The education of new generations and the transmission of knowledge and skills from one generation to another is of course the fundament of any society, at any time. Recent historical researches have underlined the complexity of apprenticeship in early modern Europe and also its numerous varieties: apprentices could learn at home, with their parents and relatives, with the master or mistress and his/her family, or in charitable institutions.
The topic of apprenticeship is, by its own nature, transversal and needs multidisciplinary analysis. Labour history, history of the techniques, of innovation and artistic creation, history of education and gender and family history are some of the approaches that can be used for a comprehensive study of apprenticeship in early modern Europe. Some questions that can guide our analysis:
Apprenticeship and guilds: is it a necessary link?
Places of apprenticeship: family home, the master’s – or mistress’ – house and workshop, charitable institutions?
Which knowledge and skills were transmitted to apprentices?
What was the relation between apprenticeship and innovation?
What kind of relations could exist – or had to exist – between masters, mistresses and apprentices?
Was apprenticeship a work relation or a mode of education?
Who could have access to apprenticeship?
What happened to apprentices after the end of the apprenticeship period?
What was the role of apprenticeship in the general economic evolution of early modern Europe and in the « little divergence » ?