Ateliers > Apprentissage, Travail et Création dans l’Europe moderne

Apprentissage, Travail et Création dans l’Europe moderne 

Coordinatrices : Anna Bellavitis (U.Rouen-Normandie-GRHis/IUF), et Valentina Sapienza (U.Lille3-IRHIS)
                               Projet ANR/FNS GAWS (Garzoni. Apprenticeship Work Society)



Session 1  : vendredi 11h-12h30


« Présentation du Projet ANR/FNS : GAWS : Garzoni. Apprenticeship, Work, Society in Early Modern Venice »

Anna Bellavitis (U.Rouen-Normandie-GRHis/IUF),

Maud Ehrman (EPFL-Lausanne),

Frédéric Kaplan (EPFL-Lausanne),

Valentina Sapienza (U.Lille3-IRHIS),



Everyday life crafts : with or without the guilds


Apprentissages et langage professionnels du métier de barcarolo à Venise à l’époque moderne (XVIe-XVIIe siècles)

Robin Quillien (EHESS-CRH)


Passeurs de rives, les barcaruoli désignent l'ensemble des bateliers professionnels dont l'activité est résolument tournée au service de l'économie urbaine et de ses habitants. Toutefois, la catégorie générique barcaruoli renvoie à une myriade de métiers urbains distincts qui se côtoient dans l'espace public et se confondent dans les sources mais qui se caractérisent chacun par des champs de compétences et des institutions qui leurs sont propres. Il s’agira de s’interroger quant aux différentes formes que revêt l’apprentissage du métier, autrement-dit son caractère formel et informel, sa durée, ainsi que les dispositifs de contrôle qui sanctionnent le savoir-faire des barcaruoli. A travers l’exemple des barcaruoli travaillant sur les traghetti, stations à partir desquelles les habitants pouvaient rejoindre en gondole plusieurs endroits dans la ville, je souhaite monter l’absence d’un cadre normatif uniforme concernant l’apprentissage pouvant expliquer des voies d’accès concurrentes au métier de barcarolo. Si l’assemblée des membres d’un traghetto favorise en priorité l’accès aux fils de barcaruoli déjà inscrits, les hommes nouveaux maîtrisant l’art de la navigation sont régulièrement acceptés par leurs pairs. Fils de barcarolo, anciens gondoliers domestiques au service d’un maître, ou simples conducteurs de barques en tout genre, l’accès au métier de barcaruoli n’est donc pas réductible ni à une origine sociale ni à une origine géographique. Il s’agira donc à travers la question de l’apprentissage d’un métier, à la frontière de la domesticité et du monde des corporations, d’évoquer l’existence d’un langage professionnel commun à tous les bateliers travaillant sur les eaux de Venise.



Rural Artisan Apprenticeship without Guilds in the Early-Modern Finland

Merja Uotila (University of Jyväskylä)


The research on handicrafts in general has concentrated on study of urban artisans and guilds. However, not all artisans operated in towns nor did rural artisans always constitute small marginal groups. For instance, the majority of Finnish artisans lived and worked in the countryside. They had a legal right to take on apprentices, so most of the rural artisans received their training from artisans working in the countryside, although as a rule, only official parish artisans had apprentices. The terms of apprenticeship were defined in written or oral contracts, which were seldom contested in court. Apprentices were part of their masters’ households, where they not only learned the technical skills of the trade but were also socialized into it. This paper studies how rural artisans organized their occupational training without craft guilds, who did not operate in Finnish countryside. A single large Finnish parish has been selected as the object of the research from the beginning of the 18th century to the 1850’s. This permits us to study artisans and their apprentices more individually and systematically and to examine such details as durations of apprenticeship, completion rates, apprentices’ social backgrounds and age. Not all apprentices succeeded in creating an independent career as artisans, but with this individual approach it is possible to discover what the careers of these others were. It is also possible to identify practices and differences between trades and contemplate role of apprenticeship in the general economic development. The study is based on diverse source material including church records, tax rolls and other legal and administrative documents.



The apprenticeship in bread production in Barcelona

Mercè Renom (Universitat de Barcelona/ TIG)


The complexity of apprenticeship in early modern Europe needs of case studies to understand the numerous varieties on conditions and relationship (Bellavitis, 2016, Ariadne Schmidt, Clare Crowston, 2008, Àngels Solà, 2006). Among the preindustrial works, sectoral services and specifically the production and distribution of bread in the cities has been studied less than others, although it was a basic activity associated to the commerce of cereals and strictly controlled by the municipal administrations. Among the studies devoted mainly to the medieval period (Braudel, 1981), we should highlight those dedicated to Paris (Stephen Kaplan, 1982 to 1996), but there are also approaches to cities like London or Kent (Carolyn Steel, 2013, Eileen White, Ed., 2000, Campbell et al., 1993). As for Barcelona, some researchers have studied the supply of cereals and productions of bread (Antoni Riera Gaspar Feliu, Juanjo Càceres), but these issues still need to be deepened, taking into account the organization of the work of bakers, and analysing the specific pathways of transmission of knowledge and skills from one generation to another. From the documentation of the guilds and of the municipal administration my aim is to approach to the forms of work organization in the factories of production of bread in Barcelona and the kind of relations with apprenticeship in them. I also wish to understand changes that takes place in the transition between times when guilds controlled the work and the new framework of freedom in production and contracts.



Session 2 : Vendredi 3 novembre, 14h-15h30

The case of London


Apprenticeship from the master’s perspective

 Patrick Wallis (London School of Economics), 


Apprenticeship was an exchange of work for training, broadly speaking. Yet most research on early modern training has focused on one party: the apprentice. The recent wave of quantitative studies of apprenticeship, in particular, tend to tell us much about those who trained, but little about their masters. My own work is no exception to this. But to understand apprenticeship as a system of education, training and economic reproduction, we also need to understand why masters took apprentices. Was training ubiquitous, with an apprentice a normal (perhaps necessary)  part of all workshops? Or was it differentiated, with some masters developing a training specialty, as De Kerf has recently argued, while others were using apprentices as an expansive and cheap labour force? Clearly we should expect to find multiple models of mastership, that reflect processes of production, trends in industrial concentration, the impact of civic and guild regulation, and other factors. Moreover, each model will affect the conditions and opportunities that apprentices faced. Were they in demand? Could they access the largest and most skilled workshops, or were most forced to train with marginal masters? How much experience of training did most masters have when they set out to employ and instruct them? In this paper, we examine patterns of training using large datasets from several English towns in the sixteenth to early nineteenth centuries, focusing on masters for whom we have been able to reconstruct their training ‘careers’. We address a series of fundamental questions about training (which masters took apprentices? How many? When?) and link them to trades and lifecycles to offer an analysis that emphasises the relative concentration of training and suggests some preliminary answers to the question: why train?


Her freedom by service’: women and apprenticeship in early modern London

Claire Benson (University of York),

Apprenticeship was the gateway to citizenship in early modern London. It has been estimated that three-quarters of male householders became freemen in sixteenth-century London, and at least 90 per cent of male citizens acquired the freedom through apprenticeship. Historians have measured women’s participation in apprenticeships by quantifying the sex of the apprentice in guild records. Unsurprisingly, this method draws a bleak picture: evidence drawn from 57 companies in the seventeenth century found roughly 1000 female apprentices, or 1 per cent. As such, historians have concluded that women did not enter into apprenticeships for the same reasons as their male peers, and for the most part, completed domestic chores under the guise of craft training. This viewpoint maintains that women entered into apprenticeships to learn and/or teach skills that could be easily transferred to the domestic sphere upon marriage, and that women’s public role was little more than an adjunct of household tasks. Departing from previous scholarship, this paper draws out the links between women’s participation in apprenticeships and the culture of citizenship in London. Dissolution petitions in the Lord Mayor’s Court offer new evidence regarding the different types of guild occupations women entered into, their economic motivations as apprentices, and their agency as mistresses in the ‘male’ domain of civic politics. Looking at the language of these documents for the first time, this paper diverges from the dichotomy of public/masculine and private/feminine to argue that women visibly participated as mistresses and guardians in the culture of citizenship, and more significantly, entered into apprenticeships to become freewomen of London. Their ability to deploy a range of civic rhetorics in apprenticeship petitions for political and economic purposes demonstrates a degree of agency in matters concerning citizenship—often appropriating the very language meant to exclude them.



The training of clerks in early modern London

Jennifer Bishop (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge)

Each guild in early modern London had a clerk. Clerks were responsible for keeping all of the company’s written records and accounts books, and for drawing up formal documents such as apprenticeship indentures, leases, and bonds. As writers working within the guild system, clerks represent a bridge between artisanal and literate culture; and their careers can highlight the connections between standard guild apprenticeships and other forms of learning and training in this period. My paper presents a brief overview of the skills that were required and exhibited by clerks, before discussing the various pathways through which they could be trained and qualified for their roles. These methods of training usually included some combination of apprenticeship, experience as an assistant or ‘under-clerk’ in a guild or another institution, and a background either in the law or a university education. Through tracing the career paths of clerks, we are able to uncover systems of skill-transfer that existed within the corporate system yet were either informal or not openly acknowledged; and we are able to see some of the links between guilds and other institutions in the early modern city. As we follow clerks moving through their training, we can see the complex networks of patronage, friendship, and occupational identity that both overlapped with, and expand upon, the traditional model of master-apprentice relationships with which we are familiar.



‘A Lyon Lurketh in the Way’ : The Apprentices of London, the Caroline Public Sphere, and the Emergence of a Political Force

Drew Heverin (University of Kentucky)


Throughout the early 1640s, as the rest of the nation prepared itself for an inevitable clash between Charles I and Parliament, the apprentices of London decided to enter the public sphere and make themselves heard. In a series of short pamphlets, parliamentary petitions and biased ballads, a cohort of the riotous youth of London’s guilds positioned themselves as a significant voice in any debate about the future of the city and nation. On the eve of civil war, these citizens-in-training leveraged their role as partisan combatants to emerge as more than a subordinated and marginalized group of young men with little (other than their labor) to offer the greater community. Building off of a larger project on the emergence of an apprentice counterpublic in early modern London, this paper will investigate how a series of statements and counterstatements in the later Caroline period allowed this cohort of prentices to finally join the larger public sphere from which they had been excluded. The discussion will focus primarily on a contrastive analysis of three petitions that purport to speak for the apprentices, published between 1640-1642, and two ballads that sought to enlist factional support from the apprentices in alehouses throughout the city (“An Exhortation” 1643 and “Round, Boys, Indeed” 1640). These documents, while each relatively short, reveal the ways in which the prentices of London engaged with both the rhetorical public sphere of the early modern period in order to change the conversation about labor and the marketplace in Caroline London.



Session 3 : Vendredi 3 novembre, 16h-17h30

Innovation, urban economy and guilds


Forms of guild and non-guild training in early-modern Madrid

José Antolín Nieto Sánchez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)


In early-modern Madrid, artisan apprenticeship contracts could be settled either orally or formalized by a notary. In either way, the master and the apprentice's representative established the conditions of the apprentice's service, which both parties obliged themselves to comply with. Apprenticeship contracts were formally similar in guild and non-guild or “free” trades. A sample of 4,500 indenture contracts, gathered from Madrid's Historical Archive of Notary Records, is the empirical base we use in this paper in order to examine the similarities and differences that can be traced between guild and non-guild trades, specifically in relation to the duration of the apprentice's service, age of entry, birth-place, parentage, etc. It is also the object of this paper to examine the politics implemented by the governments of the second half of the eighteenth century aimed at reforming guild apprenticeship and creating a number of alternative apprenticeship channels for both boys and girls. Some of these state-sponsored alternatives were mediated by charity schemes (in hospices, orphanages and schools established in the barrios of the city), while others focused on Royal Academies of Arts


Female Enskilment: York's Labouring Women in Eighteenth-Century Guilds.

Amy Creighton (University of York), 


Within the history of guilds and apprenticeships in England, S. D. Smith’s found a direct correlation between the admittance of women into the York Merchant Tailors’ and its survival. Smith states that: ‘Outside York, the failure to regulate women mantua-makers effectively was a contributory cause of company decline; within York, the eventual demise of the tailor’s trading privileges can also be linked to the decline of female admissions’.[1] The implications for this are multiple: in one aspect it indicates that women were carrying out trades, whether regulated or not; on the other hand, it argues that the acceptance of tradeswomen bolstered the success of a company. Using York as a micro-history, and in particular the merchant tailors and freemen of the city, this paper will expand upon Smith’s theory that women’s involvement in and access to apprenticeships of certain trades influenced their economic success. In York women made up 28 per cent of the apprentices from 1660-1759, with dramatic increases in the eighteenth century. Furthermore, they made up 35 per cent of the masters taking on apprentices from 1704-1776. This paper will use these women and the traces they left behind to explore the ways in which gender and apprenticeship intertwined. Cultural expectations of what skills each gender could and should possess affected the sexes’ role in the labour market. By examining these expectations I will explore the way in which formally acquiring skills through apprenticeship related to both women’s and trades’ successes. With apprenticeship as a frame, this paper will pair labour history with gender history in order to deepen our understanding of the history skill.



L’apprentissage à Rouen au cours de l’époque moderne

Alexandra Amiot (Université de Rouen Normandie)


Au cours de l’époque moderne, la majeure partie des activités professionnelles exercées dans la ville de Rouen sont organisées en communauté de métier. Depuis le début du XVIe siècle, les autorités rouennaises se sont efforcées de renforcer l’éducation des enfants en créant le métier des maîtres-écrivains, en ouvrant des écoles gratuites, accessibles aux garçons et aux filles, dans chaque quartier de la ville. Cette action se poursuit tout au long du XVIIe et du XVIIIe siècle par l’installation de couvents et de congrégations spécialisés dans l’enseignement. Cependant, Rouen est avant tout une ville marchande, régie par le commerce et les communautés de métier. Ainsi, l’apprentissage d’un savoir-faire demeure l’étape la plus importante, voire la seule, du parcours formateur des enfants. Dans les métiers, la transmission du savoir-faire est donc une notion fondamentale, désignée sous le terme générique « d’apprentissage », dont les règlements et les statuts des communautés ne montrent qu’une vision idéalisée de cet enseignement technique. En effet, on peut dénombrer trois types de formation professionnelle, établis en fonction de l’origine sociale de l’enfant. Les « enfants du métier », ces fils ou filles de maîtres et/ou de maîtresses, ont l’avantage d’avoir grandi auprès de leurs parents et des affaires familiales. Dès leur plus jeune âge, ils sont immergés dans la communauté et familiarisés aux techniques du métier. Le deuxième type d’apprentissage désigne celui reçu par des enfants dont les familles sont extérieures au métier, et qui ont les moyens de payer la formation. Au terme de leur apprentissage, ces aspirants doivent passer un examen, le chef-d’œuvre, dont sont dispensés les enfants du métier. Enfin, le troisième type d’apprentissage désigne la formation reçue par les enfants pauvres, placés par le Bureau des Pauvres Valides, qui s’apparente davantage à un service domestique.



Apprenticeship as a requirement to maintain and improve technical knowledge. Barcelona 1760-1840

Àngels Solà, (Université de Barcelone)


Although not all guilds and crafts of Catalonia registered apprenticeship contracts with notaries, none local institution controlled boy’s and girl’s apprenticeship, and a lot of guild’s documentation has been lost, notarial sources allow us to know different aspects of apprenticeship –almost all male apprentices. Our purpose is to defend the idea that guilds were necessary to maintain technical knowledge in spite that a lot of young men learnt their craft in their father’s workshops. We also will consider the habit to send son’s masters to learn the family craft to another workshop and another town in some economic sector. We will study this questions looking at two different towns and economies: Barcelona and Berga. The last one, located in a mountain emplacement with textile tradition, gave birth to the "bergadana", a cotton spinning machine that improved the technical principles of the jennies that arrived there some years before (1780s





Session 4 : Samedi 4 novembre, 9h-11h

Art and artistic  crafts


L'existence d'un atelier d'enluminures dirigé par Jean Fouquet : un regard sur la production des disciples

Samuel Gras (université de Lille)


La présence d’enlumineurs venus commencer ou parfaire leur formation auprès de Jean Fouquet à Tours supposerait l’existence d’un atelier où des artistes se seraient placés sous la gouverne plus ou moins directe du maître. Ce constat soulève l’épineux problème de l’organisation et de la forme prises par les ateliers d’enlumineurs dans la vallée de la Loire dans le troisième quart du XVe siècle, et plus précisément à Tours, au moment où la carrière de Jean Fouquet est à son sommet. Je présenterai plusieurs témoignages artistiques qui certifient de la présence de peintres formés par Jean Fouquet. Ce point permettra notamment d’aborder la manière dont les disciples ont tiré profit de la peinture et des savoir-faire du génie tourangeau. Pour aborder cette question, nous nous pencherons également sur la terminologie utilisée à l’époque dans la relation entre maîtres et disciples.



The painter’s apprentice in 16th century Antwerp. A study of the archival and iconographical sources

Natasja Peeters (War Heritage Institute, Brussels)


This contribution will study the painter’s apprentice in Antwerp during the 16th century from a normative, quantitative and iconographic point of view. First, the statutes of the guild of Saint Luke, which are party preserved and published, are analyzed with regard to the do’s and don’ts of the apprentice. Second, extensive past quantitative research of the membership lists of the Antwerp guild of Saint Luke by the author sheds light on the number and mobility of apprentices, and the accessibility of the profession –at least, those that were inscribed as a member in the official lists of the guild of Saint Luke. Some 42 % of the apprentices belonged to the figurative painters’ métier. It will also study the master’s son as a particular category: from 1543 onwards, they were also inscribed in the membership lists. By analyzing these lists of free master painters and their apprentices, some ideas can furthermore be put forward as to the number of workshops, their size and structure, as food for thought and future research. Third, iconographical sources are scrutinized with regard to the presence of apprentices. Prosopography and images are supplemented by Van Mander’s biography and other archival sources of a more personal nature, such as alderman’s records, notaries’ briefs and contracts so as to present a fascinating picture about the world of the Antwerp painter’s apprentice.


Le premier atelier du Louvre réservé aux femmes : l’atelier de Virginia da Vezzo (1606-1638)

Perrine Vigroux (Université Paul-Valéry de Montpellier)


Dès 1610, en France, dans un contexte de tensions religieuses, le Pape Paul V et le roi Henri IV encouragent la création de maisons religieuses féminines où la pratique artistique participe à la réaffirmation de la puissance de la religion catholique. Autre lieu d’apprentissage féminin : la corporation dans laquelle les apprenties jouent le rôle d’assistantes mais leur production reste trop souvent mêlée et confondue avec celle du maître, leur père ou leur mari. Au tournant de l’année 1630, un nouveau lieu d’enseignement artistique réservé aux femmes voit le jour à Paris et révolutionne la manière de concevoir l’apprentissage : l’atelier officiel.

Lors de son séjour à Rome, Simon Vouet rencontre Virginia da Vezzo. En formant sa future épouse, le peintre perçoit alors la difficulté des femmes nobles pour s’initier au dessin et à la peinture, hors du circuit traditionnel des cours particuliers. De retour à Paris, l’artiste propose à Virginia, récemment admise à l’Accademia di San Luca de Rome, d’ouvrir un atelier réservé aux femmes. Comment l’épouse de Simon Vouet, Virginia da Vezzo, parvient-elle à imposer un nouveau modèle de formation artistique au Louvre ? Virginia da Vezzo rejette les modèles traditionnels d’apprentissage féminin et propose une nouvelle forme d’enseignement artistique, ni soumis aux volontés religieuses, ni aux ambitions économiques, l’atelier est pensé comme un lieu d’éducation mais aussi d’émancipation, les élèves peuvent signer leurs œuvres et ne sont plus obligés d’appartenir au milieu artistique pour pratiquer la peinture.



L’apprentissage au métier de doreur à Barcelone (1650-1834)

Julien Lugand (université de Perpignan)


Les riches fonds d’archives conservés à Barcelone – archives notariales, municipales, diocésaines et juridiques –, permettent de reconstituer assez précisément les conditions de l’apprentissage au métier de doreur sur un temps long – de la création d’une confrérie des doreurs en 1650 jusqu’à sa refonte complète dans le contexte de la révolution industrielle et des premières lois libérales en 1834. Ce corpus de sources est certes hétérogène par sa nature car il s’agit de statuts réglementaires, de contrats d’apprentissages, de délibérations de la confrérie ou encore de procès. Mais il donne une vision éclairante de cette étape de la formation permettant notamment d’étudier : les règles imposées aux apprentis (durée, interdiction d’interrompre la formation ou de changer d’atelier) et aux maîtres (obligation de déclarer les apprentis, de délivrer un brevet) ; les formes d’engagement – transmission familiale, contrat notarié, accord verbal ; enfin et surtout la notion de rentabilité, que la législation tente de limiter – en empêchant par exemple les maîtres d’avoir plusieurs apprentis –, et qui reste l’intérêt revendiqué des maîtres lors de cette embauche, bien plus que la transmission d’un savoir, que la confrontation des sources ne permet pas de reconstituer précisément


Final discussion


[1] S. D. Smith, ‘Women’s Admission to Guilds in Early-Modern England: The Case of the York Merchant Tailors’ Company, 1693-1776’ in Gender & History, vol. 17, no. 1 (April, 2005), 122.







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