What were guilds?• Guilds were Important components of cities in Medieval times.• They were large, organized groups of people who shared a common interest.• They were created to control the economy of a market and protect the rights of the people in them, similar to a labor union or an organization such as OPEC
Types of guilds• There were two common types of Guilds:• Merchant guilds- offered protection for the horses, wagons, and equipment of the traveling merchant. When a merchant had created a large enough trading post, the guild would support the charter to help it become a town.• Craft Guilds- Group of craftsmen who joined together to protect the market of their product. The guild maintained a monopoly for that product in that town to protect the particular craft against other towns or foreigners.
Guild Services• Regulated the price of a product within a city.• Price cutting and ‘sales’ were very much forbidden.• Prevented the work of a foreign artisan to be sold to protect the monopoly.• Looked over the moral standards of the members. Anybody found being drunk or disorderly would be severely punished and have the potential to be thrown from the guild.• Took care of the families of deceased guild members: paid for a funeral and helped clear the debts of the deceased.• Made donations of their craft to the local chapel or cathedral.
Hierarchy• To become a guild member was a very long and tedious process. Members were committed to their craft. Craftsmen would begin learning to work at a very young age for no pay for many years before even being allowed to work for a wage. A member started out as an apprentice as a young boy, then became a journeyman, and finally a master of the guild.
The apprentice• A boy became the apprentice of a master of the guild at approximately age 12• The apprentice lived in the attic of a master’s home, which was usually located above the shop.• While in an apprenticeship, they were not allowed to marry.• The apprentice also could not make a wage.• The process could take anywhere from 2 to 7 years, depending on what trade was being learned.• By the standards of the guild, the master was required to teach his pupil to the best of his ability.
The journeymen• Once the apprentice completed his training, he could become a journeymen and begin working for his master for a wage.• He could now marry and begin building his own life and purchase property.• The journeymen would make his craft for the master, and if it was up to the master’s standards, the master would put his maker’s mark on it. If not, the craft could be destroyed without a second thought. The master would never allow shoddy work to wear his name.
Da Masta• To progress to the rank of master, a journeyman would have to produce his masterpiece.• The masterpiece would have to be a work of art and display absolute perfection in his craft.• This was difficult to do, because the masterpiece would have to be produced on the journeymen’s own time, with his own tools and materials. Not exactly easy to do when you work from sun up to sun down for a small wage…• The masterpiece would be inspected by a board of existing masters of the guild. If the product was perfect, then the masters would allow the journeyman to advance.• Once a master, the individual was among the elite of the trade, be an influence in guild decisions, be a revered figure in their craft, start their own shop with workers beneath them, and take up an apprentice.