What are the three types of guilds?

What are the three types of guilds?

Professional guilds

Guild is a group of people who have the same trade or profession. In human history, guilds have existed almost since its beginnings and more especially since the first origins of civilization, when people began to specialize in certain social tasks: shepherds, weavers, potters, farmers, priests, doctors, etc.[2][3] Today, the guild is a group of people who have the same trade or profession.

Currently, professional associations and compulsory membership unions are organized as guild corporations, as in the case of closed shop unions, as in the United States.[11] Sometimes the word “guild” is used to describe a trade union, but sometimes the word “guild” is used to refer to a trade union.

Sometimes the word “guild” is used as a synonym for “union”, but strictly speaking “guild” is a broader term than “union”, since it covers all the persons working in that professional field, while the union is an association that covers only the persons who voluntarily decide to join it, even though it generally represents the guild as a whole. [12] The expression “trade union activity” refers to the actions and services for the benefit of the trade union, employers’ chambers, professional associations, mutual organizations and other trade associations.[13][14] The term “trade union activity” refers to the actions and services performed by trade unions, employers’ chambers, professional associations, mutual organizations and other trade associations for the benefit of the trade union.

Functions of the guilds

Guilds were professional associations born in the Middle Ages that included all the people who worked in a certain locality and in the same trade. Apparently, their origin would be related to that of the guilds, although the main purpose of the guilds was to defend their members from competition. The guilds supervised the acquisition and distribution of raw materials, the quality of the processed products, set prices and regulated working conditions, such as wages, working hours, etc.. Finally, the guilds fulfilled social functions of assistance to their members in case of illness, accident or death, as well as other functions of a spiritual nature. All these competencies were set out in ordinances. Compliance with them was monitored by juries or overseers, elected from within the guild.

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The Enlightenment was very critical of the guilds because they hindered free competition, and there was a tendency to introduce provisions that curtailed their power and monopoly. The Liberal Revolution put an end to the guilds. The first abolition took place in the Cortes de Cádiz, in line with the spirit of liberal legislation in economic and labor relations. The Liberal Triennium would also be against the guilds, but the definitive abolition of the guild monopoly would not come until the time of the Regencies in the reign of Isabel II, highlighting the decrees of 1834 and 1836. The abolition brought with it important consequences, not only economic but also social, since the guilds’ assistance system disappeared with them, leaving many workers without the coverage that their former guilds offered them.

Why guilds declined

Medieval guilds. The craft guilds or guilds were corporations formed by artisans who in a given locality were dedicated to the same trade; their purpose was the defense of professional interests and mutual assistance. Rumeu de Armas defines the guild as “the united, regulated and organized trade”. The guild governed with absolute sovereignty the industry or industries it encompassed, with a certain subordination to the municipality (drafting of rules, confirmation of guild positions) and to the royalty, whose intervention was limited to the approval of the ordinances that, drawn up by the guild itself and the municipality, were to govern the life of the corporation. In Aragon, the term “guild” was not used until well into the 17th century. Prior to that, the documents spoke of trades and, above all, of guilds to refer to these professional associations.

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In Aragon we find craft associations from the end of the 12th century. Constituted under the invocation of a patron saint, they were religious-charitable confraternities, whose main purpose was mutual aid in cases of illness and death. In the 13th century these associations evolved into guilds, due to the increasing tendency of the municipalities to regulate artisan and mercantile life. In Zaragoza we know of the existence in that century of four guilds: that of the Holy Spirit, which included farmers; that of Santa María de Predicadores, which brought together merchants; that of San Nicolás de Bari, which sponsored the arraeces (river navigators on the Ebro); and that of San Francisco, which indiscriminately grouped the artisans of the different trades. At that time in Huesca there was the San Lorenzo, which later evolved into a confraternity of noblemen with exclusivity.

Structure of the guilds

Knowledge, wisdom, solidarity, mastery and, above all, secrecy, were at the origin of all the craft associations that in the late Middle Ages in Europe (11th-15th centuries, approximately) became guilds to monopolize the production and trade of their creations in the Old Continent.

In Indian villages, artisan work was part of daily life and time was divided between the production of food and crafts, the final products of which were taken to the markets. For example, in the region of what is now Michoacán, the Purépechas achieved uncommon skills in artisan work. There, Vasco de Quiroga, taking advantage of these virtues, multiplied the work and promoted the formation of villages specialized in products of great beauty, such as polychrome pottery.

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Slowly, very slowly, the guilds were weakened in the 19th century. The commitment to solve personal problems as a body and to help each other in adversities, allowed this organization, which in the light of nineteenth-century liberalism was seen as an obstacle to development, to remain alive for almost half a century after the fall of the viceroyalty, since they survived the War of Independence and the first legislations of the nascent Mexico, until they were definitively suppressed in 1856.