The rise of the middle class
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The Rise of the Middle Class. Guilds, town, and city life. What is a guild?. Guilds were societies or associations formed during the Middle Ages (500–1500) in Europe by people in the same line of work. Guilds limited membership to prevent competition.

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The Rise of the Middle Class

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The Rise of the Middle Class

Guilds, town, and city life

What is a guild?

  • Guilds were societies or associations formed during the Middle Ages (500–1500) in Europe by people in the same line of work.

  • Guilds limited membership to prevent competition.

  • Guild members cooperated to protect their own economic interests

How were guilds organized?

  • They created rules to protect the quality of their goods, regulate hours, and set prices.

  • Guilds represented workers in one occupation.

  • No one except guild members could work in any trade.

Why were guilds established?

  • Feudalism during the Middle Ages allowed the lords and owners of the land to tax the towns and people and their trades. As trade increased during the Middle Ages the taxes became too high. In Medieval England it was impossible for just one man to make objections to the rate and amount of tax that the lord demanded. The idea of forming a Guild was born.

How did guilds change town life?

  • Guilds dominated town life. They passed laws and levied taxes.

  • Decided whether to spend funds to pave the roads with cobblestones or make other town improvements.

  • They operated schools and hospitals.

From Apprentice to Guild Master

  • A child from seven or eight could become an apprentice, or trainee, to a guild master.

  • The apprentice did not receive money but was given food and shelter.

  • Few apprentices became guild masters unless they were related to one.

Medieval Guild Halls

Guild Halls represented the power and wealth of guilds. Members met in guildhalls for grand feasts and other celebrations and festivals, and they would hold parades in honor of the guild's patron saint. Guild Halls had court rooms where members could settle disputes.

Status Change for Women

  • Women often engaged in the same trade as her father or husband.

  • She may inherit his workshop if he died.

  • Young girls became apprentices in ribbon making and paper making.

  • Women outnumbered men in the silk and wool guilds.

  • One-third of guilds in Frankfurt were women

What is a coat of arms?

  • A logo that shows what the guild makes.

  • Guilds would put the coat of arms on their products or stores to show that its theirs.

  • The specific colors and metals that are used to make the coat of arms have a symbolic meaning. Ex. Azure or blue - Loyalty and truth

  • Animals also have a symbolic meaning to the guild. Ex. Lion - Deathless courage

Coat of Arms

two back-to-back phoenixes symbolizes some sort of resurrection.

Works Cited



  • World History textbook pages 235-236


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