The Guilds in the Kingdom of Acre

During the middle ages population was booming. Towns were developing into larger communities. The High Medieval era created European civilization as we know it today. With the population growth, so grew the need for products that could not be made at home. Many craftsman started working on products to sell.

The First Guild started by a decree of the Emperor Charlemagne. There would be one guild to one town. When the guilds started they didnÕt mind if the person was rich or poor, but once the guild was established it became very restrictive.

Guilds started because of the need of products and the diverse quality of the crafts.

Guilds were the start of unions that we have today. They promoted economic welfare, high wages, guarantee of full-time employment for their members and restricted membership. It regulated the hours a guild member could or couldn’t work, a member was not allowed to do overtime nor could they work on holidays. The guilds regulated maximum wage a craftsman could make on a product, but not the minimum wage. The quality of the craft as well as the price was regulated by the guild. The guilds forbade any price cutting, public advertising, as well as any over energetic salesmanship, employing one’s own wife and any underage child. Innovation was strongly opposed, guilds did not like the introduction of new tools. In many ways the guilds failed in the progress of technology, which took place outside of the guilds.

Becoming a master craftsman took a lot of training and many years. There were three steps one had to follow (in a set order). At a young age a boy’s father would get him into the guild by getting a master to take him on. The way this worked was the boy would become an apprentice to the master for many years Š the term was set between the father and the master. As an apprentice the boy would learn everything about the craft, the master would teach the craft as well as anything else he needed to learn, in other words the master became the apprentice’s father. When the term ended the apprentice would take a test set by the guild’s committee. If the boy passed he would become a journeyman. At this time the boy had grown into a young man, the journeyman would travel from master to master over the next couple of years learning more secrets about the craft, and would be working on his masterpiece. Once the masterpiece was done the journeyman would go to the guild committee to present it, and if the committee approved the journeyman would receive the title of Master Craftsman.

Most master craftsmen would start their own business if they could get the financial backing. If so then they would hire a couple of journeymen and take on several apprentices. If a master could not start his own business, then he would have to work for someone else.

By the fifteenth century guilds were starting to fail. The rich people in the towns took on the idea of capitalism. With that they were able to get support, hire poor people who couldn’t get into the guilds and make cheap, poor goods to sell. The idea of the guild still holds today with the unions.

The Kingdom of Acre has a system of Guilds which promotes particular areas of interest within the Arts and Sciences. Each individual guild has a structure of requirements for passage from apprentice to journeyman to master in its area of expertise, headed by a Guild master, who insures the efficient operation of the guild. The Guild master reports to the Kingdom Chamberlain, whom you should contact if you are interested in becoming involved with a particular guild, or in forming any new guild. The name and phone number of the current Chamberlain are listed on the "Regnum Acris" page of the White Hart, or in the list of Kingdom Officers in the Addendum to this book.

Some of the Special Interest areas represented in the Guild System include:

Sewing and Costuming
Poetry and Literature
Cooking and Brewing
Arms and Armor Construction
Musical Performance
Dramatic Performance
Dancing
Jesting and Juggling
Calligraphy and Illumination
Woodworking