New Responsibilities and Losses, 1490s–1550s
Public and domestic expenses hit the company between 1485 and the 1550s, with increasing frequency. There was constant bickering between the city and its companies and Henry VII, Henry VIII and their ministers, with the former fighting a costly defence of civic liberties, and the latter determined that the city should not have full autonomy. Mercers also continued to attack Italians and their trade, and to incur royal displeasure on that score. Royal interference was on two main fronts. The authority of the city’s rulers was successfully disrupted and called into question, and serious damage was inflicted on several companies, by loss of patronage and reduction of fees. The damage incurred by the Mercers was only concealed by the sheer wealth of the company and individual mercers. Secondly, the crown slowly but surely backed the religious changes, which both inflicted further expense and brought some gain.