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Gilds in United Kingdom

During the Absolutism of the Tudors, 1485-1603

James I summarized his idea of absolutism government in the famous Latin epigram, “a deo rex, a rege lex, “—”the king is from God, and law from the king.”

All the Tudors asserted their supremacy in the sphere of industry and commerce. By a law of 1503, the craft gilds had been obliged to obtain the approval of royal officers for whatever new ordinances the gilds might wish to make. In the first year of the reign of Edward VI the gilds were crippled by the loss of part of their property, which was confiscated under the pretext of religious reform. Elizabeth’s reign was notable for laws regulating apprenticeship, prescribing the terms of employment of laborers, providing that wages should be fixed by justices of the peace, and ordering vagabonds to be set to work.

In the case of commerce, the royal power was exerted encouragingly, as when Henry VII negotiated the Intercursus Magnus with the duke of Burgundy to gain admittance for English goods into the Netherlands, or chartered the “Merchant Adventurers” to carry on trade in English woolen cloth, or sent John Cabot to seek an Atlantic route to Asia; or as when Elizabeth countenanced and abetted explorers and privateers and smugglers and slave-traders in extending her country’s maritime power at the expense of Spain. All this meant that the strong hand of the English monarch had been laid upon commerce and industry as well as upon justice, finance, and religion.



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  • Article Name: Gilds
  • Author: International
  • Description: During the Absolutism of the Tudors, 1485-1603 James I summarized his idea of absolutism government in the famous Latin [...]

This entry was last updated: October 30, 2016



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