elementary schools created in Western European cities in the 13th and 14th centuries by merchant associations called guilds.
The church schools already in existence, which concentrated on religious instruction and church singing, were not satisfactory to the rising merchant class. In the guild schools arithmetic and the native language were much more effectively taught than in church schools; in some of the advanced guild schools, grammar, geometry, and the elements of rhetoric were also taught. The guild schools charged tuition and, as a rule, taught children of well-to-do parents. The Catholic Church was hostile to the guild schools, since their creation ended the church’s monopoly of education. With the decline of the guilds in the 15th and 16th centuries, the guild schools were transferred to the control of city governments.