Artisans unite: A history of guilds
The organizations that controlled the commerce of the Old World
© Getty Images
Before there were unions, before there was such a thing as capitalism, before banks, corporations, and city councils, there were guilds. In the midst of the first breaths of civilization, guilds sprouted up to gather groups of people in the name of their shared skill or trade to work together and make that trade as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
The word "guild" might evoke images of dark and dusty halls and carpenters' shops, but for centuries of European history, guilds retained just as much, if not more, power as the kings and queens whose cities they operated in. From the first guilds of Mesopotamia to the all-powerful organizations of the Italian Renaissance, the history of guilds is one of teamwork, organization, ingenuity, and financial domination.
Intrigued? Read on to learn all about the history of guilds.
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