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Learned authorities have frequently discussed, without agreeing, on the question of the origin of the Corporations of the Middle Ages. It may be admitted, we think à priori, that associations of artisans were as ancient as the trades themselves. It may readily be imagined that the numerous members of the industrial classes, having to maintain and defend their common rights and common interests, would have sought to establish mutual fraternal associations among themselves. The deeper we dive into ancient history the clearer we perceive traces, more or less distinct, of these kinds of associations. To cite only two examples, which may serve to some extent as an historical parallel to the analogous institutions of the present day, we may mention the Roman Colleges, which were really leagues of artisans following the same calling; and the Scandinavian guilds, whose object was to assimilate the different branches of industry and trade, either of a city or of some particular district.
Source: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period, by Paul Lacroix. Modifed to illustrate web usability principles.
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Last updated on Thursday, November 17, 2011.
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