Guilds of German Bakers of St Petersburg in the First Half of the 19th Century: Conflict Resolution Practices and Everyday Life




St Petersburg in the first half of the nineteenth century, Russian and German guilds, German bakers, trade conflicts, everyday life


Referring to materials from the Russian State Historical Archive and the Central State Historical Archive of St Petersburg, this article investigates mechanisms of competition and resolving conflicts between tradesmen in St Petersburg and the level of German masters’ adaptation to a new cultural and social environment. It reveals an opportunity to reach a deeper understanding of bread production in the capital over a long period of time. Competitive confrontations between guilds reflect not only the negative aspects of monopolistic tendencies among trade masters, but also the vitality of St Petersburg trades. This manifested itself in constant rivalry among the guilds of Russian and German bread makers, confectioners, pretzel bakers, roll makers, and non-guild pastry makers. The intensive competition could increase or decrease due to national, confessional, cultural, and territorial factors. The 1830s and 1840s were the last period of this open competition: after, all such guilds were united into a single organisation. The author provides a periodisation that conditionally reflects the fundamental stages in the development of the guilds: 1721–1785 (their establishment), 1785–1840s (their flourishing), and the 1850s–1870s (unification and standardisation with new regulations). The struggle for the partial monopolisation of market segments in the 1830s and 1840s pointed to the need for clearer structures. The prosperity, entrepreneurship, and influence of German bakers manifested themselves in the black-market sale of a certain type of securities: bakery certificates whose price could reach 12,000 paper roubles. Bread production in St Petersburg can be used as a positive example of an institution that underwent a century-long cycle of modernisation characteristic of an immobile and conservative society. This cycle of modernisation was based on a catch-up model of development and contributed to dynamic innovation (the introduction of mechanical dough mixers from Germany). The author puts forward a hypothesis that the increase in stiff competition pointed to the limits of the market and thus the limits of growth: production volume could no longer grow arbitrarily, which meant that access to guilds became more restricted.

Author Biography

Andrei Keller

Dr. Hab. (History), Senior Researcher, Laboratory for the Study of Primary Sources, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-9086-1079


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How to Cite

Keller, A. (2021). Guilds of German Bakers of St Petersburg in the First Half of the 19th Century: Conflict Resolution Practices and Everyday Life. Quaestio Rossica, 9(3), 797–812.



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