Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/549

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capitalist system of giving out materials to the weavers and buying their cloth was able to make its way imperceptibly.

In continental towns, where there was a large number of independent masters strongly organised in craft-gilds, a very decided antagonism prevailed between the old order and the new that was being gradually introduced. In France the corps-de-metier assumed a more and more oligarchical character, as increasing obstacles were being put in the way of journeymen who aimed at attaining the status of independent masters. A further indication of the same tendency, and of the differentiation of the journeymen as a permanent class within the trade, is found in the existence of journeyman gilds at Strassburg and elsewhere. The rise of a wealthy capitalist class within a craft-gild tended on the one hand to change the character of the old association and to make it a company of capitalists and traders, each of whom employed a large number of paid workmen; and, on the other hand, to call forth associations among the journeymen who had little hope of attaining to a higher status as independent masters, and who were therefore interested in maintaining favourable conditions for a wage-earning class. In other cases the pressure of the changed conditions was most severely felt by the small masters, since the men with large capital and a growing trade were able to pay better wages; the capitalists and journeymen were then united in opposition to the small masters, who desired to retain the restrictions imposed by the old craft-gilds.

Where the conservative policy was successful and the small independent masters held their own, the results were not satisfactory; the craft-gilds could maintain the old rules, but they could not control the course of trade; business migrated to the centres where it could be conducted on capitalistic lines. In Flanders and in England we hear much of the conflict between urban and suburban workmen; this antagonism was partly due to the fact that the journeymen were inclined to migrate to districts where the rules which prevented them from setting up in business or working for capitalist employers could not be enforced. The trend of affairs was going against the old type of craft-gild; and these institutions, in so far as they were incompatible with the investment of capital in industrial occupations, were bound to pass away.

To some extent, however, they proved to be compatible with the new order; the craft-gilds played an important part by exercising a right of search, and by insisting that the wares exposed for sale should be good in quality. Both in France and in England they were retained to some extent as convenient instruments for the royal or parliamentary control of the conditions of work and the quality of the output; occasionally, too, they retained their name and tradition, though they had changed their character and become associations of employers. At the close of the sixteenth century the organisation of industry by capitalists, which