Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Access to the trade: monopoly and mobility in European craft guilds, 17th and 18th centuries

Prak, Maarten, Crowston, Clare, De Munck, Bert, Kissane, Christopher, Minns, Chris ORCID: 0000-0003-1685-7757, Schalk, Ruben and Wallis, Patrick ORCID: 0000-0003-1434-515X (2018) Access to the trade: monopoly and mobility in European craft guilds, 17th and 18th centuries. Economic History working papers (282/2018). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Download (612kB) | Preview


One of the standard objections against citizenship systems and trade organizations in the premodern world has been their exclusiveness. Privileged access to certain professions and industries is seen as a disincentive for technological progress. Guilds, especially, have been portrayed as providing unfair advantages to established masters and their descendants, over immigrants and other outsiders. In this paper the results of detailed local investigations of the composition of citizenries and guild apprentices and masters is brought together, to find out to what extent this picture is historically correct. This data offers an indirect measurement of the accessibility of citizenship and guilds that allows insight into the mechanisms of exclusion and their impact. The paper finds that guild masterships were in most towns open to large numbers of immigrants and non-family, as were training markets for apprentices. Therefore, we argue, our understanding of urban and guild ‘monopolies’, and the measure of protection and reward they supplied to established citizens, is in need of serious revision.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D0 - General > D02 - Institutions: Design, Formation, and Operations
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
L - Industrial Organization > L2 - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior > L22 - Firm Organization and Market Structure: Markets vs. Hierarchies; Vertical Integration; Conglomerates; Subsidiaries
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N33 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N43 - Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 14:16
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:13
Projects: 320294
Funders: European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics