The year was 1267, and blood flowed in the muddy streets of London.A dispute between two guilds the Goldsmiths and the Tailors had escalated until it turned into armed conflict.Meanwhile, as the livery guilds continued to joust with the monarchy over who would ultimately control the innumerable revenue streams produced by the English economy, growing international trade had begun to transform some of the guilds into the first actual business corporations.In 1505, the Mercers’ Guild spawned the “Guild or Fraternity of St.They were not unified businesses, but rather umbrella groups for the members of particular crafts.But already, some seeds of the corporation can be seen.Similarly, when one Edward Darcy obtained a right to approve and stamp all skins, his monopoly sparked a rebellion by the Leathersellers.
Another revenue source, employed both by Elizabeth I and James I, was to call in all the guilds’ charters for renewal, not because the charters needed renewal, but merely to create an opportunity for collecting fees.
Given the advantages inherent in controlling such a function, it is no wonder that gifts or sales of monopolies to non-guild members provoked bitter guild opposition.
In 1580, when Queen Elizabeth attempted to grant a monopoly on the gauging of beer to one of her court favourites, the Brewers’ Guild mounted a fierce campaign to dissuade her.
One such seed was a tendency toward exclusion and hierarchy as organizing principles.
Even by the fourteenth century, the craft guild had moved a considerable distance from its communal roots in a Saxon tribal institution known as the frith gild, an association that included both men and women and served a variety of protective, religious, and mutual-aid functions.