Category:Merchants' Guilds

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Ruler: The Guild Master
Seat: Usually a local guildhall


Origin and History

Ranks and forms of address

These are typical of most such guilds, not universal

  • Guild Rank 5: (Master X) The Most Honourable X, Guild Master of the [Merchants' Guild/Company/&c.] of [City]
  • Guild Rank 4: (Master X) The Honourable X, Councilman of the [Merchants' Guild/Company/&c.] of [City]
  • Guild Rank 4: Master X, [Officer] of the [Merchants' Guild/Company/&c.] of [City]
    • Elderman
    • Warden
    • Clerk
    • [Specific Officer]
  • Guild Rank 3: Master X, Senior-[Merchant] of the [Merchants' Guild/Company/&c.] of [City]
  • Guild Rank 1-2: Master X, Free-[Merchant] of the [Merchants' Guild/Company/&c.] of [City] (an "ordinary" member, obtainable by patrimony or by apprenticeship (or sometimes, by purchase (AKA "redemption"), or by honour))
  • Guild Rank 0: X, Apprentice-[Merchant] of the [Merchants' Guild/Company/&c.] of [City]


  • Can not sell retail to “strangers” (traders from other towns)
  • Strangers can sell only to guildsmen
  • Exempt from certain taxes and tolls
  • Ancillary workers in the town can work only for gild members
  • Offers mutual support for members – burial costs, pensions for widows and orphans, and so on.
  • Each guild pays the king an annual fee in exchange for the right to meet

In exchange for their privileges, guildsmen paid a membership fee, and subjected themselves to the gild laws and customs. The gild had its own court where complaints and disputes were heard, and it was at meetings of the gild – commonly accompanied by formal feasts – that elections to gild positions were held. In many cases, the gild merchant became the effective governing body of the town, since its members were the most wealthy and influential townsmen.

Specific Guilds

Rumor Has It…

Behind the Scenes

  • Mostly "historical": ideally, fewer of them, covering somewhat broader, "generic" categories of crafts/trades.

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