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In medieval and colonial times a blacksmith was a very important member of society. He used his anvil and hammer to create a variety of iron products that were used by just about everyone. The blacksmith's skills could be seen in every castle, home, stable, barn or building in the community.
Castle lords in the Middle Ages employed a blacksmith to work in their armory. The blacksmith manufactured and maintained the weapons and armor used by the castle's lords, knights and men at arms. He fabricated the swords, blades, arrowheads, lances and siege weapons used in battle as well as the daggers, knives and utensils the castle residents ate with every day. He hand-forged the knight's chain-mail, shields, breastplates, gauntlets and helmets and produced the intricate designs that decorated them. The blacksmith was also responsible for sharpening the castle's blades and repairing any damaged armor.
A village blacksmith manufactured items used by the peasants, serfs, slaves and freemen of the time. They forged many of the items that were necessary to run a household including cooking utensils, fire tongs, cauldrons, candle holders, iron housewears and eating utensils. They were also responsible for manufacturing the tools that were a necessary part of village life including carpenters' nails, spurs, spade tips and the blades for axes and sickles. Blacksmiths also made horseshoes and nails and created the axles and iron pieces used in horse-drawn carts.
A colonial blacksmith used his anvil, tongs and hammer to forge, pound and punch out many important items that were necessary for colonial households. In addition to fabricating the latches, nails and hinges that were necessary to build the homes, the blacksmith bent, welded and riveted cooking pots, kettles, ladles, fireplace racks and pothooks. He also used his skill to make decorative items for the home including wrought iron shelves, boot scrapers and candle holders.
Colonial blacksmiths also created the tools that village residents needed to work the land. They manufactured items like plows, spades, shovels, pitchforks, rakes and sickles. They made shoes for the villagers' horses and constructed the tires, hub rings and metal parts for their carriages, sleds and wagons. Blacksmiths were even found on whaling vessels and were responsible for making grappling hooks, harpoons and repairing the metal parts on the ship.
Michelle Cagle began writing in 1994 and has had articles published on various websites. She writes primarily about educational issues, society and cultural issues, and home and family issues. She received her Master of Education from Oklahoma State University and her Bachelor of Education from Northeastern State University.