Alternate History

Guilds (Widget)

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A series of sub-organizations in the British Government responsible for managing various portions of the Empire. There are sixteen Guilds, headed by the four Service Guilds, which manage the others, make constitutional changes if necessary, and agree on a solution where there are disputes. Although theoretically aside from these specific powers, the Guilds (Service or otherwise) are intended to be equal, Service Guilds have in recent times gained a much more significant amount of power than the other Guilds in what has been known as the Centralization of Responsibilities.


Through the 1850s and early 60s, the British Queen Victoria underwent a huge drop in popularity, to the extent that many began to call for her abdication. In recognition that the loss of the Monarch would have significant consequences for the Empire (in particular, a lack of resilience and a weak image of the British Government displayed to other world powers), the Queen worked with Cabinet to try and formulate a solution. The result was the idea of duplicating each and every responsibility that she had, and giving it to another authority, who could carry out this role. As a result, although she would still theoretically have the power, the responsibility would be on the Guilds rather than her for any decisions made. Instead, she could be a symbol of the Empire without fear of blame.

The Guilds project was started in 1864 with only three initially, the Workers Guild, the Traders Guild, and the Gentleman's Guild. Their aim was simply to represent each area of the population, not only in Britain but all across the growing Empire. In fact, the Guilds were an immediate success. They were immediately called upon by swathes of people calling for their opinion to be heard, for investment, to expand trade, and it soon became apparent, since they were clearly addressing a number of previously unknown underlying issues, that the Guilds were grossly underfunded and understaffed.

After popular request, Parliament began to give the Guilds many more powers, so that they could continue their good work without requiring constant permission to act from the Government. As a result, huge successes by the Guilds followed. It was rapidly understood that this was a concept that needed to be expanded. In 1867 seven more Guilds were founded, each with varying aims depending on the needs discovered at the beginning of the project. Although the leadership of the groups was chosen by process of interview and not democratically, the Guilds were widely considered to be fair and representative of the population, which was one particular reason that people were happy to cooperate so freely with them, which in turn produced more successes.

Following attempts by the Liberal party to pass a number of Equal Suffrage bills to pass through Parliament, Prime Minister Disraeli began to search for other ways to maintain Conservative leadership, well aware that the bills would vastly increase Liberal support and very possibly put him permanently out of power. Disraeli managed to pass an act moving a large amount of power from the elected House of Commons, where the Liberals were slowly gaining, to the Guilds. This had the effect of making the House of Lords, dominated by the Conservatives, marginally the more powerful house. For the Guilds, this was a breakthrough.

Over the next twenty years the Guilds continued to expand. A further six Guilds were formed to address new issues and to represent new sectors of the population. The three original guilds were given the role of Service Guilds, which would have authority over the others to resolve disputes. In 1879, the Observers Guild filed a request to the Services to become a fourth member of that committee, based on the fact that the Observers themselves had grown as large, if not larger, than the three original members.

List of Guilds

Below is a list of the sixteen Guilds that are currently functional, as of 1901. Service Guilds are written in bold.

  • Chemists Guild
  • Christians Guild
  • Commerce Guild
  • Culture Guild
  • Documents Guild
  • Entrepreneurs Guild
  • Eugenicists Guild
  • Gentleman's Guild
  • Industrialists Guild
  • Inventors Guild
  • Liberty Guild
  • Medicine Guild
  • Military Guild
  • Observers Guild
  • Traders Guild
  • Workers Guild

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