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Ordinance for the Bakers of Regensburg (June 17, 1588)

The guild, together with the territorial parish and the university, was one of the principal creations of medieval society. It functioned both to regulate wages, production, and sales, and to meet other needs – political, social, and religious. Guilds and other similar institutions were originally created by the practitioners of the various crafts and trades, and this Regensburg guild ordinance conveys the sense of creative freedom enjoyed by master artisans in earlier times. (Even at this time, however, that freedom was already yielding to regulation, from above, and oligarchy, from below.) The ordinance regulates the living and working conditions of apprentices in the Regensburg bakers’ trade. While framed by the masters, the ordinance stipulates some mutual rights and obligations between masters and apprentices – a degree of freedom muted in the Lüneburg guild ordinance and absent from the Hessian one. Together, the three form a spectrum: the more corporate authority, the greater the attention to familiarity and common purposes; the more territorial authority, the greater the emphasis on the regulation of production. The Regensburg ordinance devotes a good deal of attention to reciprocity between masters and apprentices and to the latter’s living conditions, working conditions, and social lives, including their drinking bouts. Their common life centers on their brotherhood’s chest (treasury), the management of which they share with the master bakers who employ them.

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The Hansegraf’s Orders Concerning what the Bakers’ Apprentices must and may not do.*

[1] First the apprentices shall support their brotherhood. Each year two masters and two master-apprentices shall be assigned custody of the chest. They should have custody of four keys to the chest, so that one may not open the chest without the others.

[2] Each year these four administrators shall give in the presence of two master bakers a reckoning of their receipts and expenditures for the brotherhood.

[3] Item, not only the apprentices but also the masters’ sons, who work in place of apprentices, should deposit one kreuzer per month in the chest, and these deposits shall be registered and placed in the aforesaid chest.

[4] Item, when the elected four, together with the apprentices, handle the collection chest, no apprentice shall carry a weapon, under penalty of ten Regensburg pence.

[5] Item, when the representatives are by the chest, they shall act in a disciplined manner at all times and shall behave modestly both in word and in deed, under penalty of ten Regensburg pence. If any shall behave improperly, however, he shall immediately be reported to the Hansegraf.

[6] And if anyone is fined on these grounds, the money shall be collected at the month’s end, and the administrators and apprentices may deposit in the chest as much as they think appropriate. From this [collection] the representatives and apprentices may deposit in the chest whatever they think appropriate, and every quarter-year they shall receive a goodly sum for drinking.

[7] Item, when the apprentices leave the business with the collection chest, they shall be well behaved, as mentioned above. At that time they shall go home to their work or be liable for a fine of ten Regensburg shillings.

[8] Item, all apprentices who come here shall have the right to work eight days. After the eighth day they may negotiate at will and ability with their masters regarding their wage. If the master’s other employees, called “helpers,” wish to leave their master’s service, they must give four weeks’ notice. And the master shall do the same. Those who are not apprentices or helpers, however, may leave with eight days’ notice. And the master the same.

[9] Bakers’ apprentices shall always go home at a proper time and hour and attend to their work. Those who do not shall be appropriately fined.

[10] Item, when the bakers’ apprentices take their dinner, they shall go to their father rather than to other innkeepers, because he is obliged, under pain of ten Regensburg shillings, to serve apprentices whether or not they are in funds.**

* The Hansegraf was an official who oversaw a guild’s internal affairs and acted as a judge in disputes – trans.
** The apprentices of each craft were apparently assigned for meals to a particular innkeeper (their “father”), who was probably paid by the guild to feed its apprentices, even when they were not in funds – trans.

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