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A time of peace and change

The forge is the future

By Peter RosePublished 10 months ago 6 min read

A time of peace, and change.

The forge stays hot.

It is now June in the year of our lord 1600. The crops are growing and the children are running about the strips, to chase away the crows and rooks. I am a blacksmith and if I make so bold, I am a good one, I have learnt the craft well and I am naturally inquisitive as to why things work and how to make things. Unlike most smiths I can also read and write, after a fashion. I spent a few years traveling with the army and learnt much about the making of weapons, before returning to our village and taking over the forge when my farther died. The skills of my trade mean that I have privileges other men lack, My Lord wanted a smith in his manor at all times and so my father’s passing caused him to track me down and order my return. The village was quite isolated in the past and this probably is why the black death did us little harm. Now the worst of this pestilence is passed, we can travel more, at our Lords command.

There are merchants who bring me the ingots of iron, smelted down at a place I have never seen, they call it Ashdown. Some even carried by boats from Sweden, when they can escape the wars which always engulf that nation. These merchants bring me iron and I trade for this with some of the things I craft from it. I have a great supply of charcoal and have become good at making the great iron hinges for the church doors, used in faraway places such as London and Winchester. The merchants are happy with this trade since my work is valued in these great cities. I can get 2 ingots of iron for 6 such hinges together with the nails I hammer into shape. These 6 hinges use up less than 1 ingot, but the merchants do not know this, and so I have the other one to make the horseshoes for my Lord and still have enough to make the plough sheers for the village and the iron rims for the cartwheels. So, I have a good living. I also make the fancy candle holders my Lord’s wife is so fond of, and she makes sure I get paid. I do not keep the silver coin, since it is too easy to steal. I buy more iron and pay, rather that trade for this, only another smith would steal iron and we have a code, one that comes with the skills, we do not steal from each other. While I have iron, my forge, and my strength; I can always make a living and trade for wealth if I need it.

The merchants also bring news from around the kingdom and so sometimes I am ahead of others in knowledge. Sometimes the news is hardly a month old by the time it reaches me, and so I manage to keep some track of whether we are at war with France or not. This matters because I have to make the sword blades, arrow heads and shield bosses, that are levied from each manor. I keep a few things hidden away, with a reserve of iron ingots, buried under the ash, close to the midden. By this means I always meet the manors quota, whenever it is demanded. This means my Lord relies on me to keep his good standing with his overlord.

The church priest can read but only in Latin, When the father of our good queen Bess, took over from the pope and threw out the bishops and layers of fat priests who leeched off the serfs and lords alike, our priest changed his mantle and welcomed Henry as both his religious and feudal lord. So, he kept his living, but not much seems to have changed in this parish. We all attend church twice on Sunday, the priest reads the offices of the day in Latin so not one of us knows if he is providing the old or the new, not that it makes any difference to us, since we have never been able to understand a word of it. My lord claims to read and write, but I know it is his wife who tends to such things. He prefers to hunt and joust, but he is a good lord to have over us. I have heard tales, when I was with the army, of other Lords who starved their manors to pay for fancy French plate armour.

Life goes on much as it always has, births and death, good harvests, and bad ones. Very little changes. The Lord, his wife, the priest, and I are the only people in the village who have ever been more than a few miles from it. Young men leave and march with the army, but I am the only one who has returned. From the age of 10 the boys start to train as archers, most struggle and so they stay to tend the land, but a few learn the methods and gain the strength to use the great war bow in the way that is feared by all our enemies. I hear the future is going to use smaller version of the great cannons that our ships fight with and that these smaller cannons will replace the archers, but that seems a long way ahead. I have tried to make smaller versions of the ship cannons, the ones that fire such broadsides as those that drove the Spanish armada away from our shores. I can cast and forge with the best, but I do not yet know how to get the bore of the barrel smooth and straight, I work on it and will get there if God grants me a long enough life.

I have two sons who, God willing, one day will take over my work but for now they pump the bellows, fetch the charcoal, and carry out the spent ash. Most importantly they watch and learn the craft, Their mother is dead, like so many, soon after the birth of the second boy. I hire a maid, youngest daughter of the carter who lives in the next village which is a good hours walk away, and she sees to our food and sweeps the floors occasionally. Sometimes my forge is cleaner than our home, but it matters not. The boys grow strong and willing to work in the dirt and smoke of the smithy. From each day to each next day, our way of life seems unchanging, but just as the seasons change, all things do change and whatever the future hold only God knows.


About the Creator

Peter Rose

Collections of "my" vocal essays with additions, are available as printed books ASIN 197680615 and 1980878536 also some fictional works and some e books available at Amazon;-



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