Guild (professional association)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A guild (from Old Norse gildi "cooperative", "drinking binge") in the narrower sense was in the Middle Ages a self-serving association of merchants ( patricians ) of a city or a group of traveling traders for the protection and promotion of common interests, sealed by an oath . In a broader sense, the term also includes craft cooperatives. However, these are primarily referred to as guilds and to distinguish them from the commercial associations . In some European languages, however, the word "guild" is also used in contexts that can evidently mean guilds and guilds alike, for example in the English guild . In the Romance languages ​​such as B. Italian, a distinction is made between the arti maggiori and the arti minori for such associations of the 15th century.

The first guilds were recorded in what is now France in the 8th century. Guilds on German soil could be read for the first time in the so-called Castle Order (926) of Henry I. In contrast to the later merchant guilds and craftsmen's guilds, these early brotherhood associations did not yet have a profession-specific character. They promised their members protection and help in all areas of life. This essentially included the safety of the transport of goods, mutual support in accidents and the common cultivation of religiosity (= Kalandsgilde ). Over time, the guilds developed into trading monopolies in the respective cities, and they even set up their own trading rooms. As a result, the guilds increasingly gained political influence, and they sometimes managed to control individual cities politically. In Italy, the Medici family is an extraordinarily good example of this, and they gradually brought the city republic of Florence under their control. In the German area, the Fugger and Welser families in Augsburg and Nuremberg had a similarly large influence.

One of the most important long-distance trade guilds in Europe in the Middle Ages was the Hanseatic League , which finally developed into a powerful alliance of cities in the mid-14th century .

In addition to the traders' and craft guilds, there were also, but less often, the so-called mercenary guilds or warrior guilds, which acted according to the same principles of the guilds / guilds. These offered security for a fee, i. H. The guild has been asked for protection by merchants or wealthy / nobility for a limited period of time, e.g. B. during a trip. If a mercenary was killed on an assignment, the guild would take care of the bereaved family.


  • Ernst Cordt: The guilds. Origin and essence. Kümmerle, Göppingen 1984, ISBN 3-874-52629-1 .
  • Otto Gerhard Oexle : The medieval guilds. Your self-interpretation and your contribution to the formation of social structures. In: Albert Zimmermann (ed.): Social orders in the self-understanding of the Middle Ages (= Miscellanea Mediaevalia. Volume 12). de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1979, pp. 203-226.
  • Berent Schwineköper (Ed.): Guilds and guilds. Commercial and industrial cooperatives in the early and high Middle Ages. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1985, ISBN 3-799-56629-5 .
  • Elle Lund : Copenhagen State Philological Archives. Trade wars - Hanseatic League under the protection of the Oldenruter (bilingual German / Danish). Ethnological work out of print.
  • Walter von Brunn : From the guilds of barbers and surgeons in the Hanseatic cities. Leipzig 1921.

Web links

Wiktionary: Guild  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations