Members of the craft guilds were divided into Master, Journeyman, and Apprentice. The master was a very accomplished craftsman who took on apprentices. Usually, these were boys in their teens who were provided food, clothing, shelter, and an education by the master, in return for working for them for free as an apprentice, often for a fixed term of service from about five to nine years. After this, an apprentice became a journeyman, who was allowed to work for one or another master and was paid with wages for his labour. Once a journeyman could provide proof of his technical and artistic skills, by showing his "masterpiece", he might rise in the guild and become a master. He could then set up his own workshop, and hire and train apprentices. However, to become a master was difficult, as masters in any particular craft guild tended to be a select inner circle, who possessed not only technical competence, but also proof of their wealth and social position. It is difficult to overstate the importance of these guilds in trade and commerce prior to the industrial revolution.
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· 1 decade ago