chapter  10
40 Pages

‘All merchandise shall have its course and merchants to have their communication each with other’: Trade, 1430s–85

The subject of this chapter continues the story of the mercers’ success as adventurers in the fifteenth century. The political background to their cross-Channel trade has been described, as well as the internal battle for dominance within the Adventurers up to 1485 (Chapter 9). Before continuing that story past 1485, it remains to draw attention to the trade relationship between mercers and the men of Cologne over linen, other merceries and English cloth, and to record the mercers’ export of these items in terms of numbers and value from the customs accounts. These figures are the proof of the mercers’ domination of the adventurers’ trade to the Low Countries. Finally, some details must be given of the skills displayed by mercers in overseas trade, whether their use of factors or diplomats, or the organization of shipping and a campaign against the tax of poundage.