Gervase Rosser
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Associational life
in Towns in medieval England
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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on associational life. The diversity and economic hierarchy of the medieval town created a social environment in which there could be no natural community. Many guilds, however, attracted a social range of members, as diverse individuals and groups perceived advantage in fraternisation with significant others. More diverse, flexible and indeed voluntary than the professional associations of craftsmen, the guilds or fraternities of the medieval town brought together men and women working in various crafts, to serve ends which included both mutual insurance and public charity. The most common aim was to cultivate in the individual member a sense of moral responsibility and openness to mutual charity in relations both with the brothers and sisters of the society, and with other townspeople. The references to the jurisdiction of the guild in disputes involving townspeople hint at an authority which emerges more explicitly in later ordinances of 1486.

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Towns in medieval England

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