A number of questions must be raised about the guilds. Apparently disappearing during the eighteenth century as an economic and even social institution in England, they remained strong on the Continent. Why was this so? Was it because most of the textile industry was still employing the “putting-out” system, and merchants found in the guilds a guarantee of quality workmanship they could not otherwise enforce? On the other hand, it appears that the town guilds often persuaded the public authorities to limit the number of artisans working in the countryside. Was it because local governments, influenced perhaps by mercantilist considerations, wanted to use the mechanism of the guild to regulate production over a larger area? Or was it simply that, as local bureaucracies developed, they found it convenient to reinforce the guild regulations on labor discipline in the interest of public order? Were local public authorities tempted to draw guild fines into state coffers? Whatever the reasons, it seems clear that public power had infused new life and vigor into the continental guilds in the eighteenth century.


Public Authority Tenant Farmer Master Artisan Local Bureaucracy Labor Discipline 
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  1. 4.
    The author of the cahier refers to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), which resulted in the emigration of a substantial number of Huguenot artisans. It was widely believed, with some exaggeration, that this emigration had seriously weakened French industry.Google Scholar
  2. See Warren C. Scoville, The Persecution of the Huguenots and French Economic Development, 1680–1720 (Berkeley, Calif., 1960).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1969

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  • Robert
  • Elborg Forster

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