The Wealth of England: The medieval wool trade and its political importance 1100–1600 [Hardback]

Susan Rose (Author)

ISBN: 9781785707360 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2018 | Language: English 238p, H270 x W140 (mm) b/w and colour

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Paperback - ISBN: 9781789253825 - £ 28.00

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The Wealth of England


The wool trade was undoubtedly one of the most important elements of the British economy throughout the medieval period - even the seat occupied by the speaker of the House of lords rests on a woolsack. In The Wealth of England Susan Rose brings together the social, economic and political strands in the development of the wool trade and show how and why it became so important. The author looks at the lives of prominent wool-men; gentry who based their wealth on producing this commodity like the Stonors in the Chilterns, canny middlemen who rose to prominence in the City of London like Nicholas Brembre and Richard (Dick) Whittington, and men who acquired wealth and influence like William de la Pole of Hull. She examines how the wealth made by these and other wool-men transformed the appearance of the leading centres of the trade with magnificent churches and other buildings. The export of wool also gave England links with Italian trading cities at the very time that the Renaissance was transforming cultural life. The complex operation of the trade is also explained with the role of the Staple at Calais to the fore leading to a discussion on the way the policy of English kings, especially in the fourteenth century, was heavily influenced by trade in this one commodity. No other book has treated this subject holistically with its influence on the course of English history made plain.

Table of Contents

list of maps tables and Illustrations
Part One    Production
Chapter 1 The good shepherd and his flock
Chapter 2 The evidence of Estate Accounts
Part Two    Trade
Chapter 1 The organisation of the market for wool
Chapter 2 The direct Intervention of the Crown in the market
Chapter 3 Prices and Quantities
Chapter  4 Wool Merchants and Clothiers c.1400-c.1560
Part Three Politics
Chapter 1 The Crown’s attitude to trade
Chapter 2 The wool trade and royal finances
Chapter 3 The Crown and the Company of the Staple 1399-1558
Part Four Decline
Chapter 1 Excessive numbers of sheep?
Chapter 2 A ‘disorderly market’ in wool
Chapter 3 Did the wool trade make England rich?
Index and Bibliography

Reviews & Quotes

"Her coverage...can be described as comprehensive and thematic."
Sybil M. Jack
Parergon (30/01/2019)

"Wool has been the life blood of England for millennia. Yet while we are fascinated by stories of Empire, War and Conquest, we have not given the attention necessary to understanding the trade, industry and politics involved in our most important commodity. This book is essential reading for appreciating how bound up the wool trade was with the history of England, and it weaves major individuals, events and ideas into the story of the material that made England wealthy - Wool."
Dr Janina Ramirez
Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford (16/10/2017)

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