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1377.

A P. rank, was never regarded by them. The commons
XVI. make continual complaints of the multitude of

robberies , murders, rapes, and other disorders,
which, they say, were become numberless in
every part of the kingdom, and 'which they
always ascribe to the protection that the criminals
received from the great "}. The king of Cyprus,
who paid a visit to England in this reign, was
robbed and stripped on the highway with his
whole retinue ". Edward himself contributed
to this dissolution of law, by his facility in grant.
ing pardons to felons from the solicitations of the
courtiers. Laws were made to retrench this
prerogative", and remonstrances of the commons
were presented against the abuse of it "*: But
to no purpose. The gratifying of a powerful
nobleman continued still to be of more importance
than the protection of the people. The king also
granted many franchises, which interrupted the
course of justice and the execution of the laws *?.

COMMERCE and industry were certainly at a very low ebb during this period. The bad police of the country alone affords a sufficient reason. The only exports were wool, skins, hides, leather, butter, tin, lead, and such unmanufactured goods, of which wool was by far the most considerable. Knyghton has asserted, that 100,000 sacks of wool were annually exported, and sold at twenty

"Cotton, p. 51. 62. .70.:160. 114 Walling, p. 170. so Edw. III. cap. 2. 2, Edw. III. cap. 2. *** Cotton, p. 75.

Ibid. p. 54.

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pounds a sack, money of that age. But he is CHAP widely mistaken both in the quantity exported XVI. and in the value. In 1349, the parliament remon- i 1377. strate, that the king, by an illegal imposition of forty shillings on each sack exported, had levied 60,000 pounds a year " : Which reduces the annual exports to 30,000 sacks. A fack contained twenty-six stone, and each stone fourteen pounds"""; and at a medium was not valued at above five pounds a fack "°, that is, fourteen or fifteen pounds of our present money. Knyghton's computation raises it to fixty pounds, which is near four times the present price of wool in England. According to this reduced computation, the export of wool brought into the kingdom about 450,000 pounds of our present money, instead of six millions, which is an extravagant sum. Even the former sum is so high, as to afford a suspicion of some mistake in the computation of the parliament with regard to the number of sacks exported. Such mistakes were very usual in those ages.

EDWARD endeavoured to introduce and promote the woollen manufacture by giving protection and encouragement to foreign weavers '', and by enacting a law, which prohibited every one from wearing any cloth but of English fabric ", The

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""* Cotton , p. 48. 69. " 34 Edw. III. cap. 5. Cotton, p. 29.

11 11 Edw. III. cap. s. Rymer , vol. iv. p.723. Murimuth, p. 88. **2 I! Edw. III. cap. 2.

1377.

CHA r. parliament prohibited the exportation of woollen XVI. goods, which was not so well judged, especially

while the exportation of unwrought wool was so much allowed and encouraged. A like injudicious law was made against the exportation of manufactured iron ".

It appears from a record in the exchequer, that in 1354 the exports of England amounted to 294,184 pounds seventeen shillings and twopence: The imports to 38,970 pounds three shillings and six-pence money of that time. This is a great balance, considering that it arose wholly from the exportation of raw wool and other rough måterials. The import was chiefly linen and fine cloth, and some wine. England seems to have been extremely drained at this time by Edward's foreign expeditions and foreign subsidies which , probably was the reason, why the exports so much exceed the imports.

The first toll we read of in England, for mending the highways, was imposed in this reign : It was that for repairing the road between St. Giles's and Temple-Bar ".

In the first of Richard II. the parliament complains extremely of the decay of shipping during the preceding reign, and assert, that one sea-port formerly contained more vessels than were then to be found in the whole kingdom. This calamity, they ascribe to the arbitrary seizure of

136

** 28 Edw. III. cap. 5. p. 520.

*** Rymer, vol. v.

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ships by Edward, for the service of his frequent c H A P.
expeditions "'. The parliament in the fifth of XVI.
Richard renew the same complaint "*, and we 1377.
likewise find it made in the forty-sixth of Edward
III. So false is the coumon opinion, that this
reign was favorable to commerce.

There is an order of this king, directed to the
mayor and sheriffs of London, to take up all
ships of forty tun and upwards to be converted
into ships of war "?

The parliament attempted the impracticable scheme of reducing the price of labor after the pestilence, and also that of poultry ". A reaper, in the first week of August, was not allowed above two pence a day, or near fix pence of our present money; in the second week a third more. A master carpenter was limited through the whole year to three pence a day, a common carpenter to two pence, money of that age *. It is remarkable, that, in the same reign, the pay of a common soldier, an archer, was fix-pence a day; which, by the change, both in denomination and value, would be equivalent to near five stillings of our present money "o. Soldiers were

126 Cap. 3.

* Cotton, p. 155. 164.
**? Rymer , vol. iv. p. 664. " 37 Edw. III. cap. 3.
** 25 Edw. III. cap. 1. 3.

** Dugdale's Baronage, vol. i p. 784. Brady's hift.
vol. ii. App. N'. 92. The pay of a man at arms was
quadruple. We may therefore conclude, that the numerous
armies, mentioned by historians in those times, consisted
chiefly of ragamuffins, who followed the camp, and lived

CHA P. then inlisteil only for a very short time: They

XVI. lived idle all the rest of the year, and commonly 1377.

all the rest of their lives : One successful campaign, by pay and plunder, and the ransomn of prisoners, was supposed to be a small fortune to a man; which was a great allurement to enter into the service "".

The staple of wool, wool-fells, leather, and lead, was fixed by act of parliament in particular towns of England *32. Afterwards it was removed by law to Calais : But Edward, who commonly deemed his prerogative above law, paid little regard to these statutes; and when the parliament remonstrated with him on account of those acts of power, he plainly told them, that he would proceed in that matter as he thought proper", It is not easy to assign the reason of this great anxiety for fixing a staple; unless perhaps it invited foreigners to a market, when they knew beforehand,

133

by plunder. Edward's army before Calais consisted of 31,094 men; yet its pay for fixteen months was only 127,201 pounds. Brady, ibid.

" Commodities seem to have risen since the Conquest. Instead of being ten times cheaper than at present, they were in the age of Edward III, only three or four times, This change seems to have taken place in a great measure since Edward I. The allowance' granted by Edward ?II. to the earl of Murray, then a prisoner in Nottingham castle, is one pound a week; whereas the bishop of St. Andrews, the primate of Scotland, had only six-pence a day allowed him by Edward I. "* 27 Edw. III.

143 Cotton, p. 117.

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