For a rent-seeking organization that excluded competitors, fleeced customers, and underpaid suppliers, the European guilds have been staunchly defended by economists and economic historians—so much so that a pro-guild “orthodoxy” had emerged by the mid-2000s. The debate over whether these institutions were actually efficient solutions to market failures is a fun one, but alas, the evidence remains mostly anti-guild.
I was surprised that discussion did not go back into regional differences in reaction to the peasants' revolts of the late 14th and 15th century. I do not think it is totally implausible that peasant unrest in different regions created new political conditions that lasted into the 17th century. My fuzzy, squints-his-eyes, hypothesis would combine the network town view with a function of successful peasant revolts. Denser regions with more peasant power wound up with weaker guilds.
The labor revolts of in England, the Wat Tyler revolt, etc. meant that the guilds would be weaker (although they were apparently still strong enough to drive immigration to the Colonies, cf Franklin's ancestors?), while the peasant revolts in east resulted in harsher serfdom and deeper rent seeking?
I don't have the research knowledge to tie together the relationship between peasantry and guild status, though. How would a freer peasantry affect the guild system?