Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/548

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reference either to the materials or to the vent for the product, was to render capitalist intervention almost inevitable; when the capitalist system is thoroughly adopted, the employer owns the materials and also undertakes to act as an intermediary in the disposal of finished goods. It is needless to observe that, when this transition is complete, it becomes the interest of the employer to push his trade and to turn over his capital as rapidly as may be; he has to cater for a varying market, and the restrictions devised for those who have been sharing the employment afforded by a known market would not suit him at all.

There were some industries, however, in great commercial centres, which from their first planting were dependent, either for materials or for the vent of their products, on distant trade. Organisation, in such callings, was almost certain to proceed on capitalist lines; the rules laid down by the leading men were devised by great employers, and not, as in the craft-gilds, by small masters who personally worked at the trade. The working and dressing of cloth at Florence was dependent on the importation of undressed cloths, which were converted into excellently finished fabrics and exported on profitable terms. This Arte di Ccdimala appears to have been organised and regulated as a capitalist industry from the earliest times; and the Arte di Lana, which was dependent on the importation of raw wool from the North, was also an association of wealthy employers. The Arte di Seta was another long-established industry; it had been improved by immigrants from Lucca in the early part of the fourteenth century, and was conducted on similar lines. Capitalist organisation was not universal in industries of this commercial type; for we find that the silk-trade of Venice in the thirteenth century was regulated by small masters, who were however dependent on the services of merchants for securing a stock of materials to be used in regular work and for selling the fabrics of the looms; it need be no matter of surprise, that a change had occurred before the most flourishing period of the Venetian silk-trade in the fifteenth century, and that merchants were engaged in it as capitalist employers.

The capitalist organisation of industry was not confined to the more advanced communities, but might be found in the most backward countries, when the commercial conditions were favourable. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when there was little export of cloth, weavers' gilds existed in London, Winchester, Beverley, and other centres, and the trade was probably conducted by independent workmen. But the clothing-trade of England was developed with increasing success, so that in the fifteenth century large quantities of woollen cloths were exported; it was evidently assuming the conditions of a capitalist trade, and was being organised by large employers. In England the transition to the new condition of affairs took place with little friction; weaving began to be practised in villages where civic gilds had no jurisdiction, and the quality of the product was inspected by a royal officer, so that the