Social and Economic

Wool, Trade, and Prevention of Anti-Burgundian Riots

International diplomacy had a large impact on London merchants and those who had employment directly tied to trade with the continent. Any policy change could make or break people’s livelihoods. Throughout the reign of Henry VI and Edward IV, there had been policies relating to the sale of goods on the continent that intended to improve England’s supply of bullion, secure tonnage and poundage duties and ensure that the mercantile classes could continue to prosper. Typically the policies shifted a preference for French or Burgundian trade, whilst taking into account the Hanseatic League and trade with Iberian or Italian States. 

Because of the wars with France, the primary source of continental trade had been with merchants from Burgundy. They used high quality English wool to produce cloth which in turn was of high value. The relationship with Burgundy was sometimes problematic. The Dukes of Burgundy and the English court had a rather unpredictable relationship, leading to periods of harmony and trade agreements followed by, usually short, periods where relations were strained.

In 1469 the changes to policy provoked outrage in some quarters. It was a politically tumultuous time, with the King effectively the prisoner of the Earl of Warwick. This was reflected in policy, the uncertainties frustrating trade and ultimately leading to rioting in London.

A proclamation was issued in London against riots or affrays

As a result, a proclamation was made on 2nd September 1469 about the affrays and riots. Citizens were warned not to say or do anything against the Burgundian trade agreements.

The king, to the mayor of the city of London, greetings. Order, immediately after the receipt of these presents, in every place within the aforesaid city, its suburbs, and the borough of Southwark, where most convenient, to make proclamation to this effect (English text follows). The king, our sovereign lord, by advice of the lords of his council, as well spiritual as temporal, straightly commandeth that no manner of person, what estate, degree or condition he be of, presume to make any affray, congregations, riots, assemblies or robberies, or anything attempt to do in word or in deed that should be to the breach of his peace, or of any amity, friendship or liege taken between his highness and the right mighty prince his brother the duke of Burgundy, or other prince outward, upon pain of imprisonment, and to make fine and ransom at the king’s will and forfeiture of all their goods: and over that our lord commandeth that the inhabitants, householders and dwellers within the said borough be ready to assist the bailiffs and constables of the same in keeping of the king’s peace and in subduing and correcting of all such misruled persons that would presume to do the contrary of our sovereign lord’s commandment at all time when they shall be so required by the said bailiffs; and that no manner of man, ostiller nor other, receive or keep any man in his lodging, but it be for a day and a night, but such as he shall answer for; and that all such people that with them lodge be within their lodging by the hour of nine, upon pain above rehearsed. Given under our privy seal in our city of London, the first day of September, the ninth year of our reign. Tested Westminster, 2 September. English.)

“Close Rolls, Edward IV: 1469.” Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward IV: Volume 2, 1468-1476. Eds. W H B Bird, and K H Ledward. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1953. 77-80. British History Online. Web. 29 August 2022.

Image Credit

The English Merchants’ House in Bruges, as it was in the 1640s. Antonius Sanderus, Flandria illustrata (Cologne, 1641-44), p.275.


Treasures in Full: Caxton. Trade and Politics. Caxton in Flanders, trade and prosperity.

JOHN H.A. MUNRO. Wool, Cloth, and Gold: The Struggle for Bullion in Anglo-Burgundian Trade 1340–1478. Series: Heritage. Copyright Date: 1973. Published by: University of Toronto Press. Pages: 256 via JSTOR.

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