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gremio

any of the organized guilds that were founded during the Moorish occupation of Portugal (714-1249) by men who worked in the same craft and who generally lived on the same street in a given city. Each guild selected a patron saint, usually one who had shared its profession, and designed a banner with the saint depicted on it. For this reason, guilds were popularly known as bandeiras ("banners"). In the 15th century, with the development of overseas trades, the autonomous guilds became more closely linked to the royal provincial governments and councils

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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