A Cultural History of Work in the Early Modern Age
A Cultural History of Work in the Early Modern Age

Bert De Munck

Bert De Munck is Full Professor at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He teaches ‘Early Modern History’, ‘Theory of Historical Knowledge’, and ‘Heritage and Public history’. He is a member of the Centre for Urban History, Antwerp, and the Director of the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Institute. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and Thomas Max Safley

Thomas Max Safley is Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. A specialist in the economic and social history of early modern Europe, he has published extensively on the history of marriage and the family, the history of poverty and charity, and the history of labor and business. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2019



Early Modern

Related Content

Work and Workplaces

DOI: 10.5040/9781350078260.ch-004
Page Range: 67–88

The “long” sixteenth century was characterized by remarkable public and intellectual interest in the world of work, which included, at least to some degree, workplaces and work practices. This interest had various roots.[1] One of them was part and parcel of what J. D. Bernal called the first two phases of the “scientific revolution” from 1440 to 1650. This revolution was characterized, in Bernal’s view, by close—although historically rare—relationships between scholars and craftsmen as well as between theory and practice in general.[2] It was manifested by a book production boom throughout western and central Europe, based on the rapid expansion of the printing industry from the middle of the fifteenth century. Two kinds of books addressed the world of work: first, encyclopedic descriptions of all known human professions, from the top of the social ladder all the way down to its lowest ranks. Two especially successful publications of this kind should be mentioned: Tomaso Garzoni’s La piazza universale di tutte le professioni del mondo, first published in Venice in 1585, and Jost Amman’s True description of all ranks on earth, high and low, spiritual and secular, of all arts, crafts and trades, from the greatest to the smallest, also their origin, invention and customs, published in Frankfurt in 1568, usually known in German as Ständebuch and in English as the Book of Trades. Garzoni’s text presented a total of 540 occupations. For many of those in the crafts and trades and agriculture, he described entire production processes, with emphasis on raw materials, tools, and finished products, and sometimes included a look at work practices and workplaces. Whereas the first edition of Garzoni’s work lacked any illustrations, the merit of the book by Amman, a Nuremberg wood cutter, is its visual representation of work. His book contains woodcut illustrations of 132 professions, accompanied by short poems by the famous Nuremberg shoe maker and master singer Hans Sachs. Almost one hundred of them are devoted to crafts and trades. And all the protagonists of the artisanal occupations are depicted at work and within their respective workplaces, while the remaining “ranks”—from pope and king on top, through various military ranks, and all the way down to all kinds of “fools”—are identified by their appearance and attire, and not by a particular space. Both books were “veritable bestseller(s)” in their days, going through several editions and translations into other European languages.[3]

The second genre of books dealing with work was devoted to economic sectors or production branches which were considered, in the sixteenth century, as particularly important or innovative. There is a rich body of contemporary writings particularly focused on mining, metallurgy, chemistry, machineries, and fortification.[4] Even more widespread and popular was literature for landowners on agriculture and proper household management, such as “books of husbandry,” “domestic conduct books,” and the so-called “Hausväterliteratur” in the German-speaking world.[5] Most of these publications were richly illustrated, and they also came out in several editions as well as in translations into the vernacular (when originally written in Latin). Even when work practices were not at the very center of these publications, both texts and illustrations offer glimpses of workplaces in various economic branches.

Of course, such descriptions and visual representations do not automatically and necessarily represent realities of sixteenth-century work and labor. Most authors embedded their writings into moral reflections, and they took parts of their evidence from classical texts, as well as from the writings or drawings of their contemporary colleagues and competitors. They regularly offered idealized, normative, or schematic versions of work, or they endeavored to stimulate the imagination of their readers. However, they also claimed to provide practical knowledge or even applied science. And the professional habitus of Renaissance and humanist scholars included the readiness to learn from practitioners of the “mechanical arts.” When Leon Battista Alberti wrote an autobiographical text in 1438, at age thirty-four, in order to construct an identity, he claimed that he used to learn from humble folks, too, particularly from the practical work experiences of artisans, and even of shoe makers.[6] However idealized this attitude was, it had a realistic substance as well. Publications from the first phases of the “scientific revolution” and, more generally, the spread of a new knowledge culture in the sixteenth century, certainly inspire the historical study of workplaces.

However, there are other historical sources as well. First, there is an enormously rich body of visual representations of workplaces of various kinds beyond the realm of book publications—for instance, paintings on altar panels or frescoes on church walls or other public buildings, which were usually related to the identity formation of specific social groups. Some historians believe that the sixteenth century was “The Golden Age” in the iconography of work.[7] Other sources stem, for instance, from the administrative remnants of trade associations such as guilds or of large enterprises such as mines, workhouses, state-run shipyards, and the like, which were recorded by their officials.[8] Medieval and early modern archaeology has helped to find out where in cities which workplaces were in operation.[9] Also of great importance are “traditional” serial qualitative sources such as court records, protocols and minutes, contracts, and the like, which provide—usually by chance—glimpses of work situations.[10] In light of the fact that writing autobiographical texts was highly esteemed by Renaissance scholars and artists, autobiographies and other ego-documents offer access to the workplaces of learned men.[11] Such sources are, in different ways, close to workplace realities, even if they, of course, call for careful interpretation.

All these historical sources have been used by historians, but in selective ways. The study of sixteenth-century workplaces is not a prominent topic within the historiography of work and labor, but rather situated at the interface of several historical (sub)disciplines. Historians of science and of technology are particularly interested in innovative changes in tools, machineries, and production processes.[12] Economic historians look at the major economic sectors such as agriculture, industry, and trade with a particular emphasis on large enterprises.[13] As a rule, historians of small-scale production in artisanal crafts and trades or in rural protoindustry focus much more intensely on workshops and work practices.[14] The same holds true for local or regional microstudies that emphasize all aspects of daily life, including work.[15] Most of these studies include the household and female reproductive activities.[16]

To sum up, the reconstruction of workplaces of the “long” sixteenth century is like putting together a puzzle by taking pieces from various sources. And, of course, presenting workplaces in the space of a single chapter requires selectivity. The aim of the chapter is twofold. First, it shows examples of the diversity of workplaces and of the changes in those sectors which were economically and culturally significant for the sixteenth century, which employed considerable parts of the population, and which are well-documented in sources and historiography. The emphasis is on agriculture, urban crafts and trades, and large enterprises. Second, it aims to discuss three basic features of sixteenth-century work and labor: the combination of various workplaces by individual men and women; the connections of outdoor and indoor work; and the fluid borders between the workplace and other spheres of life.

The Economic Background

Already in early modern times, the characteristics of workplaces depended on the structure and development of the economy. The period from 1450 to 1650 was a period of demographic and economic growth. In the two centuries between the “crisis of the late Middle Ages” and the “crisis of the seventeenth century” the European population grew by half, from about seventy million to at least one hundred and five million. All sectors experienced economic growth, agriculture as well as industry, commerce, and finance. Part and parcel of this process was increasing social differentiation, the rise of smallholders and of landless families on the countryside, and the rise of unpropertied classes in towns. However, these economic and social transformations did not take place in a linear manner throughout the period under observation, and not at all evenly in all European regions.

The economic and social changes of the long sixteenth century had an enormous impact on workplaces in two respects. First, new workplaces were created, existing ones changed, and others vanished. Second, the expanding but unstable markets for wage labor required a flexible labor force, which meant workers of both sexes had to be ready—or were forced by need—to work in one place for a couple of days or weeks, and in another for a different period of time, and to change their workplaces according to the demand of employers. Temporary or seasonal labor migration was an important element of this fluid labor market regime. But also, those peasants or master artisans in crafts and trades who managed to keep their workplace throughout their entire life course had to adapt to changing demands by consumers and, more generally, “markets.”

However, markets in early modern times were still embedded in non-market-related activities much more than in the industrial age and much more strongly influenced by noneconomic factors. In most parts of Europe, agriculture was embedded in feudal power relations, which influenced or limited the scope of producers’ activity, again across a broad spectrum. Since family and household were basic units of agriculture and, although to a lesser extent, of crafts and trades, there was a strong influence on the world of work of the respective culturally based family systems and household patterns. All these factors had severe consequences for the structure of workplaces in the whole economy.

Workplaces in Agriculture

Until the seventeenth century, the vast majority of the European population worked in agriculture and lived in the countryside. In his famous social survey conducted in 1688, English statistician Gregory King even estimated that 88 percent of his fellow countrymen and countrywomen were engaged in agriculture, although many of them not on a full-time basis but in combination with various other economic activities.[17] Highly urbanized regions did exist, such as Holland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries or parts of northern Italy since the Renaissance, but they were exceptions.

The weather and climate had a discernible influence on agricultural workplaces and processes. From the Middle Ages until the mid-sixteenth century, Europe enjoyed a favorable, warm and mild climate, but at about 1550 a remarkable decline in temperatures set in, which led to the “Little Ice Age” of the seventeenth century. The impact of this change, however, varied considerably depending on climate zones and ecological conditions. Agricultural workplaces also differed because of socioeconomic factors such as the size of farms or holdings; labor organization; family and household structures; the various degrees of peasants’ independence versus feudal subordination; and regional-sepcific factors and produce. Everywhere, the world of sixteenth-century peasants included elements of subsistence economy as well as elements of market orientation, due to the pressure and the desire to make money to pay taxes or rents, to buy land or goods, or simply to have savings to draw on in years of bad harvest.

Moreover, in most parts of early modern Europe mixed farming dominated, albeit to varying degrees. That means that the work of peasants was not bound to one single workplace or a single work process only, but involved several workplaces, and each of them required a range of activities which changed over the course of the seasons. The predominant feature was diversity and variety of workplaces. This applied to an even greater extent to smallholders or landless villagers, who supplemented their income with various forms of wage labor, quite often as part-time workers in cottage industry or as seasonal migrant workers at a great distance from their own homes. When the French philosopher and politician Michel de Montaigne visited Rome in spring 1581, he made a day trip to Ostia on March 15 to see the famous harbor and salt works and, more generally, the region surrounding Rome. In a diary entry, he mentions a meeting with migrant workers: “On my journey hither I met diverse troops of villagers from the Grisons and Savoy on their way to seek work in the Roman vineyards and gardens, and they told me they gained this wage every year.” Montaigne explained the need for migrant workers in terms of the lackadaisical work ethic in Rome. “The city is all for the court and the nobility, every one adapting himself to the ease and idleness of ecclesiastic surroundings.”[18] More often, however, the destinations of migrant agricultural laborers were economically flourishing rural areas which specialized in market production and export. There was a considerable trend towards specialization in the sixteenth-century European rural economy, including the reemergence of great latifundia—for instance, rice cultivation on the northern Italian Po plain. Specialization made work and workplaces in agriculture more uniform and less varied in principle, but for the seasonal labor migrants, it created once more short-term workplaces among the many they experienced throughout the year.

The following paragraphs discuss some examples of sixteenth-century agricultural workplaces, based on regional and local studies. Italy, in particular, is blessed with microstudies on early modern peasantries and village life. A particularly inspiring example is Gregory Hanlon’s “thick description” of Montefollonico in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a small Tuscan village southwest of Siena, situated in the hilly area between the Val d’Orcia and the Val di Chiana. Here the peasants practiced a “carefully varied polyculture.”[19] Their main workplaces consisted of enclosed plots of land lined with hedgerows in which they cultivated grapevines as well as olive and other fruit trees, interspersed with grain, mainly wheat, and various vegetables. In addition to producing their own food, they cultivated industrial plants such as hemp, flax, and mulberry trees, whose leaves were used to raise silkworms. Such a mixed agriculture required and offered a wide range of labor activities throughout the year. The most labor-intensive season was summer, when grain was harvested with a sickle, followed by the grape harvest and winemaking in early autumn. There followed plowing arable land and sowing the winter seed, and then picking olives. Rejuvenating the vineyards and fertilizing the soil were typical winter tasks, followed by mowing grass in the spring, and so on and so forth. Women participated in many of these activities, but their workplaces were more concentrated around the farmhouse. In addition to their household chores, they worked in the gardens, fed and milked the few animals, and were responsible for the poultry. In the house, they produced cheese, processed saffron, or raised silkworms and prepared their cocoons to sell in towns.

In a wider sense and far beyond their own fields, the workplaces of Montefollonico’s peasants encompassed the whole village. The olives had to be carried to the press, animals that grazed on fallow land had to be monitored and kept off enclosed fields. The surrounding forests offered fodder for animals, as well as fuel for heating and cooking. And many villagers were economically active far beyond the village borders—performing seasonal work at one of the large estates in the Maremma for a few weeks, or engaging in transhumance migration towards the coast. The versatility of work and the variety of rural workplaces in such a setting is expressed in the words of a forty-year-old villager involved in a criminal case in 1662, who owned and cultivated his own land, but performed many other activities as well.

I am a soldier and a sergeant, sometimes I’m a blacksmith and sometimes I work on my land … Ten days ago I went with my horse (a donkey) to Foiano with the father Provincial and his companion (as passengers), and then I returned home to Montefollonico to be paid for it … Sometimes I go to collect wood with my horse, which I pasture on my own land, sometimes I take on chores of my own and sometimes I help maestro Camillo, blacksmith, and for other business, I exercise my hoe.[20]

While Montefollonico serves as an example of workplace diversity in Mediterranean mixed farming, a look at the Dutch rural economy provides insights into an area of advanced agricultural specialization. In 1567, the Florentine noblemen Ludovico Guicciardini, who had lived in Antwerp since 1542 and travelled frequently throughout the Low Countries, published Description of All the Low Countries (Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi). The book became a success and was translated into several languages and shaped how the Netherlands came to be imagined by generations of educated European readers. Guicciardini was impressed by Holland’s agrarian landscape, where—according to his observation—“the fields have mainly a very favourable appearance … with rich green pastures full of all sorts of grazing cattle, which pastures, according to common opinion, are much greener and richer than in Italy; which is, I think, because of the plenteous dampness of the earth.”[21] Illustrations in this book as well as contemporary paintings, such as the The Polder Het Grootslag by an anonymous artist about 1595 (Figure 3.1), show rows of farmsteads of similar appearance and size, consisting of narrow but rather long strips of land, separated from their neighbors by drainage canals.[22] Seen from the village road, a farmhouse was situated at the beginning of each of these rectangular plots, and they were followed by a series of meadows/pastures, divided by small tributary canals, where cattle grazed or hay was harvested. This is the image of an extremely well-ordered rural economy, typical of recently drained polders in Holland and other parts of the Netherlands. In these areas in the sixteenth century, agriculture was interwoven with commercial capitalism and dominated by livestock farming and dairy production for Dutch urban markets and for export abroad.

Figure 3.1. Anonymous, The Polder Het Grootslag, 1595. © City of Enkhuizen.

Under these conditions the workplaces of the farmers, their families, and their servants had a clear magnitude, and their work a clear focus and a regular rhythm: raising and caring for cattle, milking about two dozen cows and processing the milk, providing fodder and keeping enough grass and hay in the barns, manuring the pastures, and last but not least keeping the drainage system working. Some amount of milk may have been sold in nearby towns, but more often it was used to produce butter and/or cheese. Farmers in southern parts of Holland specialized in butter and skimmed milk cheese, while in the northern parts of the province whole milk cheese prevailed. Livestock farming required throughout the whole year a stable workforce in which women got involved, particularly for milking—which required considerable experience and skill—and the making of butter and cheese. In the affluent Dutch farming regions, a trend emerged in the sixteenth century towards a new farmhouse architecture combining a dwelling, stables, and barns—and all related labor activities and workplaces—under one big roof.[23]

These images give an idealized picture, but it was not unrealistic one, in the long sixteenth century, for a large number of Dutch farmers in some regions. Besides dairy farming and cattle breeding, other specializations of agricultural production developed in a garden-like manner. Hemp was cultivated in small, heavily manured gardens, prepared during the winter months, and sold to urban ropeyards. Cash crops such as madder were planted and exported to England. Farmers in the vicinity of large towns specialized in horticulture, producing onions, horseradish, cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables. In the early seventeenth century, the cultivation of tulip bulbs expanded and culminated in the famous “tulipomania” boom in the 1630s.[24]

All these workplaces were integrated into regional, supraregional, and international markets and transportation networks. However, they coexisted with earlier patterns of mixed farming and with the manifold activities of poor rural folks, who “pieced together a livelihood by whatever means were at their disposal,” such as reed collecting, peat digging, freshwater fishing, fowling, boat and wagon transport, seafaring, dike and ditch labor, and not to forget spinning. In the Dutch economy of the Golden Age, the well-ordered agrarian workplace for some was accompanied by varied combinations of highly diverse workplaces for many others.[25]

Specialization in agricultural production was not always related to good income and affluent peasantries. On the other end of the social scale, we find impoverished specialization in which poor people bound their hopes to economic niches. Let us have a look at the rural economy in southern France. As in other parts of Europe, quite different agricultural work situations coexisted here in small regions due to local variations in soils, climate, and altitude, but also in respect to market accessibility and economic specialization. The Languedoc in southern France, stretching from the Mediterranean coast to the mountainous areas of the Cévennes, is a fine example of variation within one province. Furthermore, the workplaces of peasants and agricultural laborers underwent continuous change throughout the sixteenth century, reflecting the varying local and transregional demand for and price of certain products. In climatically favored parts of the Languedoc there was a “renaissance” of the olive tree and of olive groves, and an expansion of wheat fields due to rising grain prices—both at the expense of vineyards. In the less favored Cévennes, however, a traditional food and cash crop gained new significance, the chestnut.[26]

In most Mediterranean regions chestnuts were an essential part of the diet, not only but particularly among the poor. In southern France, they also became an important market crop throughout the sixteenth century. In the mountainous plateau of the Cévennes, in its steep valley slopes and its southern and eastern fringes towards the Rhône valley and the coastal areas, trees were planted and harvested by large property owners as well as by small peasants, cottagers, and laborers. Therefore, forests of chestnut trees were workplaces for large parts of the rural population, at least in some periods of the year. Working there meant much more than simply collecting ripe chestnuts in the autumn. The work cycle started with creating terraces on the steep hills or repairing the walls of already existing ones. The next step included planting new young trees and cutting the soil around them. Mature trees required some care once a year, such as pruning and crafting, which were usually done in January. March was the time for cutting those young trees which had grown wild, and which were a valuable raw material, demanded by local and more distant coopers for the manufacture of barrels. In October, the ripe chestnuts were collected, sold to wholesale buyers, or processed—for instance, ground. The Cévennes were—in the words of Le Roy Ladurie—in the sixteenth century still “a land without bread,” a region based on the chestnut.[27]

Workplaces in Urban Crafts and Trades

The long sixteenth century was a time of renewed dynamism of population growth and urbanization in most European regions, before it came to a halt with the crises of the seventeenth century. In the sixteenth century, however, most of the cities were small, consisting of several hundred or a few thousand people. Only about 10 percent of the European population lived in cities with more than five thousand inhabitants. By 1600 we find two or three dozen cities with more than thirty thousand inhabitants throughout Europe, and about a dozen with more than one hundred thousand.

However large or small, all towns and cities were centers of crafts and trades. Wealth usually stemmed, apart from real property, from trading and financial operations, and rich merchants—next to and overlapping with urban aristocrats—dominated the urban upper classes. The urban economy on the whole, however, was numerically dominated by artisans. In the German trading center of Frankfurt, which had about seven to eight thousand inhabitants in the second half of the fifteenth century, a census in 1440 listed about 1,800 “economically independent male persons.” Almost 60 percent of them belonged to the various artisanal branches, 13 percent to trade, transport, and innkeeping, and 18 percent to various forms of agriculture. Moreover, the urban artisanal sector displayed strong economic and technological dynamism, which is most clearly expressed in the increasing division of labor by specialization of occupations. At about 1500, 340 individual occupations existed in Frankfurt, most of them in the crafts and trades. The medieval craft of the “smith”—to mention just one example—had split up into forty-five specific occupations.[28] The specialization of knowledge and skills, of tools and techniques, and altogether of workplaces was part and parcel of this development.

A particularly useful source of artisanal workplaces is—as already mentioned in the first paragraph of this chapter—Jost Amman’s Nuremberg Book of Trades from 1568. Amman shows a wide range of workshops not only as sites where production takes place, but also as spaces where raw materials and finished products are stored or presented, and where tools are kept, ideally in good order. Amman’s about one hundred woodcuts devoted to crafts and trades include very simple spaces with only a few furnishings and tools—for instance, a cobbler sitting on his stool with a shoe on his knees. Others are depicted as being more elaborately equipped—tailors’ workshops, for instance. Tailors used to do their needlework sitting at a large table next to the window. This workplace ensured the best supply of daylight, and the pieces of clothing in progress were protected against dust and dirt on the floor. Tailors’ workshops usually also contained another large table where clothes are cut (Figure 3.2). Weavers, in contrast, preferred cellars as cool and humid workplaces that made fibers flexible. Metalworkers such as a blacksmith or locksmith worked in forges, which were equipped with fireplace, bellow, and anvil, at which they worked standing upright, but there were also benches to sit on when polishing semifinished products with a file. But Amman’s woodcuts also show spaces of higher complexity including large machineries, such as oil-mills, where oil fruits were cleaned, mashed, and pressed. Some crafts required caloric energy; therefore, fireplaces or ovens were in the very center of their workplaces, such as bakers and most of the metal trades. Others made use of water power including all kinds of millers and paper makers, who had to situate their workplaces along waterways.

Figure 3.2. Jost Amman, Tailors’ workshop, Book of Trades, 1568. Public domain.

Whenever possible, Amman also paid attention to the various steps of the work processes. The potter is shown while working in his shop at the pottery wheel, but in the background the view opens to the preceding and to the following work stages: a worker in the clay pit, producing the raw material, and another one who is firing the burning kiln. Indeed, both workplaces were quite often rather distant from the workshop. Suitable clay had to be extracted on the outskirts of a city or even further away, and as the potters’ kilns were a fire hazard, they were often relegated to remote corners or even outside of the city walls. In one craft, however, the wider workplace required so much space that it did not fit into the frame of Amman’s woodcut: rope makers needed lanes or trails up to several hundred meters long to twine threads into thicker and thicker ropes, which were required for offshore shipping. Hamburg’s ropers, for instance, decided in the early seventeenth century to leave their traditional quarter within the city walls due to lack of space and adapted new workplaces in a suburb, which later took its name from the workplace: the famous “Reeperbahn” (rope makers’ trail).

Tanners are another good example to illustrate the complexity of some sixteenth-century artisanal workplaces (Figure 3.3).Tanners in towns such as Nuremberg, Strasbourg, and Colmar owned multilevel houses, built right next to each other, between a street at the front and a body of running water—be it a river or a canal—to the rear. As the processing of animal hides with all their residual waste products emits a terrible stench, tanners’ lanes were usually situated in remote corners of the cities. All these arrangements reflect the complex multilevel work process of tanning. The first step consisted in the preparation of hides after they had been bought on the market or directly from the butcher, and was performed in the so-called “water workshop” at the rear of the houses. The hides were washed and rinsed several times and subsequently scraped to remove all residual meat, fat, and hairs. This work was done standing in the running water, which washed away all the waste. The next step consisted in pushing the hides into tanning pits filled with fresh water and tanbark, where they remained between six months and three years, depending on the quality of the hides and of the intended leather. When the actual tanning process was completed, the hides were brought back to the water workshop for rinsing. After letting them drip off, they were carried into the upper storeys of the tanner’s house, which contained special drying rooms providing permanent air circulation. Finally, the dry final product, the leather, was moved into another workshop within the tanner’s house, where it was polished, cut, and folded.

Figure 3.3. Jost Amman, Tanners working in the water workshop, Book of Trades, 1568. Public domain.

Tanning was a complex and capital-intensive craft; thus, master tanners usually were among the wealthier artisans. As a rule, they owned the houses which included their workshops and households as well. There is increasing evidence throughout Europe, however, of spatial separation of workshop and dwelling among urban artisans, as well as of various forms of spatial combinations. The Florentine census of 1427 reveals that no more than 26 percent of master artisans had their workplace and dwelling in the same building, with the “bottega” at ground level and the family home on an upper level. This combination of working and living spaces diminished to 18 percent in 1480. Throughout the century, bakers and wine taverners practiced such an arrangement more often than masters of other crafts and trades, and most of them also owned these houses.[29] But in small Swedish towns, too, in the seventeenth century, artisanal workplaces and family homes were more often separated than has previously been assumed.[30]

Jost Amman’s woodcuts provide an idealized but nevertheless detailed view of sixteenth-century artisanal workplaces. Though his interest focused on the master artisan—the male skilled workmen and guild member, who operated as employer or self-employed—in some cases his perspectives extend further to include depictions of the interactions and cooperation between small workgroups, and sometimes even auxiliary workers too: the needle maker is accompanied by a young woman who sticks the ready-made needles and pins into pieces of paper to allow it to be stored, transported, and sold. In the workshop of the paper maker we see a young boy who carries a stack of sheets. Such images may be topical attributions to particular crafts, or stereotypes. Nevertheless, they remind us to remain cognizant of the fluid borders between household and workshop. The women in the needle maker’s workshop might be his wife, or his daughter, or a maid. The boy helping the paper maker could easily be his son, or an apprentice, or just a poor boy from down the street who occasionally earns a little money doing menial tasks. Natalie Zemon Davis, in her dense description of “Women in the Crafts in Sixteenth-century Lyon,” shows how often and to what extent all family members participated in the master artisan’s work, thus emphasizing that connection between household and workplace.[31] And she also demonstrates how often women were the principal workers in crafts and trades, running their own shops. Such female activities and positions were certainly beyond the scope of Amman’s meritorious book, as it was dedicated to the “ranks” of society in that day and age—that is, to a male order.

Workplaces in Large Enterprises

From the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, various forms of large enterprises came into existence. These include, among others, charitable institutions which attempted to create workplaces for orphans, foundlings, or widows. In Venice, for instance, by about 1600 a considerable part of the city’s lace production stemmed from such institutions. In the private sector, the printing industry was one of the booming urban trades from the late fifteenth to the seventeenth century. Since Gutenberg’s technological revolution in the 1440s, printing with movable type, the printing industry spread throughout Europe. Among these workplaces were small, family-based workshops but, particularly in economically booming urban centers such as Seville, Antwerp, Lyon, Paris, Venice, Basel, and Nuremberg, there emerged large printing houses which employed several dozen workers—the largest of them, such as the Plantin–Moretus workshop in Antwerp, even more (Figure 3.4). Their workplaces were characterized by an elaborate division of labor as well as by cooperation among crews of skilled workmen: type founders, compositors, correctors or readers, and pressmen. The challenge for business owners was to establish an optimal number and ratio of these crews to each other in order to achieve a continuous production process.[32]

Figure 3.4. Jan Collaert after Jan van der Straet (Johannes Stradanus), Printers at work, Impressio librorum, c. 1590. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public domain.

The mining industry is a further example of a booming economic sector in central Europe in the sixteenth century, particularly mining the ore of precious metals such as silver and copper in the central European Alps. At Falkenstein near Schwaz (Tyrol) in the early sixteenth century, about ten thousand miners worked in almost three hundred shafts. Another large Tyrolian mine was the Holy Ghost Shaft at Röhrer Bühel (Rerobichel) near Kitzbühel, where in the 1530s rich veins of silver ore were discovered and subsequently attracted the most important investors such as the Fuggers. By about 1600, up to two thousand miners were employed, and the shafts were as deep as 886 meters, which made it by far the deepest mine in early modern Europe. The complexity of the labor process in silver mining meant that only one out of eight workers was occupied with breaking ore below the surface. This was the skilled hewer, who used hammer and chisel while standing upright, kneeling, or sitting on a slanted wooden bench for hammering at the ceiling (Figure 3.5). When shafts were extended, carpenters went down and braced them with timber beams. Unskilled laborers were used for transporting the ore with small lorries on wooden rails in horizontal shafts or galleries, and for winching the ore from one horizontal level to the next and finally to the surface. On the ground, ores were rinsed and sorted and separated from dead rocks, and then transported to melting huts, all of which was usually done by women (Figure 3.6).[33] Melting and forging was then the task of skilled metalworkers. And important groups of workmen had to take care of the water supply management and disposal. Such workplaces represented “high-tech mining districts,”[34] which used complicated systems of machines and complex pipe systems to create effective mine-draining infrastructure.

Figure 3.5. Georgius Agricola, Miners working in three shafts, De re metallica, 1556. Public domain.
Figure 3.6. Georgius Agricola, Women shaking the sieve, De re metallica, 1556. Public domain.

Other forms of large enterprises in the sixteenth century were state-run naval dockyards. Shipyards constituted complex workplaces in which a wide range of raw materials or semi-finished products were processed by workmen of different occupations. In Europe at that time, shipbuilding was still mainly organized in a huge number of small private shipyards. As the global maritime trade and naval warfare became more important for European powers during the sixteenth century, governments became increasingly interested in the establishment of a standing navy and of state-run docks in which ships were built, based, or overhauled. In England, for instance, there was considerable growth in large-scale shipbuilding between about 1540 and 1640, in which royal dockyards played a major role, surpassing private docks in size, output, and complexity of organization of production. In Stuart England, they represented perhaps the country’s “largest industry.”[35]

Venice, however, had an even longer tradition of state-controlled shipbuilding, and in the sixteenth century its Arsenale constituted by far the largest and most productive and complex industrial site in this branch of production—and a very peculiar workplace. Foreign visitors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries praised the arsenal as a “Factory of Marvels” or as “the eighth miracle of the world.”[36] Founded by the Venetian state in the thirteenth century at the latest as a state-run shipyard, it expanded continuously up to the late sixteenth century in both size and function. From the 1470s it consisted of three large basins, surrounded by dry and wet docks and by regular series of sheds. In each of these sheds two ships could be built at the same time. The docks and sheds were accompanied by other buildings used as storage sites or workshops for a wider range of activities. In the 1570s some particularly large buildings were added: the “corderie,” a rope factory hall 315 meters in length and 21 meters wide, whose roof construction was supported by two rows of massive columns; and the “gaggiandre,” two huge covered wet docks for the construction of especially large ships. While most shipbuilding in Europe in this period took place in the open air, the covered docks of the Venetian arsenal made workplaces less vulnerable to bad weather conditions (Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7. Jacopo de Barbari, The Venice arsenal, Veduta di Venezia, 1500. Detail: Arsenale, Museo Correr, Venice.

In the sixteenth-century boom period, the Venetian arsenal was a multifunctional institution. Its main function was the building, outfitting, and repairing of merchant and naval vessels, which was performed by three occupational groups, each of them organized in a specific guild. The shipwrights constructed the keel, the frame, and the ribbing of the ships; the caulkers were responsible for finishing the hull, adding the cabins, and for caulking; and the oar makers produced the large number of oars required for propelling galleys, the dominant Venetian ship type. The “masters” of these three groups and their apprentices, and a few smaller occupations such as mast makers, pulley makers, and woodcarvers, made up about 75 percent of the entire workforce. In addition, the arsenal was also a site for manufacturing arms and gunpowder and for the storage of weapons—in the sixteenth century mainly cannons and bullets—and it included a storehouse for hemp and a rope factory. And the workforce included hundreds of porters, bricklayers, blacksmiths, sawyers, and many others—altogether in the boom period of the 1540s and 50s perhaps four to five thousand men. They were accompanied by about two or three dozen seamstresses making sails, controlled by a “mistress of the sail room.”[37] In the eyes of contemporary visitors and later historians this was “the biggest industrial establishment in all Christendom, perhaps the biggest of the world.”[38] As most of the workers lived nearby, the Arsenale and the neighboring residential district formed a distinct city quarter of Venice.

During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the arsenal appeared, some historians assume, as a “massive agglomeration of semi-independent workshops” rather than a centralized enterprise.[39] However, over the centuries there also developed, without any explicit plan, an organization of production which displayed, in the sixteenth century, some similarities to the “assembly lines” of the industrial age.[40] There were several peculiarities of the arsenal as a workplace. The first had to do with the concentration of all raw materials and the production of all the equipment, including weapons and munitions, in the same place. This made it possible to have a hundred or more galleys under construction at the same time, although at different stages of production and finishing. Therefore, all the workmen who were specialized in one particular step or stage were continuously participating in the production process. Contemporary visitors praised this system for its efficiency, and some sources indeed give impressive production figures. One hundred fully armed galleys are said to have left the arsenal “in less than two months” in 1571 before the naval Battle of Lepanto.[41] However, this might have been almost-finished vessels left in storage until needed. Nevertheless, the arsenal was equipped and prepared for mass production. This included the concentration on one particular type of vessel, the light galley, and the standardization of components such as masts, spars, benches, deck fixings, oars, and others. Moreover, the new large docks built in the mid-1500s allowed for an accelerated production process:

as the galley neared completion, it moved down a kind of assembly line. Hulls were constructed in the New Arsenal or Newest Arsenal. They were then brought into the Old Arsenal where they moved past a series of warehouses’ where they were outfitted with cordage, arms, and everything else that was required. The different parts of the arsenal “were located in a pattern that on the whole facilitated this assemblage”.[42]

However, all these images of a “modern” industrial workplace must not be exaggerated. Labor relations and working conditions displayed many characteristics more typical of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries than of later historical periods. By the early 1500s, being enrolled included the privilege of getting paid to work there whenever one wanted, and even old and sick workers unable to perform any activity received a daily pay when they managed to at least show up in the morning. A permanent problem the management faced was getting workers to spend the whole day at the worksite. Moreover, arsenal workers might choose to work in one of the small private docks, which still existed in Venice. They constituted a “fluid workforce accustomed to move freely” from workplace to workplace.[43]

Working and Living: Fluid Borders or Separate Spheres?

The spatial separation of working and living, of the workplace and the private sphere of family and home, has become self-evident in modern societies, even if there are also multifold entanglements in these societies. Can we speak, with regard to early modern Europe, of the workplace as a distinct place or a separate sphere apart from other dimensions of life? If we consider the predominant, prescriptive discourses of the time, at first glance the answer seems to be “no.” From the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, political and economic thought was dominated by the concept of the “house” as a basic unit of society and economy, in which living and working were closely interconnected and inseparably combined. These ideas stemmed from classical Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Xenophon, and were revived in the Renaissance and particularly in the period of humanism. They attained popularity in most European countries during the sixteenth century, when they were widely disseminated by “domestic conduct books” of various kinds. Owners of large farms or small rural manors were a particularly important target group, receiving guidance not only on practical issues of agriculture and the family economy, but also on various aspects of private life, on the principles of a well-ordered house, and on financially successful estate management.

We find comparable ideas of unity of work and life in early-sixteenth-century urban communities. A well-documented example is Augsburg, a southern German city with about thirty thousand inhabitants, booming artisanal production, a financial industry of global importance, and which was thus a major economic center of the time. The predominant vision of moral and social order, as expressed in discipline ordinances as well as in everyday policies of the city council, was based on the ideal of the “household workshop,” as Lyndal Roper called it. The very center of this unit was the married couple of master and wife, who were expected to “work faithfully with each other” to secure their “sustenance,” as it was phrased in the sources. This vision bridged “the divide between labour within the workshop and what we might term housework—the labour of cooking, cleaning, and caring for a workshop labour force.”[44]

Reality, however, was much more complex, as the previous paragraphs of this chapter have shown, and strongly influenced by social position. An entanglement of household and workplace was particularly pronounced in the middling ranks of society, in family farming or in the households of small-scale merchants and master artisans—wherever a family mode of production persisted. But also in these cases borders were drawn. Lyndal Roper’s study on Reformation Augsburg identified a second meaning of “work” restricted to occupational activities and gainful employment, which accentuated the difference between the sexes. Throughout the sixteenth century there were repeatedly struggles in Augsburg—as in many other European industrial centers of the time—by guilds and journeymen brotherhoods to prohibit the occupational activities of masters’ wives or daughters or of female servants, thus banishing them from the workplace proper. And the custom that boarding apprentices were expected not only to work and to learn their trade, but also to perform household chores in their master’s home became contested from the sixteenth century onwards.[45]

Families of the laboring poor showed a particularly clear separation of workplace and household.[46] As the only marginally stratified medieval peasantry became differentiated by an increasing number of land-poor and landless households, a new housing type spread across western and central Europe: the cottage. Cottagers had to work for wages at various and rapidly changing workplaces outside their homes. This experience was shared by large numbers of the laboring poor in towns, who had no house at all, however tiny, but instead rented a cheap chamber in a slum area or in a suburb, and worked wherever they found a job, usually short-term employment. Skilled workers experienced a clear separation of workplace and home when they were employed in large enterprises—for instance, in the building trades, in shipyards, in mining, and in the printing industry. And there was an increasing number of jobs—due to intensification of trade and transport, and new forms of warfare—which necessitated leaving one’s home for longer time spans, such as with sailors or mercenaries, itinerant peddlers, and seasonal laborers in agriculture.

Also in the upper ranks of society, there emerged a trend towards spatial separation of work activities, which had quite a different character. If we start at the very top of the social ladder, we find the dissociation of government administration from the households of the ruling princes, most clearly expressed in Florence by the construction of the “Uffizi” in 1559 to 1581 as a special office building. A kind of separate office space also became fashionable in private upper-class houses. In Leon Battista Alberti’s four Books on the Family (I libri della famiglia), written in Florence in the years 1432 to 1441, it is said that the paterfamilias, as the head of the house, should occupy a chamber of his own, the study (“studiolo”), where he keeps all relevant business and family records, valuables, and money as well as his library. In the houses of noblemen and rich merchants, as well as affluent intellectuals, the study was not only a privileged workplace but also a separate space for intellectual pleasures. Machiavelli, in a letter dated December 1513, describes the study of his country house in Sant’Andrea in Percussina, a few miles south of Florence, as a retreat to spend his evenings in virtual discourse with ancient poets and philosophers, after a day spent performing various tasks in managing his little estate.[47] When Sir Hamon Le Strange, a member of the English Parliament, justice of the peace and a wealthy member of the upper gentry, rebuilt and enlarged Hunstanton Hall, his Norfolk manor house, in the 1620s, it contained a study as his actual workplace.[48] In sharp contrast to them, scholars of more modest means, such as German schoolmasters at about 1500, complained about being incessantly disturbed in their aspired working-“life of solitude” by wives, children, and servants running around.[49]

In addition, remarkable changes in working and housing spaces took place. Late medieval peasant houses throughout Europe used to consist of only one large room for humans and animals. During the fifteenth century in northern Italy, a new house type began to emerge in the better off peasantry, “with more rooms, on two floors instead of one. This new type reached France during the early sixteenth century, and England … by the last quarter of the century.”[50] This trend is best documented for England, where between 1570 and 1640 what William Hoskins called a “revolution in housing” or a “Great Rebuilding” took place. Rural houses became larger and more comfortable, and contained more and more specialized rooms: a kitchen for cooking, a buttery, a dairy, a separate bedroom for master and mistress, a chamber for servants, a parlor for dining and for leisure activities, and in the case of rural artisans, such as weavers, a separate workshop. Jane Whittle observed that in sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century England “well before productive work was commonly located away from the house, there was a trend of segregating working from nonworking areas within the home, particularly in middling and elite houses. However, this is qualified by the fact that women’s and servants’ work remained spread throughout the house.”[51] The English “housing revolution” was triggered by the “price revolution” of the sixteenth century, which provided larger agricultural producers—the bigger husbandmen, the yeomen, the gentry—with a substantial rise in income. But it also signalled the beginnings of a cultural change that placed greater value on privacy. This observation is perhaps even more accurate for the Dutch urban upper classes in the “Golden Age,” when cleanliness and homeliness became major cultural values, and when properly appreciated work within the home consisted of methodically performed housework including intensive scrubbing, scouring, or dusting.[52]

These trends towards segregation of work and life, of workplace and household, were counterbalanced, to some degree, by the spread of protoindustrial domestic production in a wide range of industrial branches, mainly in the countryside, but also in towns. Domestic production meant, for instance in the case of the textile industry, that spinners (usually women) and weavers (usually men) worked in their own homes, but in a supraregional market-oriented economic network organized and controlled by merchant capitalists. Often it was based on the cooperation of several family members, including children. All in all, sixteenth-century Europe was characterized by the coexistence of unity of work and life on the one hand, and segregation of the workplace on the other, and by a wide range of transitional forms.

Combination of Workplaces, Indoor and Outdoor

The strong emphasis on the “house” in sixteenth-century European discourse coexisted with the fact that most people worked predominantly or at least partially outdoors. Workplaces located in open-air settings displayed a particularly strong influence of weather and climate on the work process, resulting in irregular and discontinuous rhythms of work during the year or the day. They entailed specific hardships and health risks due to exposure of workers to extreme heat or cold, moisture and precipitation, or dust. But also, indoor workplaces had their specific problems. Late medieval houses with very small and unglazed windows, with one fireplace only and without a chimney, and without separated workrooms, were dark, cold, full of smoke, dust, and dirt. The advancement in housing in the sixteenth century improved not only living conditions but also workplaces, due to larger and more often glazed windows, chimneys, candles, or separation of storage spaces. Nevertheless, most artisans preferred to work outside their houses when the character of their activities and the weather made it possible, and enjoyed fresh air, daylight, and the conversation with diverse people strolling by.

Working inside or outside the house was also related to gender roles. Normative writings such as sixteenth-century “domestic conduct books” and particularly Protestant reformers’ treatises on Christian matrimony were quite clear in that respect. “Whatever is to be done without the house, that belongeth to the man, and the women to study for thinges within to be done,” wrote the Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger in his book Der christliche Ehestand published in Antwerp in 1541 and translated into English in 1575 as The Christian State of Matrimonye.[53] Even if these were hegemonic cultural values, in practice the bond of women’s work to domestic locations was weak and not necessarily stronger than that of men.[54] First, the “house” had a rather symbolic meaning in these normative texts, including wider spaces for the family economy, be they the fields or gardens of farmers or the workshops or market stalls of artisans. Second, in the early modern period, outdoor work quite often had lower prestige than indoor work. Therefore, it was often practiced by men of low social status or by women and included, for instance, carrying heavy loads. In the salt mines of the Austrian Alps, as in Hallstatt, male miners worked in shafts beneath the surface, while one of the female labors was to carry on their backs large blocks of salt several hundred meters down from the portals to the village. When in the Black Forest of southwestern Germany an explosive growth of worsted weaving began in the 1580s as rural protoindustrial domestic manufacturing, the male weavers, skilled workmen organized in guilds, operated their looms at home, while their wives and daughters and female servants carried the raw materials from and the finished textiles to the export merchants in the next town. In addition, these women took care of the small agricultural holdings that were usually affiliated with the weavers’ households.[55]

The relevance of outdoor work is enhanced by the fact that most working men and women had to combine several workplaces in order to perform their tasks. This applies not only to most forms of agricultural work, particularly to small family farms, and even more so to peasants or smallholders who combined agriculture with crafts and trades, but also to urban artisans whose work ranged from the extraction of raw materials to selling finished products at markets. Outdoor work certainly predominated in all historical periods before the Industrial Revolution. Some changes, however, can be identified during the long sixteenth century, albeit not in the same direction. Urbanization, the rise of urban crafts and protofactories, and the spread of rural domestic industries account for an expansion of indoor workplaces. The rise of the building trades as an upshot of urbanization, the intensification of transregional traffic and transportation, and generally high and growing geographical mobility contributed to the spread of outdoor workplaces. It is not clear which of these two opposing trends was of greater importance in the period under observation, or whether they remained in balance.


In sum, the diversity and variety of workplaces in the “long” sixteenth century certainly increased. Within this process, however, two opposing trends interacted: on one hand, there was a trend towards division of labor and professionalization, which means differentiation and specialization of workplaces; on the other hand, many of these specialized workplaces were not isolated from each other, but closely linked in different ways—as parts of production lines in single large enterprises, or in commodity chains connecting several businesses. In social terms, one observes an increasing combination of several workplaces by individual men and women of lower classes due to their need to earn an income from various sources during their daily, weekly, or seasonal work and during their life course.

Looking at sixteenth-century workplaces in a long-term historical perspective also yields ambivalent results. Some types of workplaces that emerged during the “long” sixteenth century continued to exist well into the onset of the industrial age at least—for example, most of the new, specialized crafts or agricultural branches. Others, however, disappeared or declined in importance. This fate was shared by most of the huge silver mines, but also by large state-run enterprises such as the highly admired arsenal in Venice where, beginning in the seventeenth century, the importation of ships overtook local production due to a regional timber shortage and, more generally, due to the declining economic and political position of Venice in the global economy. It turned out that the most modern-appearing workplaces in large enterprises were the ones whose future was regionally and temporally limited, whereas specialized workplaces in small-scale production were more likely to remain in existence.

[1] On the subject of contested perceptions and evaluations of work at the time, see Chapter Seven in this volume.

[2] John Desmond Bernal, Sozialgeschichte der Wissenschaften: Science in History , vol. 2 (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1970), 356, 362–3, 384 .

[3] Luca Mocarelli, “Attitudes to Work and Commerce in the Late Italian Renaissance: A Comparison between Tomaso Garzoni’s La Piazza Universale and Leonardo Fioravanti’s Dello Specchio Di Scienta Universale,” International Review of Social History 56, no. S19 (2011): 89–106, here 91 .

[4] Important examples are Georgius Agricola, De re metallica (Basel, 1556); Vannoccio Biringuccio, De la Pirotechnia (Venice, 1549); Jacques Besson, Theatrum instrumentarum et machinarum (Lyon, 1578). For this genre in general, see Marcus Popplow, Neu, nützlich und erfindungsreich: Die Idealisierung von Technik in der frühen Neuzeit (Münster: Waxmann, 1998), esp. 65–97 . See also Chapter Five in this volume.

[5] Important examples are Anthony Fitzherbert, The Book of Husbandry (London, 1523); Charles Estienne, Agriculture et Maison rustique (Paris, 1554); Johannes Coler, Oeconomia ruralis et domestica (Mainz, 1595–9). See Stefan Brakensiek, “Landwirtschaftskunde ” in Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit , vol. 7 (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2008 ) .

[6] This claim made him, in the eyes of generations of cultural historians, a prototype of the “Renaissance man.” See Jacob Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860; repr., Stuttgart: Kröner Verlag, 1985), 97 ; Bernal, Sozialgeschichte der Wissenschaften, 366. For a critical view, see Anthony Grafton, Leon Battista Alberti: Master Builder of the Renaissance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002) .

[7] Reinhold Reith, “Praxis der Arbeit. Überlegungen zur Rekonstruktion von Arbeitsprozessen in der handwerklichen Produktion,” in Praxis der Arbeit: Probleme und Perspektiven der handwerksgeschichtlichen Forschung , ed. Reinhold Reith (Frankfurt/Main: Campus Verlag, 1998), 18 . See Chapter Two in this volume. See also Gerhard Jaritz, “The Visual Representation of Late Medieval Work: Patterns of Context, People and Action,” in The Idea of Work in Europe from Antiquity to Modern Times , eds. Josef Ehmer and Catharina Lis (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009 ) .

[8] See Wolfgang Lefèvre, Picturing the World of Mining in the Renaissance: The Schwazer Bergbuch (1556) (Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Preprint 407, 2010) .

[9] This is particularly important for eastern and northern parts of Europe, where towns were dominated by less durable wooden structures. See Dag Lindström and Göran Tagesson, “On Spatializing History—The Household as Spatial Unit in Early Modern Swedish Towns,” META Historiskarkeologisk tidskrift (2015).

[10] For a paradigmatic example, see Sheilagh Ogilvie, A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) .

[11] See Gadi Algazi, “Food for Thought. Hieronymus Wolf grapples with the scholarly habitus,” in Egodocuments in history: Autobiographical Writing in its Social Context since the Middle Ages , ed. Rudolf Dekker (Hilversum: Verloren, 2003 ) , which offers a convincing strategy to look behind the construction of a “scholarly habitus” in autobiographical writings.

[12] This is particularly true for Marxist scholars with emphasis on the development of “productive forces” (“Produktivkräfte”). See Bernal, Sozialgeschichte der Wissenschaften; Wolfgang Jonas, Valentine Linsbauer, and Helga Marx, Die Produktivkräfte in der Geschichte , vol. 1 (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1969) .

[13] See Edwin Ernest Rich and Charles Henry Wilson, eds., The Economic Organization of Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977) .

[14] See Reith, Praxis der Arbeit.

[15] See Gregory Hanlon, Human Nature in Rural Tuscany: An Early Modern History (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) .

[16] Natalie Zemon Davis, “Women in the Crafts in Sixteenth-Century Lyon,” Feminist Studies 8, no. 1 (1982): 46–80 .

[17] Christopher Hill, Reformation to Industrial Revolution (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1969), 61 .

[18] Michel de Montaigne, The Journal of Montaigne’s Travels in Italy by Way of Switzerland and Germany in 1580 and 1581 , trans. and ed. William George Waters, vol. 2 (London: John Murray, 1903), 133 .

[19] Hanlon, Human Nature in Rural Tuscany, 53.

[20] Ibid., 57.

[21] Quoted from Jan de Vries, The Dutch Rural Economy in the Golden Age, 1500–1700 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974), 34 .

[22] Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (London: Fontana Press, 1991), 48–9 .

[23] Jan Bieleman, Five Centuries of Farming: A Short History of Dutch Agriculture 1500–2000 (Wageningen: Academic Publishers, 2010), 43 .

[24] Jan Bieleman, “Dutch Agriculture in the Golden Age,” in The Dutch Economy in the Golden Age: Nine Studies , eds. Karel Davids and Leo Noordegraaf (Amsterdam: Nederlandsch Economisch-Historisch Archief, 1993), 164–70 .

[25] De Vries, The Dutch Rural Economy, 68, 72.

[26] Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Die Bauern des Languedoc (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1990), 69, 75. (Les Paysans de Languedoc, Paris: Flammarion, 1969) .

[27] Ibid., 78–82.

[28] Karl Bücher, Die Bevölkerung von Frankfurt am Main im XIV. und XV. Jahrhundert (Tübingen: H. Laupp, 1886), 340 .

[29] Maria Luisa Bianchi and Maria Letizia Grossi, “Botteghe, economia e spazio urbano,” in La grande storia dell’ Artigianato. Vol. II: Il Quattrocento , eds. Franco Franceschi and Gloria Fossi (Florence: Giunti, 1999), 34 .

[30] See Lindström and Tagesson, “On Spatializing History.”

[31] Davis, “Women in the Crafts”. For a deeper discussion, see the section in this chapter “Working and Living: Fluid Borders or Separate Spheres.”

[32] See Michael Clapham, “Printing,” in A History of Technology , vol. III, eds. Charles Singer, et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 386–90 ; Jan Materné, “Social Emancipation in European Printing Workshops before the Industrial Revolution,” in The Workplace before the Factory. Artisans and Proletarians, 1500–1800 , eds. Thomas Max Safley and Leonard N. Rosenband (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 204–24 .

[33] Christina Vanja, “Mining Women in Early Modern European Society,” in ibid., 100–17; Susan C. Karant-Nunn, “From Adventurers to Drones: The Saxon Silver Miners as an Early Proletariat,” in ibid., 79.

[34] Lefèvre, Picturing the World of Mining, 11.

[35] Donald Cuthbert Coleman, “Naval Dockyards under the Later Stuarts,” Economic History Review 6, no. 2 (1953): 155 .

[36] Robert Charles Davis, Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal: Workers and Workplace in the Preindustrial City (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 3 .

[37] Ibid., 199.

[38] Frederic Chapin Lane, Venice. A Maritime Republic (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 362 .

[39] Davis, Shipbuilders, 180.

[40] Lane, Venice, 363.

[41] Davis, Shipbuilders, 80.

[42] Lane, Venice, 363.

[43] Davis, Shipbuilders, 11, 20.

[44] Lyndal Roper, The Holy Household: Women and Morals in Reformation Augsburg (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 40–1 .

[45] Ibid.; Bert De Munck, “From Brotherhood Community to Civil Society? Apprentices between Guild, Household and the Freedom of Contract in Early Modern Antwerp,” Social History 35, no. 1 (2010): 14–6 .

[46] See Valentin Groebner, Ökonomie ohne Haus Working and living: Fluid borders or separate spheres Zum Wirtschaften armer Leute in Nürnberg am Ende des 15. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993) .

[47] Quoted in Friederike Hausmann, Machiavelli und Florenz Working and living: Fluid borders or separate spheres Eine Welt in Briefen (Munich: dtv, 2001), 84–6 .

[48] Jane Whittle, “The House as a Place of Work in Early Modern Rural England,” Home Cultures 8, no. 2 (2011): 141 .

[49] Algazi, “Food for Thought,” 37.

[50] William George Hoskins, “The Rebuilding of Rural England, 1570–1640,” Past and Present 4 (1953): 54 .

[51] Whittle, “The House as a Place of Work,” 134.

[52] Schama, Embarrassment of Riches, 376 ff.

[53] Quoted by Whittle, “The House as a Place of Work,” 137.

[54] Ogilvie, Bitter Living, 148. However, the sexual division of labor, particularly in agriculture, varied enormously across European regions (119).

[55] See ibid., 119, 147, 225, 283, although her empirical evidence concerns mainly the period 1646–1800.