College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Faculty Mentor

Randall Souza, PhD

Faculty Editor

Kendall Fisher, PhD

Student Editor

Katherine Howard


This essay examines the effect of European craft guilds on early European society. Specifically, it focuses on guilds’ impacts on women, Jews, and its own members. This historical analysis overwhelmingly finds that while European craft guilds fostered community for their members, they had the opposite, dividing, effect on excluded non-member populations. For members of a craft guild, participation meant access to expanding opportunities and greater social status and mobility. Guilds ensured members fair wages, equal chances for success, advancement of skulls and social status, and a sense of stability. Guilds acted much like a social network, hosting a wide variety of activities that fostered cohesion and cooperation. Evidence indicated that some women were able to participate in guild life, though the scope of that participation was quite limited; Jews were barred from guilds entirely. Because guilds reserved the rights to certain skilled trades, Jews and women were denied many potential livelihoods. The essay ultimately explores the historical implications of such guild inclusion and exclusion.