Charity and neighbourly communities among the guilds of late medieval Ghent

Laura Crombie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The craft guilds of late medieval Ghent have been analysed for their socio-economic power and their influence in politics, but understanding their function culturally and as communities remains a challenge. The terminology applied by the Ghent guilds was different, as was the parish system, but the idea of communities being solidified through informal ties, support networks and charity provides a more meaningful way of analysing guild societies and offers a new perspective on these groups. This chapter turns to ideals of charity in Ghent, and the role of mutual support in enhancing and stabilising relationships, rather than its more overt function as the economic basis of charitable systems. Guilds strove to establish enduring social ties, encouraging members to love their guild-brothers as neighbours and using commensality and devotion to emphasise social bonds and a sense of belonging.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Experience of Neighbourhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
EditorsBronach C. Kane, Simon Sandall
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317032359
ISBN (Print)9781472444707
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameStudies in Medieval History and Culture


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