Park M. (2003) Guilds and the art market

June 28, 2009

Park, Maarteen (2003) “Guilds and the Development of the Art Market during the Dutch Golden Age”, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, 30/3, 236-251.

Picture 16Picture 15Picture 17


The rise of Dutch painting in the 17th century is contemporary with a dramatic expansion of the corporate system (p.236). Traditional art history sees the success of Dutch painting as a reaction against the highly idealized representation of the world provided by Italian art. Economic historians on the other hand have insisted “market forces helped shape, if not caused, the development of Dutch painting”. But supply-side factors may also have had a part in the process; guilds provided a type of organization that influenced Dutch painting. Read the rest of this entry »

Gelderblom O. (2005) The decline of fairs and merchant guilds

March 13, 2009

Gelderblom, Oscar (2005) “The decline of Fairs and Merchant Guilds in the Low Countries, 1250-1650″, Economy and Society in the Low Countries before 1850, Working Paper 1, 47p.


This article is available on line

Between the 11th and 13th century, during the Commercial Revolution, long-distance trade in Europe expanded rapidly thanks to organizational improvements such as fairs and merchant guilds (p.1). In fairs, merchants increased their chance to find business partners and benefited from the protection and the contract-enforcement abilities of the local jurisdictions. Merchant guilds were associations of traders from the same origin present in a foreign market and united in order to increase their bargain power with local authorities (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »

Faroqhi S. (2005) The Ottoman guilds

January 24, 2009

Faroqhi Suraiya (2005) “Chapter 1: Understanding Ottoman Guilds”, in Faroqhi Suraiya and Deguilhem Randi, Crafts and Craftsmen of the Middle East: Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, London/New York: I.B.Tauris, 3-39.



The main problem for the study of the Ottoman guilds is the lack of sources to study them, specially before 1570; it is not even known whether they were introduced by the 16th-century conquest in the Arab lands (Syria and Egypt) or if they existed there before (p.3). Early 20th century scholars were particularly interested in the relationship the Ottoman artisans had with religion. In particular, Ülgener wondered why the advanced Ottoman economy did not make the transition to capitalism. For him the shift away of international trade created conditions in which the only way for craftsmen to accept economic stagnation was to develop a mental system based on modesty, egalitarianism, religious piety and small mindedness (p.5). Read the rest of this entry »

Wiesner M. (1999) Single working women in premodern Germany

January 22, 2009

Wiesner Merry E. (1999) “Having her own smoke. Employment and independence for singlewomen in Germany, 1400-1750” in Benett Judith M. and Froide Amy M., Singlewomen in the European past 1250-1800, Philadelphia: University Philadelphia Press, 192-213.



Premodern German cities commonly worried about their Frauenüberschuß, or surplus of women. As early as the 14th century from 15 to 25% of women were headed by singlewomen (p.192). Women married relatively late (25 to 28 in villages and 21 to 25 in cities; p.194).

Importantly the situation of never-married single women (as opposed to widows) varied considerably whether or not they children. Those with children were considerably poorer (p.195).

The rising tide of hatred

In the late 15th century Catholic humanist and later Protestant scholars reverted the medieval praise for the holy celibate to defend the values of marriage. Single men were targetted by moralists but they were too economically valuable to suffer significant legal persecution (p.196). Read the rest of this entry »

Richardson G. (2005) Obamanomics and the medieval frat boys

January 1, 2009

Richardson Gary (2005) “The Prudent Village: Risk Pooling Institution in Medieval English Agriculture”, The Journal Of Economic History, 65/2, 386-413.


In this somewhat cumbersome article, Richardson argues against McCloskey’s widely accepted vision of the medieval peasant’s management of the risk of crop failures by scattering his arable land throughout his village. This strategy had a major shortcoming: it significantly reduced average crop yield, but according to Mc Closkey, no better option was available to mitigate the risks of everyday agrarian life (p.386).
Read the rest of this entry »

Epstein S. R. (2008) Craft guilds in the pre-modern economy

June 29, 2008

Epstein Stephen. R. (2008) “Craft guilds in the pre-modern economy: a discussion”, The Economic History Review, 61/1, 155-174.

This article of Larry Epstein is a discussion of Sheilagh Ogilvie’s article published by the review in 2004. In turn, Sheilagh Ogilve is offered to answer to professor Epstein’s comments. The result is a dynamic presentation of the current state of the research by two brilliant and passionate academics. Read the rest of this entry »

Britnell R. H. (2001) Specialization in England, 1100-1300

January 27, 2008

Britnell Richard H. (2001) “Specialization of work in England, 1100-1300”, Economic History Review, 54/1, 1-16.


The 12th and 13th centuries experienced growing population. The more people, the more likely it is that some will become specialized in an activity where they enjoy a comparative advantage (see Adam Smith). Persson has estimated that this led to a 0.1 to 0.25 yearly increase of productivity per caput in England over two centuries (i.e. between 22 and 62% for the whole period). But to what extend the period’s productivity gains are attributable to specialization? Read the rest of this entry »