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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 Growth

Guilds and Growth

(p.511) Chapter 9 Guilds and Growth
The European Guilds

Sheilagh Ogilvie

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses different measures of guild strength, in terms of guild numbers, producer—merchant relations, guilds' internal cohesiveness, their relationship with the state, characteristics of towns, interaction with the countryside, and the role of guild-free enclaves. It also examines how guild strength and weakness were associated with economic performance across pre-industrial Europe. First, European societies with relatively weak guilds saw comparatively rapid economic growth from the late medieval period onwards. Second, economic performance differed more modestly between societies with intermediate guilds and those with strong ones. Third, strong guilds were not associated with high per capita GDP or rapid economic growth at any point between 1300 and 1850. This casts doubt on the notion that guilds generated net benefits for European economies, even in their medieval inception.

Keywords:   guild strength, guild numbers, producer, merchant, internal cohesiveness, guild-free enclaves, economic performance, economic growth, European economies

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