The Anti-Semitic Politics of Medieval Trade Guilds


The barring of Jews from guilds (established by shopkeepers to protect against competition) made it impossible for Jews to have storefronts. This exclusion prolonged the history of the traveling Jewish trader who peddled goods door to door from a knapsack or wagon. “Protected” Jews though, made enough of an income to set up homes and continue their livelihoods as clerks for the municipalities. You will see the same pattern when Jews came to America. If the stories of your ancestor are that he sold goods out of a wagon, it could be that the family had survived through the decades and perhaps centuries, dependent upon that livelihood.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:

Secret Genealogy II:

Secret Genealogy III:

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