Map of Saint-Denis's trades in the early modern period.

© UASD / Th. Sagory, M. Wyss

Mentions of repair work in the abbey's account books are our main source of information about crafts in the early modern year. Those from the period 1535-1536 concern the monastic buildings; they detail the construction materials purchased and list the merchants and craftspeople that performed the work: glaziers, plumbers, plasterers, woodworkers, painters, masons, laborers, and locksmiths. Most of these people lived in Saint-Denis. Others lived in Paris, including a potter, a nail-maker and a carpenter. A merchant selling "large" glass (window glass) came from Martagny, in Normandy.

Shopkeepers, craftspeople and tradepersons in their shops, after the 'Mirror of Princes' by Giles of Rome, early 16th century. © BNF / Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, ms. 5062, Rés. f° 149 v°.

Archaeology offers an incomplete vision of urban crafts during this period, a vision basically centered on worked bone. Four waste pits belonging to bead-makers' workshops have been discovered. Metalworking activity is attested to by the discovery of a bronze foundry, whose furnace was located about a hundred meters north of the basilica.