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Definition of medieval merchant and craft guilds.

History
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A guild is an association of artisans who control the practice of their craft in a particular town. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. [ They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society. They often depended on grants of letters patent by a monarch or other authority to enforce the flow of trade to their self-employed members, and to retain ownership of tools and the supply of materials. A lasting legacy of traditional guilds are the guildhalls constructed and used as meeting places. In medieval cities, craftsmen tended to form associations based on their trades, confraternities of textile workers, masons, carpenters, carvers, glass workers, each of whom controlled secrets of traditionally imparted technology, the "arts" or "mysteries" of their crafts. Usually the founders were free independent master craftsmen who hired apprentices. The early egalitarian communities called "guilds" (for the gold deposited in their common funds)

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