chapter  1
30 Pages

Law in Early Modern France

Guild statutes granted widows the opportunity to continue running their husbands' commercial enterprises provided that they adhered to the rules of the trade, for the part those other masters promised to obey. This chapter explains that among widows of master artisans there would be some who already felt part of the guild, and had dealt with corporate authority, even before their husbands' deaths. A widow who could not directly perform tasks in the workshop needed to attract and keep trustworthy and talented workers, and part of achieving that goal was to give workers incentives to stay in the shop and perform well. While the widow might succeed as overseer of a workshop, she was not perhaps qualified, in her fellow masters' and journeymen's eyes, to take on the social identity her new role demanded, and make herself fit into the corporate schema of her new guild.