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Guilds and the Parish Community in Late Medieval East Anglia, C.1470-1550

The parish and the guild were the two poles round which social and religious life revolved in late medieval England. This study, drawing freely on East Anglian records, shows how influential they were in the lives of their communities in the years before the break with Rome - and provides an implicit commentary on the impact of the Henrician Reformation at parish level. The records of many of the guilds (or fraternities) of East Anglia in the years 1470-1550 are examined for evidence of their form, function and popularity; the spread of fraternities across East Anglia, the size of individual guilds, types of member, and the benefits of guild membership are all studied in detail. The social and religious functions of the fraternities are then compared with the parish, through a study of the records of two Norfolk market towns (Wymondham and Swaffham) and two Suffolk villages (Bardwell and Cratfield). A final chapter studies the fortunes of the guilds during the early years of the Reformation, up to their dissolution in 1548. Ken Farnhill is research associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York.
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Table of Contents

Context; patterns of guild activity in East Anglia; guild members and officers; the benefits of guild membership; the guilds of Wymondham; the guilds of Swaffham; the guilds of Bardwell and Cratfield; the Reformation. Appendix: a list of the guilds in Norfolk.


In its richly detailed analysis of guilds' economic enterprises and social functions, this study adds a great deal to our understanding of their multiple purposes and vital contributions to late medieval culture. MEDIEVAL REVIEW [US] Scrupulous and judicious scholar. He provides an excellent introduction to the historiography of the guilds and to the surviving sources for their study... His book carries an important negative message: how little we really know about the functioning and meaning of these institutions. That is of no small significance when one considers how much interpretative weight has been placed upon them. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

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