Medieval Guilds

Medieval Guilds

Medieval guilds were very important within medieval towns as they made attempts to guarantee craft standards within England.

Skilled craftsmen from the same trade could potentially group themselves into a guild, which would ensure any item made by a member of the guild was of the expected standard and sold for a reasonable price. Being a member of a guild was seen as a high ranking as it showed you were a talented worker and were respected in society.

A medieval baker with his apprentice. The Bodleian Library, Oxford
A medieval baker with his apprentice. The Bodleian Library, Oxford

Several guild members were picked to make sure other members were performing to standards - any members found to be cheating would be fined or required to work again at their own cost. The most severe punishment was to be expelled from a guild - this meant you could not trade in your town anymore.

Guilds would also look after their members if they were ill and helped the families of guild members who had died.

Guild apprentices could be hired from age 12 and were taught a trade by one of the guild members, who would expect payment from the boy’s parents. Apprentices would live with his master for up to 14 years, as the guild member had promised to ensure the boy was well taught which could take a long time. Apprentices were not allowed to get married or visit an inn during their training.

After an apprenticeship had finished, boys usually became journeymen. They would be paid and could start up their own business once enough money had been saved.

Only guild members could sell within a town as it was supposed to maintain quality standards. Yet anyone could sell their goods on market days regardless of whether or not they were skilled. Each year a fair would draw people from different parts of the population including the not so popular areas.

See also: Medieval Towns

MLA Citation/Reference

"Medieval Guilds". 2015. Web.