing; tending a vegetable or herb garden; making or mending clothes; churning butter; brewing beer; and helping with the cooking.

Teens can help with more difficult tasks, such as goading the ox in the fields while an adult handles the plough, and they might babysit. But this all depends on the settlement's population pyramid. If you say there are 100 able-bodied and -minded adults, then your population is probably actually larger than 100 because there are both young and old people that you aren't taking into the equation.

If you've got 100 people total, counting babies and children and teens and young adults and adults and elderly people, then your workforce will probably be halved at the very least, assuming the population pyramid is a healthy one (a larger number of younger people than older people).

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There are two occupations no one has mentioned, but which would exist even in a village this small:

  • Shepherd. That is, someone to watch over the animals grazing in the village pasture. One can't simply assume that these animals aren't at risk from predators or thieves (which include inhabitants of the next village over who are looking for a quick & easy way to increase their own flocks). Yes, this shepherd might simply be a teenager -- male or female -- who does this for a year with no training beyond a few words of advice & a threat if he lets anything happen to the animals, but it is one st of hands taken out of the general labor pool.

  • Woodsman. All that wood for houses, furniture & tools has to come from somewhere. Most medieval English villages had 20-50 acres of woodland, which would need a specialist to look after. And wood was produced from most medieval woodlots not by cutting down the trees & planting new ones, but by coppicing: cutting the tree to produce suckers, which were allowed to grow into sizable diameters before harvesting. This meant that instead of producing timber once ever 30-40 years, a tree would produce useful timber every 7-20 years. I'll admit a village of 100 souls might not have its own woodlot & no woodsman, but a village of any size will have a shepherd. If you increase the size of the village, say to 500 inhabitants, a woodsman would be one of the next professions this village would need.

BTW, farming tends to be a full-time activity only for half the year -- spring & fall -- leaving them idle during the winter & summer. And idle hands are the devil's workshop: what better activity for an illiterate & physically fit peasant than to stir up trouble in the neighboring village? (Think of this as the ancestor to the modern sports rivalry between schools & cities.)

Geoff

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  • $\begingroup$ There is strong documentary evidence for some communities having a communal herdsman who looked after all the grazing animals. $\endgroup$ – Patricia Shanahan Aug 24 at 18:46
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Butcher, baker, candlestickmaker, doctor, teacher, miller, hoo.. oh wait, you said fictitious god overseeing all of them. So a Preacher. Most are farmers, some are hunters. All folks could have multiple roles. And a blacksmith for making/fixing tools.

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    $\begingroup$ a community that small is not supporting specialized labor. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 19 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @John, very wrong. What you've failed to consider is in medieval times most land workers were serfs of land lords. They owed a certain amount of labor to their lord's household which often included specialized labors such as all of those CrossRoads mentioned (except perhaps doctor). A manor that supported only 100 serfs would have been relatively small, implying it would likely be in close proximity to other manors and their villages. So the potential local market for goods from specialized labor would be even greater and a welcome increase to the lord's tax base. $\endgroup$ – dhinson919 Aug 20 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ @dhinson919 Specialised labours yes. But not full-time specialised labourers. You're not going to have a butcher who's only income is butchering; a baker who's only income is baking, or a doctor, who's only income is healing people. You have people with specialised knowledge, but they're still spending most of their time doing the same things the others do - procuring food. And being serfs meant that they had that much less income to support specialised professions (all else equal). $\endgroup$ – Luaan Aug 20 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Luaan you are the only person who has used the words "full-time" and "only" here. Where did CrossRoads even imply that? He even said "folks could have multiple roles". I said labors "which often included specialized labors. John's statement is flat out wrong, nothing CrossRoads said is inaccurate, you are putting words into others' mouths, and this is not a negative answer. $\endgroup$ – dhinson919 Aug 21 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ @dhinson919 The OP was asking for professions. Profession is a full-time job. Maybe you have a different meaning in mind, like "someone with specialised knowledge/skills". $\endgroup$ – Luaan Aug 21 at 7:01
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A population of 100 isn't large enough to leverage the economics of scale, not even by Medieval period standards. I would expect every person older than a small child to be engaged in two or more trades and they would all occasionally collaborate on major projects like building a new house. Although none of them would rise to the same level of expertise that they would have been in a larger town, at least someone would have step into the role of healer and midwife. Every house would have a personal garden, and they would probably still rely heavily on hunting and gathering. If you're really interested in this topic, Joseph and Frances Gies wrote a series of well researched and popular books on Life in a Medieval Village, City, and Castle. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18546.Joseph_Gies

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Farming comes first, but it is also seasonal

Farming produces food (which is essential for survival), fuel, and fibers. Most of the adult and teenage male population will be busy during the entire day during plowing, planting, and harvesting. But this is seasonal, and there are periods when farming requires only a few hours (or none at all) each day. Weeds and winter crops (if grown at all) grow slowly and do not need constant attention. Therefore, there will be seasons with plenty of down-time, and workers will find hobbies or crafts to do during this time.

Seasonal crafts could include brewing, weaving, leatherworking, shoemaking, pottery, light carpentry, and furniture-making. As the demand for these cottage industries is low, there is likely to be only one person in the village for each type of craft, with households trading for the goods that they need. Excess laborers could engage in woodcutting, hunting, or fishing. One farm with a mill is enough for grinding grain. The construction of new buildings would be performed by the community, much like an Amish barn-raising. But these are all seasonal activities, not full-time professions.

Women in medieval times were responsible for cooking, baking, food preservation, cleaning, and child-rearing. Some women would serve as nurses/midwives, when needed (i.e. not a full-time profession). Pre-teen children took care of the livestock.

The only true full-time profession would be the priest. If you plan to give your population a basic education, then during the week he can teach children how to read the bible.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why would brewing be seasonal? Grain has a much longer shelf life than ale, so it would make sense to brew only what will be consumed in a relatively short period, and do so throughout the year. $\endgroup$ – Patricia Shanahan Aug 24 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ @PatriciaShanahan: Although I used the term "seasonal", they're basically "when one has spare time". During planting and harvest times, one would be too busy to do these activities. But these last at most a few weeks, which should be shorter than the shelf life of the alcohol. Most of the year would be available for craftwork. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Aug 24 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest alternative terms "casual" or "part time". "Seasonal" makes me think of jobs that, no matter how important, can only be done at certain times of year such as plowing, harvest, and haymaking. $\endgroup$ – Patricia Shanahan Aug 26 at 3:56
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I want to bring in another aspect: Not all villagers are equal (economically and probably also legally). There are a few farmers owning land and farm buildings, there are cottagers owning a small house and maybe a small patch of land for gardening, but working on the farms, and farmhands owning only their clothes and nothing much more. Maybe there is a nobleman present in the village, but he will be just a farmer as the other farmers.

There will be some specialized workshops: a blacksmith, a mill, a carpenter, but some of the workshop holders will also engage in farming. The village probably has a public baking house for fire protection, but not a baker.

And of course, there is a priest.

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Assuming they don't have other villages, I would expect you'd have someone fulfilling these roles:

  • Tool Makers. In most cases, this might be the blacksmith, but you could also have someone chipping stone, carving wood, or whatever the local materials are available. The number of tool-makers is pretty dependent on demand. If there is a low one, they are probably wearing more than one hat. If there is a high demand, then they could specialize (e.g., not be farming as their primary job).
  • Sales: In other words, shopkeepers and someone to manage those disputes. This could be someone wearing many hats (100 is rather small, so there might not be enough room for specialization) or if a town has a lot of trade among members, then I could see either a general store. If there is enough business, someone who imports/exports goods would set up store otherwise it could be "go down the street to Mel's and buy some sugar".
  • Rule Enforcement: Police, guards. Again, it depends on how independent the village is. For a close-knit community, enforcement could be done with mob rule (troublemakers with "great big bushy beards" are dealt with ad-hoc) or there could be more formal enforcement. I was in a village that had a police department only during daylight hours with a voice mail message to call the next city over for night time.
  • Moral Enforcement: You said strict religious code. That would suggest you would need at least someone to interpret the dogma. Depending on how strict it is, there may actually be more than a few for supporting that. Again, the more focus you have on something, the higher chance you can have a specialist (priest) verses the mayor who happens to be religious.

A lot of it depends on what the village needs. At the basic levels, you just go to neighbors to ask for things (tools, food). Its when it becomes a significant effort (usually with the number of people involved or the complexities to maintain it) you get specialties (e.g., professions). So, it may be good to look at what they have and what they need.

Take an example: alcohol. Pretty much any farmer can make mead or ferment something. My father's father had a small room in his basement to make honey mead. Occasionally his friends would come over and they would drink it. That's your basic, go visit some friends.

Now, if the religion dictates that all alcohol must be blessed, then you add complexity. Someone has to manage it. For a few people, that might be easy, but soon it becomes a full time job (e.g., a profession) to bless all the spirits.

Enforcing that blessed rule would start as a simple task ("we police ourselves") but as the scope gets bigger, people abuse the system and end up driving orange cars around Hazard County. Then you need someone who spends most of their day not farming but chasing down the Duke Brothers. So, then you need a specialist (profession) to enforce the rules.

If the materials to make spirits are local, that's easy. However if there is some component (hops) that needs to be imported, you have to have someone doing the importing. If that is occasional (traveling merchant), you have someone to flies in, sells stuff, and moves on. However, if there is enough demand, someone is going to get in the role of mainly managing sales. That's your general store at first and then more specialized stores as the exchanges get more prevalent (a hundred people probably wouldn't have enough business to support more than a couple stores).

Same with clothing, woodcraft, stone, etc. It depends on the demand and the support structure. You'd be surprised how much you can get away with a once a week farmer's market. Hell, even once a quarter for things like outfits and furniture. That doesn't need strict professions.

Short answer: depends on what they need. If there is enough demand, someone will make a job of it.

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    $\begingroup$ There is no store with only 100 people, they have no manufacturing based to support a store, everyone makes everything. the closest they will have to a "store" is a market day where people trade agricultural products or side labor. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 19 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Rule enforcement will be a community effort, there's not nearly enough people to support or warrant a full-time guard. I don't think that should be in the top 4. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Aug 19 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ That's why I said mob or ad-hoc. However, if enforcement is required from an external force (e.g., the strict religious code), there might be a dedicated person. Since I don't know what the code is, that is why I said there might be one. You never know, it might say "any community must have a dedicated enforcement of the One True Way". In that case, you could have a token profession which would justify it. Or, if the only place to get the Blessed Token of Macguffin is outside of the village, there might be a store (which could be someone's living room). Again, unknown external possibilities. $\endgroup$ – dmoonfire Aug 19 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ In the past, a village close to my home was pretty much just a few farms and woodworkers that somehow managed to subsist. They could not support their own priest and had to go to a distant faraway village for High Mass. In winter they had to put their deceased into "cold storage" until the weather conditions made it possible to hold a funeral. $\endgroup$ – MauganRa Aug 20 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ Police in a mediaeval village? They're a 19th century invention. The county would have a sheriff and maybe a deputy sheriff, who might come through the village occasionally, but they'd live in a major town. See: hue and cry. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Aug 20 at 11:30
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Ok agreed with some farmers, but they can't farm naked, so the village will have at least one crew of people that can handle making clothes.

Farming can be rude for clothes, so this crew has a job all the year. Especially when winter is coming

To make houses, and repair this village need a crew that is good to build with wood or other component and make tools with the help of a blacksmith.

Then all of those people need to drink (beer are made by farmer, but beer need water) and a farmer also need water to cultivate. So a crew that brings water to the village is essential.

A mayor is also essential, even a little village need a chief.

It's not all about farmers, but a village in medieval just need to cover the bascis I guess

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  • $\begingroup$ It's only very recently that making clothes was considered a specialist's job -- in the medieval era, a woman who couldn't turn freshly-sheared wool into clothing was either very rich, or hopelessly inept. Construction was a collective task for almost as long -- having the entire community pitch in at a house-raising or barn-raising was a tradition clear through the early 1900s. A village without a well or a stream to provide water simply won't exist. With only a hundred people, "mayor" or "chief" will be a very part-time job of one of the farmers. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 22 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark, I think that's another way of saying that about half the adults have clothing-making as part of their jobs. $\endgroup$ – Jetpack Aug 23 at 3:28

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