The European Guilds

The Princeton Economic History of the Western World

Book 78
Princeton University Press
Free sample

A comprehensive analysis of European craft guilds through eight centuries of economic history

Guilds ruled many crafts and trades from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution, and have always attracted debate and controversy. They were sometimes viewed as efficient institutions that guaranteed quality and skills. But they also excluded competitors, manipulated markets, and blocked innovations. Did the benefits of guilds outweigh their costs? Analyzing thousands of guilds that dominated European economies from 1000 to 1880, The European Guilds uses vivid examples and clear economic reasoning to answer that question.

Sheilagh Ogilvie’s book features the voices of honourable guild masters, underpaid journeymen, exploited apprentices, shady officials, and outraged customers, and follows the stories of the “vile encroachers”—women, migrants, Jews, gypsies, bastards, and many others—desperate to work but hunted down by the guilds as illicit competitors. She investigates the benefits of guilds but also shines a light on their dark side. Guilds sometimes provided important services, but they also manipulated markets to profit their members. They regulated quality but prevented poor consumers from buying goods cheaply. They fostered work skills but denied apprenticeships to outsiders. They transmitted useful techniques but blocked innovations that posed a threat. Guilds existed widely not because they corrected market failures or served the common good but because they benefited two powerful groups—guild members and political elites.

Exploring guilds’ inner workings across eight centuries, The European Guilds shows how privileged institutions and exclusive networks shape the wider economy—for good or ill.

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About the author

Sheilagh Ogilvie is professor of economic history at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of the British Academy. Her books include Institutions and European Trade and A Bitter Living.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 12, 2019
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Pages
672
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ISBN
9780691185101
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development
Business & Economics / Development / General
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / Industries / General
History / Europe / General
History / Europe / Medieval
History / Europe / Western
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Before the seventeenth century, trade across Eurasia was mostly conducted in short segments along the Silk Route and Indian Ocean. Business was organized in family firms, merchant networks, and state-owned enterprises, and dominated by Chinese, Indian, and Arabic traders. However, around 1600 the first two joint-stock corporations, the English and Dutch East India Companies, were established. Going the Distance tells the story of overland and maritime trade without Europeans, of European Cape Route trade without corporations, and of how new, large-scale, and impersonal organizations arose in Europe to control long-distance trade for more than three centuries.

Ron Harris shows that by 1700, the scene and methods for global trade had dramatically changed: Dutch and English merchants shepherded goods directly from China and India to northwestern Europe. To understand this transformation, Harris compares the organizational forms used in four major regions: China, India, the Middle East, and Western Europe. The English and Dutch were the last to leap into Eurasian trade, and they innovated in order to compete. They raised capital from passive investors through impersonal stock markets and their joint-stock corporations deployed more capital, ships, and agents to deliver goods from their origins to consumers.

Going the Distance explores the history behind a cornerstone of the modern economy, and how this organizational revolution contributed to the formation of global trade and the creation of the business corporation as a key factor in Europe’s economic rise.

Philip Hoffman shatters the widespread myth that traditional agricultural societies in early modern Europe were socially and economically stagnant and ultimately dependent on wide-scale political revolution for their growth. Through a richly detailed historical investigation of the peasant agriculture of ancien-régime France, the author uncovers evidence that requires a new understanding of what constituted economic growth in such societies. His arguments rest on a measurement of long-term growth that enables him to analyze the economic, institutional, and political factors that explain its forms and rhythms. In comparing France with England and Germany, Hoffman arrives at fresh answers to some classic questions: Did French agriculture lag behind farming in other countries? If so, did the obstacles in French agriculture lurk within peasant society itself, in the peasants' culture, in their communal property rights, or in the small scale of their farms? Or did the obstacles hide elsewhere, in politics, in the tax system, or in meager opportunities for trade? The author discovers that growth cannot be explained by culture, property rights, or farm size, and argues that the real causes of growth derived from politics and gains from trade. By challenging other widely held beliefs, such as the nature of the commons and the workings of the rural economy, Hoffman offers a new analysis of peasant society and culture, one based on microeconomics and game theory and intended for a wide range of social scientists.
The Great Divergence brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. Perhaps most surprisingly, Pomeranz demonstrates that the Chinese and Japanese cores were no worse off ecologically than Western Europe. Core areas throughout the eighteenth-century Old World faced comparable local shortages of land-intensive products, shortages that were only partly resolved by trade.

Pomeranz argues that Europe's nineteenth-century divergence from the Old World owes much to the fortunate location of coal, which substituted for timber. This made Europe's failure to use its land intensively much less of a problem, while allowing growth in energy-intensive industries. Another crucial difference that he notes has to do with trade. Fortuitous global conjunctures made the Americas a greater source of needed primary products for Europe than any Asian periphery. This allowed Northwest Europe to grow dramatically in population, specialize further in manufactures, and remove labor from the land, using increased imports rather than maximizing yields. Together, coal and the New World allowed Europe to grow along resource-intensive, labor-saving paths.


Meanwhile, Asia hit a cul-de-sac. Although the East Asian hinterlands boomed after 1750, both in population and in manufacturing, this growth prevented these peripheral regions from exporting vital resources to the cloth-producing Yangzi Delta. As a result, growth in the core of East Asia's economy essentially stopped, and what growth did exist was forced along labor-intensive, resource-saving paths--paths Europe could have been forced down, too, had it not been for favorable resource stocks from underground and overseas.

In 1700, most composers were employees of noble courts or the church. But by the nineteenth century, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Verdi, and many others functioned as freelance artists teaching, performing, and selling their compositions in the private marketplace. While some believe that Mozart's career marks a clean break between these two periods, this book tells the story of a more complex and interesting transition.

F. M. Scherer first examines the political, intellectual, and economic roots of the shift from patronage to a freelance market. He describes the eighteenth-century cultural "arms race" among noble courts, the spread of private concert halls and opera houses, the increasing attendance of middle-class music lovers, and the founding of conservatories. He analyzes changing trends in how composers acquired their skills and earned their living, examining such impacts as demographic developments and new modes of transportation. The book offers insight into the diversity of composers' economic aspirations, the strategies through which they pursued success, the burgeoning music publishing industry, and the emergence of copyright protection. Scherer concludes by drawing some parallels to the economic state of music composition in our own times.


Written by a leading economist with an unusually broad knowledge of music, this fascinating account is directed toward individuals intrigued by the world of classical composers as well as those interested in economic history or the role of money in art.

Pre-modern, long-distance trade was conducted in a highly complex and uncertain environment. Aside from the lack of personal security, trade was characterized by slow communication, asymmetric information, and limited contract enforceability. There was no state, in the modern sense, to protect merchants. Despite these overwhelming problems, trade, and even overseas trade, flourished in medieval and early modern Europe. This book explores this paradox: how could trade thrive and the economy expand under uncertainties of many kinds?

Over the past two or three decades, enormous advances have been made in explaining how institutions support the economy. This book contributes to the intense discussion about institutions and institutional change. It builds on the careful examination of long-distance trade in the Baltic Sea region over a long period of time and presents a new method to identify past institutions. It challenges previous attempts to explain the pre-modern expansion of trade by institutions that governed intra-group relations. Mika Kallioinen argues that the fundamental problem of institutional development was how to create institutions that could advance a regularity of behavior between a large number of distant communities and between merchants who did not necessarily know one another. The question was how to provide security and enhance trust when trading crossed the geographical, cultural, and political boundaries that separated communities. This book extends the limits of our understanding of such inter-community institutions and their implications for later economic development.

“A hugely valuable contribution. . . . In setting out a defence of the best in economics, Rodrik has also provided a goal for the discipline as a whole.” —Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

In the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession, economics seems anything but a science. In this sharp, masterfully argued book, Dani Rodrik, a leading critic from within, takes a close look at economics to examine when it falls short and when it works, to give a surprisingly upbeat account of the discipline.

Drawing on the history of the field and his deep experience as a practitioner, Rodrik argues that economics can be a powerful tool that improves the world—but only when economists abandon universal theories and focus on getting the context right. Economics Rules argues that the discipline's much-derided mathematical models are its true strength. Models are the tools that make economics a science.

Too often, however, economists mistake a model for the model that applies everywhere and at all times. In six chapters that trace his discipline from Adam Smith to present-day work on globalization, Rodrik shows how diverse situations call for different models. Each model tells a partial story about how the world works. These stories offer wide-ranging, and sometimes contradictory, lessons—just as children’s fables offer diverse morals.

Whether the question concerns the rise of global inequality, the consequences of free trade, or the value of deficit spending, Rodrik explains how using the right models can deliver valuable new insights about social reality and public policy. Beyond the science, economics requires the craft to apply suitable models to the context.

The 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers challenged many economists' deepest assumptions about free markets. Rodrik reveals that economists' model toolkit is much richer than these free-market models. With pragmatic model selection, economists can develop successful antipoverty programs in Mexico, growth strategies in Africa, and intelligent remedies for domestic inequality.

At once a forceful critique and defense of the discipline, Economics Rules charts a path toward a more humble but more effective science.

Tanzania in the 1970s was at the forefront of policy innovation. Near-universal primary education, access to health services and supplies of clean water subsequently became mainstream ambitions in Africa and elsewhere. But its policies towards agricultural and industrial production failed and left the country in a particularly weak position when it faced the demands of structural adjustment in the 1980s. This book, originally published in 1982, has been reissued with a new introduction which brings its themes up to the present, when income from gold mining and natural gas is making Tanzania one of the most dynamic economies in Africa today. The author, first an economic civil servant in Tanzania, later an academic at the University of Dar es Salaam, was in a unique position to write it, drawing on his own experiences as well as the plethora of ideas and debates in Dar es Salaam in the 1970s. The book has stood the test of time not only because of the range of material it covers but more profoundly because of the approach it takes to the work of Tanzania's founding president, Julius Nyerere - sympathetic to his ideas, deeply critical of failures in implementation. 25 short easily-read chapters take the story of Tanzania from pre-colonial times to the present, and show how Nyerere was hemmed in by what he inherited from the German and British colonialists who ran the country up to Independence in 1961. It provides an invaluable introduction to anyone coming to the country for the first time, and offers a profound assessment of the theoretical debates that have made Tanzania of such interest to students of development.
Barbara W. Tuchman—the acclaimed author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning classic The Guns of August—once again marshals her gift for character, history, and sparkling prose to compose an astonishing portrait of medieval Europe.
 
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering age of crusades, cathedrals, and chivalry; on the other, a world plunged into chaos and spiritual agony. In this revelatory work, Barbara W. Tuchman examines not only the great rhythms of history but the grain and texture of domestic life: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes, and war dominated the lives of serf, noble, and clergy alike. Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries, and guilty passions, Tuchman re-creates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, dominating all, the knight—in all his valor and “furious follies,” a “terrible worm in an iron cocoon.”
 
Praise for A Distant Mirror
 
“Beautifully written, careful and thorough in its scholarship . . . What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was. . . . No one has ever done this better.”—The New York Review of Books
 
“A beautiful, extraordinary book . . . Tuchman at the top of her powers . . . She has done nothing finer.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . a great book, in a great historical tradition.”—Commentary

NOTE: This edition does not include color images.
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The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate.

Whether you’re a member of a board of directors looking for a new CEO, the owner of a small business searching for the right people to make your company grow, or a parent in need of a new babysitter, it’s all about Who. Inside you’ll learn how to

• avoid common “voodoo hiring” methods
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In business, you are who you hire. In Who, Geoff Smart and Randy Street offer simple, easy-to-follow steps that will put the right people in place for optimal success.
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