chapter  5
34 Pages

The Company and the City 1348–94: From the Black Death to the First Charter

How did the mercers of London cope with the Black Death, which destroyed between a half and a third of the population, and how did the company manage to recover its numbers and continue to grow and flourish in the following fifty years? The only records to survive for the company between 1349 and 1390 are ordinances of 1376. These show the influential men of the company firmly ensconced in overseas trade and determinedly set against the activities of mercers who needed to travel to provincial markets. They wanted their goods to pass to all levels of society but via the medium of provincial dealers who came to London for them. From 1390-91 when accounts survive, an assessment can be made of the financial strength of the company.