Originally Posted by DWFII
I don't know the details or specifics, but Master Saguto has said that historically, in point of fact, once journeyman status was reached, becoming a "master" was often more a case of owning a shop and having apprentices than of passing a test or going before a board of inquiry. Saguto has suggested that this was the case in both the US and Britain.
Well, the operative word in journeyman is journey. After some three or five years of apprenticeship and having past his examination of professional competence, a journeyman would travel and work in his field at a variety of workshops for shorter or longer periods. The underlying idea was that experiencing different workshops and the different ways and techniques they used would widen his horizons and help him to find his individual way within his chosen profession. To all intend and purposes a journeyman was a qualified professional but was not allowed to open his own workshop and train apprentices. Only a master could do that.
To become a master (usually after at least five years as a journeyman), he would apply for membership into the guild and proving his professional standards through the presentation of his 'masterpiece'. That would be a very elaborate piece of work demonstrating all the skills he had learned.
Mortality was pretty high in the Middle Ages or Early Modern period and frequently workshops, where the master had prematurely died, were run by the widow with the help of journeymen. The best thing that could happen to a penny-less journeyman was to get his feet not only under the workbench and the dining table, but into the widow's bed as well, hopefully marrying her and ending up with a wife and a nicely equipped workshop.
Here is a German folk song that demonstrates the importance given to the travelling and learning experience:
Mancher hinterm Ofen sitzt
und gar fein die Ohren spitzt,
kein' Stund' vors Haus ist kommen 'aus;
den soll man G'sell erkennen
oder gar als Meister nennen,
der noch nirgends ist gewest,
nur gesessen in sei'm Nest?Some sit behind the stove,
pricking up their ears,
no time away has ever come.
How can you recognize him as a foreman,
or even call him master,
if he has never been anywhere
just sitting in his nest?