Guilds of Ankh-Morpork
History of Guilds
Ankh-Morpork has over 300 guilds.
Some guilds have been in existence for centuries, and some guilds are modern forms of ancient syndicates. The Patrician Lord Vetinari made the guilds register with the Patrician's Palace, and made them regulate their members' behaviors. For example, before the legalization of the guilds, thieves could rob and mug as many people for as many times as they, the thieves, liked, and the monetary gain may be high or low depending on luck or hard work; after legalization, the Thieves' Guild makes money mainly by having rich people pay an annual premium so that members of the guild do not have to break into people's houses and rob them. This and similar systems make life more predictable, and people, including the Thieves, have time to get on with their lives.
Guild enforcers police the behaviors of guild members and make working a privilege of guild members. This ensures two things: clients will get fully professional services, and guild members can charge a high price for their work. Guild enforcers have the right and indeed duty to catch and punish a working non-member; this kicks the City Watch out of a lot of its traditional jurisdiction (A cop will only catch you. What would, say, an Assassin do to a freelancer?). A Guildhouse and its grounds are considered private properties, and even in case of a suspected crime are not to be intruded by Watchmen. Many guilds take in orphans and train them up in guild schools, giving them skills for a career for life- the surnames (Clockson, Ludd) are a telling sign of this heritage. Some guilds, such as the Assassins' Guild, offer such a high-quality education that people pay for their children to be educated there. Many guilds hire their own physicians and run their own private hospitals for members.
Most Powerful Guilds
In Ankh-Morpork, citizens do not vote, and the Patrician is the absolute ruler; however, Lord Vetinari does hold meetings with civic leaders. During these meetings, the more powerful guilds appear to be:
- Assassins' Guild, leader Lord Downey
- Beggars' Guild, leader Queen Molly
- Fools' Guild, leader Dr. Whiteface
- Seamstresses' Guild, leader Mrs Rosemary Palm
- Thieves' Guild, leader Mr Boggis
- Guild of Merchants, leader; Current Grand Master is the greengrocer Antimony Parker.
Mr. Slant, president of the Guild of Lawyers, also has heavy influence on matters, but this is less because of the power of the members, and more because Slant himself personifies precedents and is terrifyingly good at finding precedents and loopholes.
Other guilds mentioned through the books include:
Until recently, Japanese police considered Yakuza gangs a necessary evil that helped keeping street crime down, under the motto: the only thing worse than organized crime is disorganized crime. Vetinari would approve.