Medieval Guilds played an important role in Medieval towns as guilds attempted to guarantee standards amongst crafts in Medieval England.
A group of skilled craftsmen in the same trade might form themselves into a guild. A guild would make sure that anything made by a guild member was up to standard and was sold for a fair price. Membership of a guild was an honour as it was a sign that you were a skilled worker who had some respect in society.
Some members of a guild were chosen to check that other members of the guild were working up to standard. Those guild members who were found to be cheating the public would be fined or made to do work again but at their own cost. The worst punishment was to be expelled from your guild as it meant that you could no longer trade in your town. A guild would look after you – as a member of it – if you were sick. It would help the families of dead guild members.
Apprentices to a guild could be as young as twelve years old. They were taught a trade by a guild member. He would expect to be paid for this by the parents of the boy. An apprentice could live with his master for anything up to 14 years. The guild member had made a promise to teach the boy well and this could take time. Apprentices were not expected to get married during their apprenticeship. Going to the inn was usually banned as well.
Once an apprenticeship was over, the young person now became a journeyman. He would be paid a wage and once he had saved enough money, he could start up a business of his own.
Only members of a guild could sell within a town. This was meant to keep up quality. However, on market days anybody could sell their goods in the market whether they were skilled or not. An annual fair would attract people from far and wide…….including those a town or city would not want.