The Guild Act, also known as the Guilds Act, was a legislative act that codified the practice of guilds throughout the Second Empire. Encouraged by Pelladil Direnni, and signed by Potentate Versidue-Shaie in 2E 321 the Guild Act officially sanctioned the guilds of Tinkers, Cobblers, Prostitutes, Scribes, Architects, Brewers, Vintners, Weavers, Ratcatchers, Furriers, Cooks, Astrologers, Healers, Tailors, Minstrels, Barristers, and most importantly the Guild of Mages, founded in 2E 230 by Vanus Galerion, and the Guild of Fighters, founded the previous year by the Potentate's kinsman Dinieras-Ves and chartered under the section 4 of the Guild Act.
The guilds were required to pay levies to the Empire and to pay for any expansions in exchange for protection and encouragement from the Empire, which saw the value these guilds had to the people of Tamriel. Later sanctions, some of them during the Third Empire, introduced new guilds into the fold. Overall these guilds were not only strengthened by the Guild Act, but strengthened the Empire in return, filling its much-emptied treasury.
The Mages Guild briefly had its charter revoked following the Soulburst of 2E 578, during which time the Fellowship of Anchorites was institutionalized in its place. Other Imperial guilds, such as the Mercenary Guild, Scenarist Guild, and infamous Thieves Guild, have no implied connections with the Guild Act.