Related Projects

Crafts and Guilds: Iraq, Italy and the Low Countries 600-1700

 

Start project

2009-12-01

End Project

2012-06-30

Main topic

Guilds

Description

The project is part of the larger research project ‘Economic Growth and Stagnation in the Pre-Industrial Era: Iraq, Italy and the Low Countries, 600-1700’. Iraq in the early Middle Ages, Italy in the high Middle Ages and the Low Countries in the late Middle Ages each experienced an era of economic growth and prosperity followed by stagnation. The research project studies the contribution of the institutional organization of the exchange of land, labour, capital and goods in these long-term cycles of growth and (relative) decline. The sub-project ‘Crafts and Guilds’ looks at the role of craft guilds.  

In each of the three regions the initial economic upswing was marked by a rapid growth of industries, an increasing specialization and diversification of industrial labor, and frequently also by technological innovation; in each region the pace of these processes slowed down or even came to a halt during the phase of stagnation. Organizational structures, however, diverged.

In high and late medieval Europe craft guilds had an important role in manufacturing. A growing body of research demonstrates that guild-based production helped to create and maintain an environment stimulating economic growth: in particular, guilds promoted the  development, transfer and diffusion of skills, reduced information asymmetries between producers and consumers and allowed for a better coordination of complex production processes. In the early medieval Islamic world, however, there were no guilds; they only emerged in the late Middle Ages. Still, a flourishing manufacturing sector did exist.

The project studies the alternative mechanisms that in early medieval Iraq fulfilled the roles performed by guilds in high and late medieval Europe, and compares them to the guild-based arrangements of high medieval Italy and the late medieval Low Countries. Thus, it attempts to assess the effectivity of the diverging institutional frameworks on the development of manufacturing. By placing the organization of manufacturing against the (changing) social and political characteristics of the three regions, the project also tries to explain why institutions that initially supported the rise of a vibrant manufacturing sector, at a later stage failed to sustain further growth.

Activities

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Participants

Utrecht University: Dr. J.E.C. Dijkman.

Funding body

The project 'Economic Growth and Stagnation in the Pre-Industrial Era: Iraq, Italy and the Low Countries, 600-1700' is a VICI-project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The project 'Crafts and Guilds: Iraq, Italy and the Low Countries 600-1700' is one of five sub-projects financed through the VICI-project.

Co-ordinator

  • Project 'Economic Growth and Stagnation in the Pre-Industrial Era: Iraq, Italy and the Low Countries, 600-1700': Prof. dr. B.J.P. van Bavel
  • Sub-project 'Crafts and Guilds: Iraq, Italy and the Low Countries 600-1700': dr. J.E.C.  Dijkman

Contact details

Dr. Jessica Dijkman

j.dijkman@uu.nl

Phone:  +31 (30) 253 64 60

Postal address:

Drift 10, 3512 BS , Utrecht, The Netherlands 

Links to project

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