"ON THE SHOP FLOOR: GUILDS, ARTISANS, AND THE EUROPEAN MARKET ECONOMY, 1350-1750"* JAMES R. FARR Purdue Universi-y Introduction Much of the historical writing on the urban craft or manufacturing economy in the early modern era has focused on guilds and, more- over, has been bedeviled by a lack of distinction between the theoret- ical nature of the guild system and actual economic practice. Historians of this economy frequently ask two related questions: What role did guilds play in the functioning of the market economy? And what impact did guild regulations have upon economic development? Until recently historians had assumed that the tight regulatory regime that the guild system pronounced in its statutes, and that municipal, ducal, or royal governments endorsed in legislation, restricted economic growth, and thus strait jacketed the development of free market capitalism in places where the guild system was most firmly entrenched.' This argument frequently rests upon the assertion that the English experience was different, and that part of the explanation for the vitality of England's economy and its technological innovations in the eighteenth century can be traced to the moribund nature of its guilds. Conversely, French economic and technological "backwardness" has likewise, in part,
Journal of Early Modern History – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1997
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