...A brief notice may now be taken of the guilds of foreign countries. Dr. E. Brentano thinks that the rise of the continental guilds was less early and more hampered than was the case in England. He refers to the capitularies of Charlemagne and other monarchs as proof of the hindrances thrown in the way of union, and of the restrictions under which such guilds as were allowed to exist were placed. But there are various reasons for supposing that this opposition was at any rate but of a temporary character. At Ravenna [Italy] a fishers' guild existed as early as 943. The Easterlings or steel-yard merchants of London were a band of foreigners who carried on the trade between England and the Baltic countries, and they had their guild, Herbert says, of older date than the Cnihten Guild of London, already mentioned. It is the more probable supposition that this guild of the Easterlings was not a copy of a Saxon institution, but a resort to a practice with which its members were already familiar. Amongst the Teutonic nations of the Continent especially, the guild was a prominent institution, prominent by the numerous guilds which existed, and also by the power to which they attained. Thus, in 1130, the Hezlagh, or Great Guild of Sleswig, went so far as to put to death Nicholas, King of Denmark, in revenge for the murder of their alderman, Duke Canute. The Merchant Guild of Cologne was of noted strength, and fought strenuously and successfully for the liberties of their town against both aristocratical and ecclesiastical authority. As further examples, it will be sufficient to mention the facts that no less than twenty-five Silesian towns furnished members to a great Tailors' Guild; and that the German cutlers formed four great fraternities, which had Nürnberg for their centre, and whose ramifications extended all over Germany, and even into Courland and Lavonia. In proof of the rapid development of industry at this period, particularly in metals, I venture to quote the following, though somewhat of an episode.
It is recorded that there were in 1104 sword cutlers in Magdeburg, Strasburg, and the Netherlands, who also made breast-plates, shields, and helmets; in 1285 there were in Nuremberg, goldsmiths, blade-forgers, cutlers, sword-cutlers, and girdlers. The most able smiths were to be found in Styria and Solingen; and in 1392 it was reported that there was a depôt of Styrian iron goods in Bremen, whence they were exported to Russia and Prussia. In 1368 the smiths alone formed 15 out the 17 guilds that were in Augsburg. The lock-smiths were highly distinguished for their excellent workmanship in door-keys, clasps, knockers, and rails, such as are still to be seen on the church-doors at Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Freiberg. Windlass-makers appeared in Augsburg in 1453 as a peculiar department of smiths, and coppersmiths in 1363. These latter appeared in Nuremberg in 1386, in which town we also find wire-workers and braziers in 1321; in 1328 workers in tin; in 1360 coiners and wire-drawers; and in 1370 needle-makers. In Breslau, as well, we find needle and pin makers in 1390. Bell-founders and great gun makers had their chief seats in Augsburg and Nuremberg. In 1399 Hugo, of Nuremberg, cast in Augsburg an alarm-bell of 40 cwt., and in 1469 Nicholas Hilger cast great bells in Freiberg. Heavy artillery was already known in 1356, and in 1372 the council of Augsburg ordered the casting of 20 cannon. Gunners appeared in Nuremberg in 1403. In this town there were also peculiarly skilful brass and copper smiths, and metal founders, who, as Peter Vischer, for example, executed the most magnificent works of art. These crafts, indeed, were early known in Germany, proof of which exists in the renowned brazen gates of Augsburg, Mentz, and Hildesheim, which belong to the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Gold and silver smiths appeared likewise in the time of Charlemagne, and in Henry I.'s reign there lived an exceedingly clever goldsmith at Mentz. The gold plates adorned with jewels on the old manuscripts of the Gospels were also the work of goldsmiths; and in the thirteenth century there were found in use amongst the knights and their ladies costly clasps and girdles, and harness for their horses, richly ornamented with gold and silver. In Augsburg, in 1276, goldsmiths were employed in the mints, and in 1370 there were 11 masters of this craft in Nuremberg. In Vienna they appear for the first time in 1350. Artisans of this craft, too, prepared the most artistic and valuable church utensils, some of which are still preserved in the treasuries of Berlin, Vienna, and Munich. Besides these, it is said that there were in Nuremberg, in 1373, diamond-polishers; in 1383 silver-melters; in 1387, gold and silver burnishers; in Breslau, in 1470, gold-beaters; and in 1324, in Augsburg, tin-workers. Germany was at that time rich in the precious metals, which were abundantly supplied by the mines of Freiberg and Schneeberg.
Monday, October 17, 2011
I found an interesting section on the guilds in my area of study from the Journal of the Society of Arts, January 31, 1873, Pg 183, "Guilds, and Their Functions" by John Yeats, LL.D.. The following section of his article was the most informative about guilds of the Holy Roman Empire: