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Construction Guilds in Southern Italy and the Islands (15th-16th Centuries): Leadership and Rivalries


In the South of Italy and the big islands, in counter-trend with respect to the rest of the peninsula, construction guilds know a renewed vitality between the last decades of 15th and the beginning of 16th centuries. Rules, prerogatives and operative modes are regulated by statutes, often undersigned by the masters included in the trade organization, mentioning also the other actors involved in the approval processes. The intertwining of these and other archival documents sometimes reveals the leading role played within the guild by masters that overcome the anonymity usually considered to be inherent in the corporate system. Comparing the rules and the boundaries among specific trades established by the statutes, as well as the measures concerning foreign workers, with data on the construction sites it clearly appears the existence of a more or less hard professional competition. This contribution will focus on leaderships and rivalries in the guilds’ organization of the area under examination and the related work market in the field of building activities, aiming at the identification of their effects on architectural outcomes.