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154 Guilds Moving Between Traditional and Precapitalist Structures Guilds in the Eighteenth Century In the eighteenth century, some artisans confronted developments that were neither of their doing nor in their favor, but with which they had to live. Not all artisans were affected in the same way or to the same degree, nor were the strategies that they formulated uniform—quite the contrary. Yet one can trace certain trends among them. They were sometimes individual strategies and at other times collective strategies undertaken within the guild. As the mamluks tried to have a say in the way that the courts were run and to make economic encroachments, some artisans turned to their collective structure , the guild, for protection. They consolidated it and expanded it, often creating functions that were of a commercial nature and that brought revenues to the guild and its members. These strategies can be considered a manifestation of the penetration of commercialization into structures of a noncommercial nature. As it became more difficult for individual artisans to become entrepreneurs, and as the possibilities of social mobility retracted, some production was diverted from Cairo, turning to rural and provincial areas, where abuses from the ruling class and competition from European goods were less immediate. New Trends in the Mamluk Economy As discussed earlier, one challenge artisans had to face was mamluk attempts at encroachment. However, complete control of the political over the economic or by members of the mamluk power structure on production and trade was not possible in 1700, and such control ultimately remained limited for a number of reasons. First of all, the power structure at the top was decentralized. There Guilds | 155 were many mamluk households, and they were in constant competition with each other. Second, their power was often short-lived. Radwan Katkhuda Azaban al-Jalfi and Ibrahim Katkhuda Mustahfazan al-Qazdughli, for example, found common ground to cooperate with each other. This cooperation consequently opened an era of relative calm and peace between 1744 and 1755, but it unfortunately did not last much longer than their lifetimes. After their deaths, the competition between mamluks resumed. There were, moreover, too many rivalries between the various households, rivalries that the authorities in Istanbul often exploited in order to maintain a presence on the local scene. In addition to these political factors, we should also consider economic forces that shaped the picture. One of these factors was a greater spread of money and money relations. This theme has considerable interest for historians of the early-modern period because, on the one hand, we can make links between developments in regions that are otherwise dealt with separately and because, on the other hand, we can perceive certain consequences on different strata in society —in the present case, on artisans and guilds. The trend toward monetization that historians have explored in relation to India and Southeast Asia during the period from 1600 to 1800 was not limited to these regions. India was in fact the final destination of much of the money passing through the Ottoman Empire; the money was used to pay for Indian textiles. Frank Perlin’s research has shown a significant expansion of money use prior to the colonial period.1 There is ample evidence that the expansion in money use and money relations spread to Egypt, Anatolia, the Balkans, and possibly other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Rather than perceive this expansion as being specific to India and Southeast Asia, it can be considered as a consequence of a greater circulation of bullion and more intense worldwide trade. Money relations penetrated various noncommercial structures, among which were guilds, and artisans tried to manipulate this trend to fulfill certain objectives. As the eighteenth century progressed, new factors emerged to complicate the picture, creating new challenges for tradesmen and artisans. Egypt was being brought closer to European trading interests. This factor was eventually to lead to a greater economic penetration into the Egyptian economy, which we can roughly date to 1760, when Ali Bey al-Kabir became de facto ruler (1760–73). And in this trend, the ruling mamluk emirs, those whom Peter Gran found to have facilitated the passage from one empire to another, were to play a leading role.2 156 | Artisan Entrepreneurs in Cairo and Early-Modern Capitalism Mamluk emirs such as Radwan Katkhuda al-Jalfi and Ibrahim Katkhuda Mustahfazan had focused their commercial activity on the Red Sea trade. They had penetrated the economy by building alliances with Red Sea merchants and...


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