Guilds, Innovation and the European Economy, 1400-1800

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S. R. Epstein, Maarten Prak
Cambridge University Press, Mar 31, 2008 - Business & Economics - 352 pages
For a long time guilds have been condemned as a major obstacle to economic progress in the pre-industrial era. This re-examination of the role of guilds in the early modern European economy challenges that view by taking into account fresh research on innovation, technological change and entrepreneurship. Leading economic historians argue that industry before the Industrial Revolution was much more innovative than previous studies have allowed for and explore the different products and production techniques that were launched and developed in this period. Much of this innovation was fostered by the craft guilds that formed the backbone of industrial production before the rise of the steam engine. The book traces the manifold ways in which guilds in a variety of industries in Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Britain helped to create an institutional environment conducive to technological and marketing innovations.

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About the author (2008)

S. R. Epstein (19602007) was Professor of Economic History and Head of the Economic History Department at the London School of Economics. His numerous publications include Freedom and Growth: Markets and States in Europe, 13001750 (2000) and, as editor, Town and Country in Europe, 13001800 (2002).

Maarten Prak is Professor of Social and Economic History at Utrecht University. He is author and editor of several books, including The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century (2005).

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