29th February 2020

I anticipate loyalty and service, nothing more and decidedly nothing less. To fail in one is painful, to fail in both is catastrophic and almost without exception beyond any hope of repair.

Both qualities are presently considered quaint and outmoded, remnants of a time long past and better forgot. Times when individuals were still willing to put much before themselves, when silence was more common than gossip, respect for privacy dwarfed outrage, a castles walls could remain unbreeched and unsullied by alien inspection and judgement.  These qualities antecedent honor is yet another ancient and misused word. Honor is now a matter for those often considered without honor, those who exist upon the fringes of society, who’s close-knit inter relationships are oft all that keep them from betrayal, prosecution and punishment.

The expression ‘honor amongst thieves’ has a noble past, a history distancing back to times when the court of thieves has as much power and influence as the court of kings, when good and evil, sanctity and sin, aristocrat and beggar were codependent on each other for balance, purpose and existence.

The court of thieves represented what would have been considered one of the most important of the professional fellowships, regulating the underbelly of any nation. Without the services of modern legal and policing organizations it was the thieves court and its many subsidiary guilds than ensured some form of stability in what otherwise would have rapidly descended into anarchy.

Guilds were a highpoint of medieval organization. Gatherings of the like, self-governing, self-disciplining, providing quality control, ensuring adequate skill retention and future development. A central body to which a professional, theoretical or even intellectual task could be passed for experienced and timely completion. Such guilds apprenticeship systems ensured the existence of a suitable skill level within the very specific area of the organizations area of expertise.

Apprenticeships are now largely defunct, replaced by institutional learning. The concept of a child being sold or leased to a guild for unpaid training over a large number of years would now be considered at worst slavery, at best indentured service. Well remembered victims of this form of enforced and often harsh education would be Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci and Jacopo Comin.

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