In the late Middle Ages, rural farmers worked in the service of their loan lords. They were bound to their country and were mostly horticultulates or serfs. Both horigen and serfs had to provide services for their landlords and give up part of their harvest. But in this time of history, you could also be serfs. A serf was not allowed to own. They were actually a kind of slave to the landlord. But slaves weren't allowed to have a family. Serfs were allowed to.
Horigen had rights. There weren't many of them, but they were allowed to decide for themselves which products they were growing. Over time, they gained more and more rights. There came a time when they could make money. By saving up this money, the horige could buy his freedom.
If he was a free man, he could choose to go to town. In the cities, people were really free. The countryside was still ruled by a count or a duke. The cities often had their own governance. This medieval city government is called the magistrate. They also had their own tax system. From this the city council built squares and bridges. They also often built a city wall to keep out hostile peoples. But for this freedom, the city had to pay taxes to the Count or Duke. Also, the gentleman often employed someone in the city who supervised the townspeople. This was often a schout or baljuw. As the cities grew, mr. received other income after his income from a state of emergency. This meant that he was less and less dependent on the services of the horigen. He was therefore able to grant more and more rights to the horigen. So in this period there were more and more farmers who bought themselves freely.
When a horige went to live in the city they often had to learn a new craft. This was only possible if he joined a guild. This was some kind of association. History has, for example, a pottery guild, a weaver's guild, a carpenter's guild or a butcher's guild. So each craft had its own guild. Within this guild you were trained and cared for if, for example, you became incapacitated. It also often arranged the funeral of guild members and his family. Within the guilds there were strict requirements. Only boys and men could join. They had to pay dues. The young boys taught a master of the guild. Only when it was deemed good enough did the boy become a journeyman. From the moment the boy was a journeyman, he got paid for his work. At the end of his teaching period, the companion did a master's. Only when he had succeeded he was allowed to start his own business. Also in his company he had to abide by the rules of the guild. For example, price agreements were made and the company was regularly checked to see if they were in order.
Only Christians were allowed to join a guild. But in the era of the cities and states there were also Jews in the city. Because they were excluded from the participation of a guild, they often started to trade in money.