Serfs were farmers who paid taxes in agricultural produce and subsisted on the remainder. As I understand it, they (unlike freeholders) did not sell their produce or manufactured goods for personal income, so they wouldn’t have been able to buy things with currency. How, then, did they obtain the iron implements they needed for their work and survival? Did they just petition their lord for whatever they needed?
Edit: I’ve researched the definitions of terms such as freeholders/franklins, villeins, serfs, cottars, and bordars. I know the issue is a little complicated, because the Middle Ages was a long period, and definitions and roles changed over time and varied across countries. Much of that research has stemmed from reading the Domesday Book and seeing unfamiliar terms in it. I’ve gotten some additional context from reading works such as the Canterbury Tales, The Pillars of the Earth, and Tain Bo Cuailnge.
My research led me to understand that freeholders could sell their produce for monetary income; whereas serfs owed their lords labor, were required to pay a tax of food to him and the Church, did not technically own personal property, did not have the freedom to travel, did not have personal rights beyond the permissions granted to them by their lord, and did not receive monetary income for their work. My impression was that a serf’s produce was his lord’s to sell at market, rather than his to sell for his own personal profit. Maybe I don’t have a clear understanding of the nature of ownership in the serf-lord relationship, and unintentionally made incorrect inferences.
Even if the context I stated was incorrect, I believe the actual question remains valid: How did they obtain these goods?
I appreciate being corrected whenever any of my statements is wrong, because I came here for information, and those corrections increase my knowledge even beyond the scope of the question. I’m willing to rewrite the question in any way necessary. I’d just like to be told how I should restate my question to make it acceptable, rather than having it dismissed outright for being poorly structured.