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Gifting cultures and artisanal guilds in sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century London

Kilburn-Toppin, Jasmine (2017) Gifting cultures and artisanal guilds in sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century London. The Historical Journal, 60 (4). pp. 865-887. ISSN 0018-246X. E-ISSN 1469-5103. (doi:10.1017/S0018246X16000583)

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https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X16000583

Abstract

This article reconsiders the gift within London's sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century livery companies. Previous research into guild gift-giving cultures has focused exclusively upon substantial bequests of money and property by mercantile elites to the ‘great twelve’ livery companies. Through charitable gifts, citizens established godly reputations and legacies, perpetuated through the guild institution. It is argued here that a rich culture of material gift-giving, hitherto overlooked by historians, also thrived within London's craft guilds. Drawing on company gift books, inventories, and material survivals from guild collections, this article examines typologies of donors and gifts, the anticipated ‘returns’ on the gift by the recipient company, and the ideal spatial and temporal contexts for gift-giving. This material approach reveals that master artisans negotiated civic status, authority, and memory through the presentation of a wide range of gifted artefacts for display and ritual use in London's livery halls. Moreover, this culture of gift-giving was so deep-rooted and significant that it survived the Reformation upheavals largely intact. Finally, the embellishment of rituals of gifting, and the synchronization of gifting and feasting rites from the second half of the sixteenth century, are further evidence for the resurgence of English civic culture in this era.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0018246X16000583
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: James Farley
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2018 14:39 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2020 09:53 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/68972 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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