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The European Guilds$
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Sheilagh Ogilvie

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691137544

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691137544.001.0001

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Guilds and Women

Guilds and Women

(p.232) Chapter 5 Guilds and Women
The European Guilds

Sheilagh Ogilvie

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses how guilds balanced the benefits that their members derived from cheap and productive female workers against the threat posed by female competitors. One of the most far-reaching ways in which guilds manipulated markets was by restricting the economic options of half the population—women. Indeed, some guilds absolutely forbade any activity by any females. However, most guilds granted masters' wives and widows the right to work, at least in a conditional and limited way; some extended this to daughters and other dependent female family members; and a few admitted female masters. There were even a few guilds set up by women themselves, though usually under male tutelage. Ultimately, pre-industrial guilds provide a fruitful context for analysing the cultural, technological, and institutional determinants of economic discrimination—and its potential costs for economic performance.

Keywords:   guilds, female workers, female competitors, market manipulation, female masters, male tutelage, economic discrimination

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