Educational and Care-Giving Functions of the Urzedów Guilds in the 15th-18th Centuries
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Craft guilds were organizations that protected the economic interests and rights of their members, provided them with educational opportunities and social care. There were a lot of such organizations in the 'regal' town of Urzedów, which gained its Magdeburg Rights from Wladyslaw Jagiello in 1405. The activity of the guilds relates directly to the issue of education of male youth. The guild masters organized workshops, which, in view of the fact there was no other vocation training available, made the only way to get practical training and trade for the male youth. This is why the guilds must be said to have created an educational environment, similar to modern private vocational schools, giving hosts of young pupils and apprentices a chance of developing their trade and skills in various domains. The first step on the way to the status of an independent craftsman - a master of a craft - was getting education from a tutor, after a two-week probation period. The tuition period usually lasted three years. The next step was nomination to apprenticeship, after which the apprentice had to gain comprehensive experience by subsequently working in a number of workshops run by independent masters. Years of educational efforts and vocational practice ended with a master exam. Being awarded the title, one could set up their own workshop. Noteworthy is the social care that the guild took of the guild members, particularly over the widows and orphans of deceased masters. A gesture of solidarity with the dead members was obligatory participation in the funeral ceremony.
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