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Medieval Guilds Essay

1253 words - 5 pages

Guilds were created in the Middle Ages and were groups of people with a common interest in a certain trade. There were many different types of guilds varying from religious and social guilds to crafts and carpentry guilds. The main purposes of these guilds were to prevent individual businesses from controlling all of the business of a certain trade. This proved profitable for the smaller businesses. Individuals who refused to join the guild of their profession were forced to leave the town.Guilds also had their own specific coat of arms and badges for members. Craft guilds, comprised of bakers, goldsmiths, tailors, weavers, boatmen, and other craft workers, created rules to protect members of the guilds. Perhaps the most important of the above guilds were those of the boatmen, which were in the coastal port cities.The merchants¹ guilds created rules that set a standard on prices of their products. The members could not sell discounted items to people who were not members of the guild. They also set standards on the quality of their goods and agreed on wages for their workers. To become part of a guild, workers went through an initiation ceremony and other rites. These rites were known as collegia.Being a member of a guild had some advantages. Along with a membership, the workers received assistance from the guild when it was needed. The guild helped members with charity, funeral ceremonies, prayers for the dead, and provided other services for the members in their times of need. The guilds built halls and market places and helped with church and town projects. all of their crafts and creations were of great quality. If a member of the guild made an item of poor quality he was punished with fines. If he continued to make the crafts with the same quality he would be expelled from the guild.The craft workers who became very successful in their trade and who owned their own shops became the masters of the guild. Craft workers who did not fully master their trade, or did not run their own shops were the journeymen. The journeymen worked in the shops of the masters everyday and received pay from them. Young men who were learning certain trades became known as apprentices and received housing and meals from their master. After about two to seven years, an apprentice could become a journeyman. Journeymen who wanted to become masters had to show evidence of great skill. He also had to pass an examination or make a product in his craft. The product would then be judged by the other masters belonging to his guild. If the product was considered a masterpiece, the journeyman would become a master.Because it soon became more and more difficult for people to become masters, journeymen soon created their own associations. They separated from their masters because their needs were not being met and this angered the masters. The masters tried to fight back by "securing the passage of laws prohibiting them". They were defeated most of the time by the guilds,...

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