| 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
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),
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© Paul Halsall June 1997