Access To The Trade: Citizens, Craft Guilds And Social And Geographical Mobility In Early Modern Europe – A Survey Of The Literature, With Additional New Data

Maarten Prak, Clare Crowston, Christopher Kissane, Chris Minns, Patrick Wallis
2014 Zenodo  
Citizenship is a socio-political instrument of inclusion – and therefore inevitably also of exclusion. It has been so ever since the invention of the concept in Antiquity. In the historical literature it is often argued that the exclusion element was for a long time predominant, and only became replaced by 'inclusion' after the French Revolution and the rise of parliamentary democracy. In the pre-modern world exclusion mechanisms were indeed an important aspect of the rules for the acquisition
more » ... f citizenship status, and in particular for guild membership and the monopoly rights that their regulations asserted. Guilds, especially, have been portrayed as providing unfair advantages to established masters and their descendants, over immigrants and other outsiders. This potentially had serious economic consequences. Privileged access to certain professions and industries is seen as a disincentive for technological progress. On the basis of this critique, we might assume that the sons of locally established citizens and masters dominated the citizenry of towns and the membership of the average craft guild. In this paper the results of detailed local investigations of the composition of citizenries and guild apprentices and masters are brought together, to find out to what extent this picture is historically correct. We argue that this data offers an indirect measurement of the accessibility of citizenship and guilds that allows insight into the mechanisms of exclusion and their impact. The paper finds that sons of established masters did dominate in some places and trades, but in many others they did not, and that, by implication, our understanding of urban and guild 'monopolies', and the measure of protection and reward they supplied to established citizens, is in need of serious revision. This in turn implies that the historical narrative of European citizenship creating an ever greater inclusiveness, is perhaps also in need of revision. Workpackage 3 explores the historical dimensions of citizenship in Europe from [...]
doi:10.5281/zenodo.8848 fatcat:ie3jzx427bezdezfluf26et7lm