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Re: The Utility of Guilds

A discussion between Tadhg and Earl Dafydd follows:


I won't cite the rest of your points here, because the above is

sufficient for me to make my point.  Which is this: there are a

lot of structures that fulfill many, or all, the objectives we

agree upon as laudable (teaching, service, etc.).  The University

of Atlantia; Colleges within that University; Fighting Schola (in

the classical sense); Workshops; Households; Fraternal Organizations

of Moose; and SCA Guilds.  I am NOT saying "DO NOT BE A GUILD".



> And I reiterate, 

>     "Monopoly is not consistent with nonprofit, educational 

>     organization."

Ah.  So you are really saying:

"Medieval Guilds are not consistent with the SCA".

I agree completely.  :^)


This thread has brought back to mind an idea I toyed with some time ago.

What would make a good guild?

SCA guilds are not very similar to medieval guilds (there, I said it), 
except in superficial structure.  Their aims and goals are totally 
different.  Perhaps the only true case for a real guild would be totally 
in the context of how it would have been used in period.  I'll give a 
theoretical example...

There are perhaps a dozen merchants which make excellent period shoes.  
Their shoes are far and beyond better than anyone else's.  Under our 
current customs, they would be expected to share their knowledge with the 
general populace.  Suppose instead that these cobblers banded together, 
perhaps even incorporating, and developed a guild structure.  Members of 
the guild are allowed to display a stamp on their wares showing that they 
meet the guilds quality standards, and are in return lend their quality 
to the status of the guild.  Their knowledge and skill support the guild 
who in return supports them in their work.  Promotion of new Masters 
would be frowned upon since it would cut into the market of the existing 

Would this work?  I suspect it might for a time - there are a number of 
major factors which could easily break the guild monopoly.

	1)  There would be no official monopoly.  If Joe Newbie wanted to start 
making shoes and had a real talent for it, the guild could take no 
official action against him.

	2)  The populace would have to agree that shoes made by the guild are of 
better quality.

	3)  The populace would have to agree that there is a need for high 
quality period shoes (voting by dollars).

The bottom line is that a guild can exist (power politics aside) only 
with the consent and respect of the populace - and only if they are 
performing a useful function.  Once they stop serving a function, nobody 
wants to do it anymore...who wants to be the albatross?  They, like any 
other organization today, have only the power that others give them.

This is the closest I can come to a medieval guild structure, but it is 
still flawed.  There is still no enforced monopoly which would create a 
driving need for a guild.  Stongarm tactics would not work for any length 
of time and I don't see anyone granting an official monopoly to a guild.

So, after all this, we're still back to the fact that SCA Guilds are not 
like Medieval Guilds.