Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan
A Civic Relationship: The Guild Book of the Barbers and Surgeons of York as an Expression of Professional Status and City Authority (Richard Wragg)
← 234 | 235 →RICHARD WRAGG
A Civic Relationship: The Guild Book of the Barbers and Surgeons of York as an Expression of Professional Status and City Authority
The history of a guild can be explored and understood in a variety of ways.1 The documentary evidence that it produced, where it remains extant, can reveal a great deal about its activities. A guild’s records can state the rules that were observed by its members and they can list the members themselves. We can use a guild’s records in other ways too, however. The physical nature of a manuscript can help us to understand the social world of the guild. By studying how a book was constructed, added to and used, it is possible to glimpse an abstract space in which individuals symbolically existed. A guild book offered a physical entity in which individuals’ names could be recorded and situated alongside legislative texts. In this way it might bind guild members together and present a focal point for ceremonial activities. Thus, a guild book’s original use might be understood as being that of an abstract space within a physical one. The importance of such a manuscript is in its dual functions as both a symbolic object and an authoritative record.
This chapter explores how the relationships, of guild members and of guilds and city authorities, might be investigated through a careful study of a single manuscript volume. By exploring the physical make-up of the manuscript British Library...
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