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Craft Guilds


The craft guilds have its root in the early medieval trade guilds, which were social unions for traveling traders. Under the influence of the growing town culture in North Germany craft guilds were established, which apart from social functions also regulated the production within the single areas. But is was not until the late Middle Ages that the guilds take shape and in recognized by the royal power.

The Craft Guilds
The craftsmen had, just like the merchants, unions. The intent was to limit competition and uphold quality and prices. The craft guilds in Denmark started to develop in the 15th century, but were not seriously established until the end of the 16th century.

Indpendence or not
The king sanctioned the craft guilds and their regulations and gave them the right to control the production and the right to internal legal proceedings. Sometimes conflicts arose around the independence of the guilds and then the king could limit their autonomy for a while. King Hans (1481-1513) banned the cobblers´ guild in Elsinore in 1510, but sanctioned it later

The Influence of the Bakers
Frederik II sanctioned the bakers´ guild in Elsinore in 1559. The bakers were an important and strong group in the medieval towns, as they guaranteed the daily need of bread. It was not common to bake in the homes, as the fire hazard was too great in connection with the lighting of the ovens. It was regulated in minute detail how the bread should look. The weight, the quality and the prices were determined too.
The Baton
The Baton
The Welcome
The Welcome
The Craft Guild
The Craft Guild

The guilds were not always limited to a certain craft. Sometimes different crafts were united in one guild. Hans Christiansen Sthen (1540-1610) was a priest and headmaster of the grammar school in Elsinore. He wrote a comedy (Kort Vending), where he portrayed different individuals. He also described the transition from the time, when craftsmen did various crafts to the time, when they specialized:
Just do the crafts you know
As a gentleman, true and just
Look to God and work freely
In the calling, where you belong
You will have food and clothes
In the hope you will feel joy

©  Øresundstid 2009