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Retail, Monopoly, and Privilege: the Dissolution of the Fishmongers' Guild of Venice, 1599

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In 1599, centuries of tradition came to an end when the Venetian fishmongers' guild was dissolved. In the late sixteenth century, the government had increasingly adopted a position that linked retailers to the crime of "monopoly," abusing their position at the expense of consumers. However, this simplistic conception of economic behavior proved disastrously misguided, and only a few years later the guild had to be restored. This humiliating reversal of government policy led to an important reappraisal of the role of retail guilds, and nothing similar would be attempted until the eighteenth century.


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Affiliations: 1: St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford


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