Alien Merchants in England, 1350 to 1377, Their Legal and Economic Position

Alien Merchants in England, 1350 to 1377, Their Legal and Economic Position

Alien Merchants in England, 1350 to 1377, Their Legal and Economic Position

Alien Merchants in England, 1350 to 1377, Their Legal and Economic Position

Excerpt

All discussions of English mediaeval commerce emphasize the important economic functions of alien merchants. Among these foreign traders, the Lombards, because of their financial preëminence, have been given special attention. The more exclusively mercantile activities of the Hanse of Almain have also been widely investigated, especially in the publications of the Verein für Hansische Geschichte. Yet there are no statistics covering the amount of English trade in alien hands in the middle of the fourteenth century. Moreover, there is no such examination of the customs rolls for that century as Schanz has provided for the reign of Henry VIII, although the enrolled customs accounts are the chief source of information about the regulation of foreign trade, the customs rates, and the volume of trade.

Even less attention has been devoted to the legal position of alien merchants in England in relation to the central government, although that authority obviously possessed the power to admit or exclude them, to encourage them by a liberal policy or to hamper them by restrictions or heavy customs rates, to regulate their legal privileges and to determine the status of those who became permanent residents in England. Apart from general treatment in histories of English law, and even more general treatment in the histories of the naturalization laws, the position of alien merchants has, more or less naturally, been regarded from the local rather than from the . . .

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