In the Middle Ages and early modern times, craftsmen came together in guilds. Such guilds were not only present in the big free imperial cities, but also in the many towns large and small that were seats of the nobility. Guilds had strict criteria for admission and regulated everything to do with the craft in question – from training, wages and prices to quality assurance for the products. They also tried to force troublesome competitors out of the market.
Town guilds enjoyed special privileges, granted by the sovereign in the form of guild regulations or guild charters. The oldest guild charter from the Solms region was issued to the tailors in 1458. Take a look at the wall display to see other Braunfels charters issued to the tailors, the bakers and the linen weavers.
An unusual exhibit features two surviving guild chests from the time of Count Heinrich Trajektin: the chest belonging to the shoemakers' guild from 1658, and the one belonging to the blacksmiths’ guild from 1663. The guilds’ most valuable possessions were stored in these chests: guild charters, statutes and lists of names, seal stamps, monetary assets and other prestigious objects.
Like Heinrich Trajektin, whose uniform you saw earlier at stop number 18, his successor Wilhelm Moritz took an interest in developing his domain and the county town of Braunfels. He issued guild charters, but also encouraged tradesmen and craftsmen – especially Huguenots – to settle in the county. And last but not least, Braunfels owes its beautiful market square to him: it was laid out all in one piece and has been preserved unchanged to this day.
All depictions: © Schloss Braunfels