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Credit and Trade in Later Medieval England, 1353-1532London: The Commercial Powerhouse

Credit and Trade in Later Medieval England, 1353-1532: London: The Commercial Powerhouse [Caroline Baron’s introduction to her ‘London 1300–1540’ chapter in the Cambridge Urban History is the key to understanding changes in the availability of Staple credit in later medieval England. She describes London’s unique position in the later Middle Ages as follows: ‘By the early fourteenth century London was pre-eminent among English urban communities. Whether ranked according to wealth or according to population, its pre-eminence was undisputed. Although London was larger, more populous and wealthier than other English towns, it was distinguished from them not only by size and volume: it developed, in the period covered here, characteristics that were distinctive. London was different not only in scale, but also in kind.’ Much of the foregoing analysis has suggested that the availability of high-value credit, or trade finance, declined in some areas of England and expanded in others over the course of the fifteenth century. Furthermore, the implicit assumption is that London took over as the principal centre for obtaining trade finance in the later Middle Ages, at the expense of these provincial centres. Indeed, Kermode, in her classic work on credit in Yorkshire in the fifteenth century, identifies the increasingly aggressive expansion of London’s merchants into Yorkshire combined with the Yorkshire merchants’ increasing indebtedness to Londoners, contracting northern trade and falling rents—the traditional source of collateral for debts—and a resulting southerly drift of Yorkshire merchants who began to set up businesses in London in the quest for the financial security offered by the capital as key to understanding economic contraction in the region. In terms of competition for trade, London played a central role in the waning fortunes of many provincial towns. The encroachment by Londoners into provincial trade is seen as a factor in the decline of other centres such as Bristol and Boston. Wendy Childs similarly suggests that, even in the worst periods of recession and bullion famine in the 1450s, credit continued to be extended to aliens. However, rather than the lenders being provincial merchants extending credit from their home ports, as had been the case in the past, this alien lending was undertaken from the mid-fifteenth century predominantly by Londoners. Once again this implicitly suggests that there was increased financial security to be found in the capital. Similarly, Derek Keene has chronicled the increasing commercial reach of Londoners into the rest of England from c. 1300, particularly as lenders, in his study of debt cases in the Court of Common Pleas.] http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

Credit and Trade in Later Medieval England, 1353-1532London: The Commercial Powerhouse

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Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
ISBN
978-1-137-48985-2
Pages
195 –242
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-48987-6_5
Publisher site
See Chapter on Publisher Site

Abstract

[Caroline Baron’s introduction to her ‘London 1300–1540’ chapter in the Cambridge Urban History is the key to understanding changes in the availability of Staple credit in later medieval England. She describes London’s unique position in the later Middle Ages as follows: ‘By the early fourteenth century London was pre-eminent among English urban communities. Whether ranked according to wealth or according to population, its pre-eminence was undisputed. Although London was larger, more populous and wealthier than other English towns, it was distinguished from them not only by size and volume: it developed, in the period covered here, characteristics that were distinctive. London was different not only in scale, but also in kind.’ Much of the foregoing analysis has suggested that the availability of high-value credit, or trade finance, declined in some areas of England and expanded in others over the course of the fifteenth century. Furthermore, the implicit assumption is that London took over as the principal centre for obtaining trade finance in the later Middle Ages, at the expense of these provincial centres. Indeed, Kermode, in her classic work on credit in Yorkshire in the fifteenth century, identifies the increasingly aggressive expansion of London’s merchants into Yorkshire combined with the Yorkshire merchants’ increasing indebtedness to Londoners, contracting northern trade and falling rents—the traditional source of collateral for debts—and a resulting southerly drift of Yorkshire merchants who began to set up businesses in London in the quest for the financial security offered by the capital as key to understanding economic contraction in the region. In terms of competition for trade, London played a central role in the waning fortunes of many provincial towns. The encroachment by Londoners into provincial trade is seen as a factor in the decline of other centres such as Bristol and Boston. Wendy Childs similarly suggests that, even in the worst periods of recession and bullion famine in the 1450s, credit continued to be extended to aliens. However, rather than the lenders being provincial merchants extending credit from their home ports, as had been the case in the past, this alien lending was undertaken from the mid-fifteenth century predominantly by Londoners. Once again this implicitly suggests that there was increased financial security to be found in the capital. Similarly, Derek Keene has chronicled the increasing commercial reach of Londoners into the rest of England from c. 1300, particularly as lenders, in his study of debt cases in the Court of Common Pleas.]

Published: Jun 22, 2016

Keywords: Fifteenth Century; Fourteenth Century; Trade Finance; Home County; Provincial Town

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