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Building Early Modern EdinburghA Social History of Craftwork and Incorporation$
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Aaron Allen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442381

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442381.001.0001

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Craft and Burgh: Conflict or Partnership?

Craft and Burgh: Conflict or Partnership?

(p.150) 4 Craft and Burgh: Conflict or Partnership?
Building Early Modern Edinburgh

Aaron Allen

Edinburgh University Press

The fourth chapter considers relations between the Incorporation and the wider burgh, looking at council control and customer interference. Sixteenth-century craft-council relations are usually portrayed as a merchant-craft conflict, though recent historiography has begun to question how pervasive this conflict was. Building on this debate, should we see relations between the Incorporation and the magistrates as a process of gradual integration, as the new burgh constitution of 1583 gave the crafts a firm role in burgh politics? The situation was complicated by demographic growth, suburban competition, and the interference of powerful burgh customers, such as the nobility, the church and the crown, all of which encouraged the unfree craftsman and woman. Some institutions of council control, such as parliamentary laws over the setting of prices, or restrictions to foreign trade in crucial raw materials complicated relations further, though questions arise over the effectiveness of such prescriptive legislation, as shown by Incorporation minutes which suggest that they set their own prices by the eighteenth century. Using burgesship and guildry rolls, the relationship between the trades of Mary’s Chapel and the merchant guild are explored. To what extent were the Incorporation partners with the merchant dominated council, and what impact did the 1583 ‘decreet arbitral’ have on the relationship between House and burgh?

Keywords:   Merchants, Town Council, Dean of Guild, Guildry, Suburbs, Court, Merchant-vs-Craftsman Debate, 1583 Decreet Arbitral, Politics

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