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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. Historical Journal 60 (4) , pp. 865-887. 10.1017/S0018246X16000583

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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
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0018-246X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 1 April 2017
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2021 16:31
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/130715

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