The European Guilds: An Economic Analysis - The Princeton Economic History of the Western World (Hardback)
  • The European Guilds: An Economic Analysis - The Princeton Economic History of the Western World (Hardback)

The European Guilds: An Economic Analysis - The Princeton Economic History of the Western World (Hardback)

Hardback 672 Pages
Published: 12/02/2019
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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.

Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691137544
Number of pages: 672
Dimensions: 235 x 155 mm


"A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year"

"Winner of the Gyorgy Ranki Prize, Economic History Association"

"Essential reading for economic historians."---Anne McCants, Journal of Economic History

"[A] compendious history. . . . The geographic breadth and temporal length of [Ogilvie's] coverage make The European Guilds unique."---Marc Levinson, Wall Street Journal

"The new and highly comprehensive book by Sheilagh Ogilvie . . . . likely to stand as one of the more important works of economic history from the last decade."---Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"A major contribution to economic history and institutional economics."---Mark Koyama, The Review of Austrian Economics

"A comprehensive study of European guilds."---Steven A. Epstein, H-France Review

"Ogilvie has re-galvanised the debate on guilds."---Richard Goddard, Medieval Archaeology

"A learned and comprehensive study of an institution that stood at the heart of the European non-agricultural economy for over seven centuries."---Jan de Vries,

"Ogilvie’s wide-ranging and scrutinous analysis of craft guilds is an essential and stimulating read for all scholars interested in guilds and institutions."---Arie van Steensel, Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History

"Ogilvie’s arguments are so well established in empirical terms, and so thoroughly designed, that all those who harbor more friendly attitudes toward guilds will have serious difficulties refuting her conclusions. . . . A unique contribution to the history of guilds.—Josef Ehmer, Renaissance Quarterly"

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