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The first step in this was the institution of the kin-bond, wherein blood relatives stood together for support and protection, the individual and his family being mutually responsible.
This gave way in the course of time to voluntary associations founded not on blood relationship but Is custom essay meister good community ties, existing to protect the individual against the group, to preserve order in the settlement, and for a variety of similar purposes.
These associations, described as "artificial" in contrast to the "natural" bond of blood, were the first gilds in England, in virtue of which fact it cannot be said that anybody ever "discovered" or "invented" gilds; they grew out of natural conditions in response to social necessity, just as they had come into existence among the Greeks and Romans centuries before, the former calling them "thiassoi", etc.
It is generally believed by the more dependable authorities that it is very possible that there may have been some historical continuity between the gilds of early England and the Roman collegia, but the historical remains of the period are too scanty to enable us to make sure on that point.
If such a continuity ever existed it was more probable in Italy, where the collegia longest endured, and which, like most other European countries, had a gild system of its own. The word "gild" sometimes spelled "guild" continues to be a puzzle so far as its etymology is concerned. The North Germans had "geld", meaning money; the Danish, "gilde", a religious feast in honour of the god Odin; the Anglo-Saxons, "gild", from same root as "yield", and meaning a fixed payment of money; the Bretons "gouil", a feast or holiday; the Welsh "gmylad", a festival.
In later times, when gilds became everywhere common, the North Germans used the word "gild"; the South Germans, "zunft"; the French, "metier"; and the Italians, "arte". In the sixteenth century England the word was generally superseded by "company", "corporation" or "mystery", the last name derived from the Latin "ministerium", or trade, and having no reference to anything mysterious, being preserved in our usage to this day, as when we speak of the arts, parts and mysteries of Freemasonry.
The first gilds, as it is believed, were organized in Italy. In France they were very common before Charlemagne, and are first mentioned in the Carolingian Capitularies of and Commercial and craft gilds began to become common in France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden in the eleventh century.
The oldest known ordinances, as the written laws for the government of a gild were called, occur in England in the eleventh century. The gild principle proved so successful and was applied to so many uses that by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it became the outstanding feature of the social and economic life of Europe.
One of the commonest early uses of that principle was in the "frith", or peace, gilds, which became very popular in North Europe in the sixth century - the Vikings organized then to suppress piracy - and in England the century later, where they were referred to in the Laws of Ine.
These were voluntary associations of men organized for mutual defense, to supplement defective laws, and to police the community in a period when national governments were not known and when the authority of the town was very weak. We saw this system at work in our own land under pioneer conditions, as in the case of the Vigilantes, and even today, in spite of our elaborate machinery for the enforcement of law and the protection of citizens, impatient men in some communities strive to make or enforce law by similar methods.
In the course of time gilds multiplied until they came to be used for every conceivable purpose, for good-fellowship, for drinking, for insuring a decent burial, for worship, for hunting, travel, art and for banking; priests and friars organized, sailors, travelers, woodsmen and shepherds; there were gilds for men, women, children, for rich and for poor, in the country and in the town.
Functions now performed by government, armies, schools, stores, factories, hospitals, trade unions, and most of the other innumerable forms into which social organization has differentiated itself, were then held in keeping by gilds.
The typical gild had prayers for the dead; a common chest for incidental upkeep and for the relief of the widows and orphans of deceased members; periodical meetings, with banquets; admitted members on an oath, sometimes two; administered fines; adopted ordinances for the regulation of its own activities; punished members for improper conduct, and co-operated in many ways with the town or national governments.
Most of these societies were small, the largest on record being the Corpus Christi gild at York, which once boasted of 15, members. Sometimes many gilds in a community consolidated, but there was never a country-wide merger.
Of the city of London there is record of one gild in ; of eighteen inand of in In the time of Edward III there were listed more than 40, religious and trade gilds in England; the census of showed in Norfolk alone.Professional custom writing service offers custom essays, term papers, research papers, thesis papers, reports, reviews, speeches and dissertations of superior quality written from scratch by highly qualified academic writers.
Freemasonry and the Guild System | Chapters of Masonic History by Bro. H.L. HAYWOOD, The Builder Magazine, March - PS Review of Freemasonry.
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