This ruling class comprised only a part of the inhabitants, only the members of the merchant guild.
Thus the craft guild arose, not in antagonism to the merchant guild, but as a special agent of it.
The town guild has become a merchant guild, although composed of the same constituency.
By the end of the fourteenth century craft guilds were numerous, and in some places the merchant guild was superseded by them.
Many market places were dominated by a merchant guild, which had a monopoly of the local trade.
In practice the chief members of the merchant guild would usually be also the chief members of the Court-leet.
The earliest unmistakable mention of the merchant guild is at the end of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth century.
Henry I. granted the city certain customs, laws and liberties, and the right to have a merchant guild.