Talk:Guild

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Difficulty following the main history[edit]

I am having a lot of difficulty following the main history section - it is very fragmentary - and jumps around from place to place and time period to time period - so that it is not always clear to me which place or year is being discussed.

This article makes many bold statements without putting them into any context such as by mentioning approximate dates. For example, the comments about guilds being instrumental in establishing the first universities suggests that guilds were extremely powerful by the 10th century. I have checked with the source cited which appears to be making an analogy between the universities and guilds by noting that the University of Bologna was effectively a guild of students. But this does not seem to be the same thing as saying that the guilds were pre-requisites for the creation of universities. I have done a little reading around this topic - and although the lack of documentary sources creates difficulties for precisely dating the emergence of guilds in Europe, most historians seem to suggest that guilds emerged in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries - period which coincided with the expansion of trade across Europe and into the East. Guilds became especially important in establishing the bona fides and credit worthiness of merchants who were trading in unknown territories. If these historical accounts are correct, it does undermine the argument that guilds helped to create universities.

Another issue is that the account has the Roman craft guilds disappearing in the early Middle Ages (5th century?), only to have them reappear before the 10th century. Seriously? Once again, most historical accounts seem to suggest that the Roman guilds did not survive the fall of the Roman Empire (1st or 2nd centuries).

Other problematic issues are that the account has an unsourced claim that some of the guilds in London are more than a thousand years' old (taking us back to the 10th century again). It also claims (unsourced) that guilds are the precursor to modern trade unions - which seems unusual since the guilds always represented the rights of masters - and even the few that allowed journeymen to enrol rarely permitted them to participate in guild affairs or governance. In addition, this statement seems to be at odds with the comments attributed to Karl Marx that are also included in the article. It seems like the artilce is trying to have a bet each way - but in the end - doesn't do justice to either position. To my way of thinking, it seems more likely that trade unions emerged as a means of representing employees and thus countering the dominance of the guilds.

It should also be noted that there were indeed many types of guild in the medieval period - craft guilds, merchant guilds, professional guilds and religious guilds. This article appears to be exclusively concerned with the first two types.

I think that the history section needs to be thoroughly overhauled with material drawn from superior sources, a strong organising framework (either chronological or regional) and a greater determination to interpret the sources accurately. BronHiggs (talk) 07:42, 24 June 2017 (UTC)


Here are few sources that may help to correct and expand this article:

  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Merchant Guilds Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).

.

Furthermore, the Le Chapelier Law of 1791 and similar liberal legislation throughout Europe at the time arguably led to a century of labor disorganization, and a power imbalance in industrial relations favoring capital, and resulting in perhaps a century of dismal working conditions of Oliver Twist (Dickens) and Les misérables (Hugo) fame. In France, only by the passing of the Waldeck-Rousseau Law (1884) was some power to organise returned to labour, concomitant to the establishment of other socially progressive institutions such as free, mandatory and secular primary education (Jules Ferry laws of 1881 and 1882). Further arguments can be made that the workmanship of goods, crafts, buildings, etc., during the time of the guilds was far superior to the shoddy quality and aesthetics of what followed - just consider who built the cathedrals versus what has generally been built since of similar proportions in Western Civilization.Lambda70 (talk) 08:05, 26 August 2017 (UTC)

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Were guilds really like trade unions?[edit]

One of the first sentences in this article says "They (i.e. the guilds) were organized in a manner somewhere between a professional association, a trade union, a cartel and a secret society". This might be a little misleading as I remember reading in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica many years ago that the guilds cannot really be seen as fore-runners of trade unions. Vorbee (talk) 16:49, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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