The Guilds of the Armament Producers

of Sibiu, Braşov and Cluj (XIVth-XVIth C.)


Author: Ioan Marian Ţiplic.

ISBN 973-651-337-8, Editura Universităţii „Lucian Blaga”, Sibiu 2001.

© copyright Institutul pentru Cercetarea şi Valorificarea Patrimoniului Naţional în Context European, Marian Ţiplic

Seria Bibliotheca Septemcastrensis I, University “Lucian Blaga” Sibiu, Institutul pentru Cercetarea şi Valorificarea Patrimoniului Naţional în Context European.



-         Abstract –




The historiography of the 19th Century as well as the contemporany historiography neglected a broader approach on guilds and their function; they only focused on their system of organisation, that is why there are only few monographical studies on the guilds in Transylvania. Old historiography did not show too much interest in this matter as compared to its constant interest in the political and religios problem of history. Even though when some representatives of the last century historiography tried to present some aspects of the production of guilds, they dealt mostly with their political and economic influences within the medieval society. The research and the studies that have been done in the middle 19th century and its latter half by historians M. Horwath, A. Ipoly, O. Meltzl as well as those from the beginning the 20th Century for example the one of L. Szadeczky ignore these aspects, too. The last study we have is in fact the first synthesis that intends to present all the trades in Hungary from 1307 to 1848, but it has several negative aspects: ist presents the trades in an unsystematic way; it is highly nationalist presenting mainly the fights between the Hungarian and the German craftsmen.

Apart from L. Szadeczky, at the beginning of the 20th Century, R. Rösler approached the theme of the guilds and trades focusing only on the guilds in Sibiu and succeeds in writing a synthesis on the local guilds, which later on will be source of information for various studies on the guilds from Sibiu. R. Rösler presents their internal organization, their type and their specific functions namely – economic, religious, military –, the role of the craftsmen and apprentens. R. Rösler is the first who tries and partly succeeds in doing a study more profound on the different kinds of guilds.

Starting from these references point, there were other attempts to write monographical studies on guilds but these studies  are very few and those on the guilds of the armourers are practically nonexistent. In keeping with the category of syntheses we may mention A. Veress's work on the guilds from Transylvania, unfortunatelly it deals with the matter rather superficially.

Starting with the second decade of the 20th century there appeared a series of studies/works on the guilds or collections of documents mainly about the relations between the guild from Sibiu and Braşov and those from Moldavia and Wallachia.

This is explainable in this period because the new state organization of Romania had to be legitimated first of all historically, so that there were brought to light those documents that certified long-termed political and economic relations between the 3 regions of Romania, we have to mention Şt. Meteş's work Legăturile economce dintre Ţara Românească şi Transilvania până în secolul al XVIII-lea. Şt. Meteş approaches the economic exhanges between the goldsmiths' guilds, the guilds of the armourers and the other guilds from Transylvania, but mainly from Braşov and Sibiu. In fact, most studies on the guilds from Transylvania will focus on the economic aspects. at the beginning of the 20th century, I. Bogdan made a more detailed research based on documents collected from the archives of the towns in the South and east of Transylvania and those from the both countries at South Carpathians Principalities.

In 1927, S. Dragomir wrote a book on the guilds especially about the connections between Sibiu and Wallachia. Its title is Documente noi cu privire la relaţiile dintre Sibiu şi Muntenia în secolele XV-XVI and it comprises documents that reflect the economic and political connections between the two regions of the country, documents that had not been published before.

V. Motogna continued Şt. Meteş' s work and in 1928 he published Relaţiile dintre Moldova şi Transilvania în secolul al XVII-lea. This study adds new information on the commercial relations between the guilds from Transylvania and the countries beyond the Carpathians. These new pieces of information were useful to those who were to continue their general study on guild. In 1930, E. Sigerius wrote Kronik der Stadt Hermannstadt 1100-1920 based on this new information. He organized his study exactly as a chronicle focusing on the same political and economic relations between 1100-1929.

In 1938, P.P. Panaitescu brings out a new collection of documents concerning Sibiu' s relations with Wallachia. His work is entitled Documente slavo-române din Sibiu – 1470-1653.It compries all the documents from the archives of Sibiu. It chronologically folows the study published by S. Dragomir in 1927.

As a result of Romania's involvement in W.W. II, the publication of studies on guilds almost stopped. In fact, this phenomenon is happening in other fields of history.

In post-war period, the historiography on the theme of guilds improves its quality but unfortunately few studies were published. Consequently, the first and the only synthesis on the guilds from Transylvania appears in 1954. It is written by Şt. Pascu and it is called Meşteşugurile din Transilvania până în secolul al XVI-ea. The work deals with the appearance and the development of trades from villages and towns during the period between the 13th century and the 16th century. All the other works that were written after the year 1954 were based on this book. But its greatest flaw is that it presents a Marxist interpretation of history. In his opinion the appearance and the development of guilds had as an origin and driving force the fight between social classes but the same reason lead to their disappearance in the 19th century.

Two years later, having a starting point in Meşteşugurile în Transilvania, Şt. Pascu published an article which focused only on the economic relations between Transylvania and Moldavia during the reign of Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great). Following Şt. Pascu's example, R. Manolescu published Relaţiile economice între Ţara Românească şi Sibiu la începutul secolului al XVI-lea. Using the valuable documents given by P. P. Panaitescu, Gr. Tocilescu and S. Dragomir, R. Manolescu makes a more profound research of the import and the export of goods from Sibiu at the beginning of the 16th century. He makes use of the customs registers from the archives of Sibiu to draw a diagram of goods and their prices which is a real proof of the economic evolution of the guilds.

Developing Manolescu's idea S. Goldenberg publishes some new and incredible information concerning the customs of Sibiu in an article called Despre vama (vigessima) Sibiului în secolul al XVI-lea. He also presents the economic and commercial evolution of the main guilds in Cluj (information taken from the registers of goods) in his monographical work Clujul în secolul al XVI-lea. Producţia şi schimbul de mărfuri.

The year 1967 is very important for the Romanian historiography because Dinu C. Giurescu and A. Pănoiu publish Feronerie veche românească, a work concerning the guilds involved in the processing of iron. They did a good work but they presented only the main iron mines in the three Romanian regions. However their work together with Şt. Pascu's remain the only syntheses that give a general view on the Romanian guilds. A year later appears G. Nussbächer´s work entitled Statutele breslei arcarilor din Braşov. At that time it was the only book that presented  the statute of guild in detail. Taking into account the information given by G. Nussbächer's study, I. Bidianu published 2 articles in which he referred to the organisation and the role of guilds from Braşov between the 15th century and the 16th century. He only enumerates following Şt. Pascu's example without discussing each in detail. More general information about the guilds of armourers is given by M. Nistor in the article Producţia şi comerţul cu arme, clopote şi mojare în Braşov între sec. XV-XVIII. It is one of the few articles on trade, which was in fact quite flourishing between Braşov and the other regions. The work Die Bürger von Kronstadt im 14. und 15. Jahrhundert is important for the fact that it presents the economic and political activity of the craftsmen in Braşov and the guilds as well.

Another attempt to aproach in a more profound way the issue of the guilds of armourers was a catalogue, Arme în muzeele din România, published by C. Vlădescu, C. König and D. Popa. The book provides a whole history of arms and of the armourers and a great number of pictures with the parts found in the History and Military Museums from Romania. Unfortunately a number of compilations on the different military items and the guilds are brought together. In 1986 there appeared another work Istoria militară a poporului român, coordinated by Şt. Pascu. Its aim was to present the development of the armament and the Romanian military thinking  beginning with Burebista's reign and ending with the 19th century but it was a complete failure. The work has a sort of nationalist feeling it exaggerates emphasizing the idea of the unity of the Romanians and it does not bring anything new on the various types of military items.

These preoccupations of the military history had been before this appeared; so in the 1974-1975, P. Abrudan şi F. Szontag published the article Sistemul de apărare a cetăţii Sibiului în sec. XV-XVI. A work, written as a catalogue for exhibition, signed by E. Roman, offers to its readers information to a certain category of arms that is portable fire arms, found in the collection of the Brukenthal Museum. In addition, she also written an article Arme şi armuri în colecţia muzeului Brukenthal. Arme de foc portative. This article is very important as it mentions some of the pieces from Sibiu. Both works are unique in the local bibliography among the works that appeared in the last 20 years on this theme: the guilds from Sibiu.

And at least there appears in 1989 the work of Al. I. Gonţa, Relaţiile comerciale între Moldova şi Transilvania în perioada secolelor XIII-XVII. This last work is a synthesis concerning the commercial relations between the 3 regions in Romania. As we may well notice in both the Romanian and the German historiography, although there appeared a great number of syntheses concerning the guilds there are no works that focus on every guild in detail.