Guilds were prominent in medieval and early modern Europe, but their economic role has seldom been studied. In The European Guilds: An Economic Analysis
(Princeton University Press, 2019), Sheilagh Ogilvie
offers a wide-ranging examination of what guilds did and how they affected pre-modern economies. As Ogilvie explains, guilds were particularized institutions which created and enforced privileges for their members while denying them to outsiders. This authority was granted to them by rulers and governments, and depended on their intricate relationship with the public authorities. Their privileges entitled guilds to determine who could participate in a profession, the quality of the items their members produced, and the technological innovations their members could adopt. Ogilvie looks at all aspects of guild activities to show their wide-ranging impact on the economies of their time, and the ways they pursued their members’ interests even when it stifled growth for the rest of society.