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Medieval Sourcebook:
The Garment Cutters of Stendal:
Guild Law Revision, 1231

[Bernard and Hodges]
Industry in the Early Middle Age had been the work of serfs on the manor, providing for local needs. With the growth of towns, however, free craftsmen became numerous and sought mutual advantages by forming craft guilds. The following selection is from guild regulations of Stendal, drawn up in 1231.

. .John and Otto, by the grace of God, margraves of Brandenburg. . . . We make known . . . that we . . . desiring to provide properly for our city of Stendal, have changed, and do change, for the better, the laws of the gild brethren, and of those who are called cloth-cutters, so that they might have the same laws in this craft as their gild brethren the garment cutters in Magdeburg have been accustomed to observe in the past.

These are the laws:

1. No one shall presume to cut cloth, except he be of our craft; those who break this rule will amend to the gild with three talents.

2. Thrice a year there ought to be a meeting of the brethren, and whoever does not come to it will amend according to justice.

3. Whoever wishes to enter the fraternity whose father was a brother and cut cloth will come with his friends to the meeting of the brethren, and if he conduct himself honestly, be will be able to join the gild at the first request on payment of five solidi, and he will give six denarii to the master. And if he be dishonest and should not conduct himself well, be should be put off until the second or third meeting. But any of our citizens who wish to enter the gild, if he be an honest man, and worthy, will give a talent to the brethren on entry into the gild, and will present a solidus to the master. But if a guest who is an honest man should decide to join our fraternity, be will give thirty solidi to the gild on his entry, and eighteen denarii to the master.

4. But in the time of the fairs, that is of the annual fair, any guest, even if he be not of the craft, will be able to cut cloth during the whole fair. 5. If any of our burgesses holding office wish to enter the crafts he will abjure his office, and, on entrance to the gild, will present one mark of gold freely to the brethren, and to the master eighteen denarii.

6. If any brother has been accustomed to prepare cloth in his house and is wont to cut or sell it at the wish of others, he will either cease or have no part in his fraternity.

7. Whatever two parts of the brethren have decreed to do the third part ought to consent to do; but if that third be unwilling, each will amend with three solidi, and will pay them at the next meeting.

8. Every year a master and four other good men who shall preside over the affairs of the gild will be faithfully chosen.

9. Moreover whoever goes contrary to these decrees and is unwilling to obey the master and brethren according to justice, his contumacy ought to be referred to the judgment of his superior. . . .

From Roy C. Cave and Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee, WI: Bruce, 1936), pp. 246-247. Reprinted in Leon Bernard and Theodore B. Hodges, eds. Readings in European History, (New York: Macmillan, 1958), 114-115


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall June 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu