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Apprentices and Apprenticeship in Early Fourteenth-Century London
By Thomas Lombardi
Master’s Thesis, Fordham University, 1997
Introduction: As early as 1275, apprenticeship was defined as one of three ways to obtain the freedom of the city of London which conferred various legal and economic privileges. In the early fourteenth century, twenty-seven percent of London’s citizens obtained the city’s freedom via apprenticeship. The institution of apprenticeship grew stronger during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries so that by the sixteenth century almost ninety percent of all London freeman entered by apprenticeship. What was the nature of the medieval institution which in the early modern period became such a prominent feature of London life?
Despite the obvious importance of the later development of this institution, the formative period of medieval apprenticeship has been little studied. A.H. Thomas treated the subject in 1929, in the introduction to his edition of the Calendar of Plea and Memoranda Rolls while both Thrupp and more recently Hanawalt have also made important contributions. Other than these studies and a few brief discussions of the subject found in more general works about London, there has been little written about medieval London apprentices. The major purpose of this study is to address this gap in medieval London historiography by focusing on the social, economic, and political roles of apprentices and apprenticeship in medieval London.