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Northumbria and parts of the Midlands; and the permanence of their settlements is indicated by the survival of churches dedicated to St. Olave and by place-names; especially numerous are the records of their occupation in Lincolnshire 1.
The Danish conquest of England was the most important of Danish event in the early history of English commerce. The Vikings were not only seamen but also traders; they were at once pirates and merchants, in whose graves a pair of scales were laid side by side with battle-axe and sword 2. They brought to English shores the commodities of Northern and Western Europe, as well as the products of Eastern climes. They found their way to the Black Sea and the shores of the Caspian, and established commercial dealings with Constantinople and even with Asia itself. At a period earlier than the discovery of the sea passage to the East Indies and the activities of the Italian cities, the line of commercial intercourse between the Baltic and Arabia lay through Russia along the great rivers 3. Scandinavia thus became the staple for Arabian wares and the merchandise of the countries bordering on the Caspian Sea; and it was doubtless by way of Scandinavia that England derived from the East her store of silver for currency. Evidence of considerable foreign trade between England and the North is furnished by the quantity of early English coins discovered in Gothland 4. But the most valuable service which the Danish immigrants rendered English commerce was not so much to open up new trade routes, as to impart to the English people a knowledge and skill in seamanship to which they had hitherto been strangers. The Anglo-Saxons themselves displayed little aptitude for navigation, and had grown unaccustomed to a seafaring life. Indeed, when Alfred built his navy he was compelled to man part of it at least with Frisians 5. The promise of thegnhood to the
1 In the Danish part of England there are 1373 Scandinavian placenames, of which 604 end in by, e.g. Derby, Whitby. Lincolnshire contains 212 towns whose names end in by: Worsaae, Danes and Norwegians, map on p. 71. For Lincolnshire see G. S. Streatfeild, Lincolnshire and the Danes (1884), 3 et passim.
2 A pair of scales were found in a Viking interment in the Hebrides: Keary, op. cit. 73. 3 Worsaae, op. cit. 102. 4 Ibid. 104-105.
5 Ibid. 108. Compare Chadwick, Origin of the English Nation, 19.
merchant who thrice fared over the sea by his own means 1, reflects the estimation in which the exploit was held. The improvements which the Scandinavians introduced into the art of shipbuilding, their construction of vessels with the capacity to withstand the force of tempest and rough seas, justly entitle them to be regarded as the founders of modern navigation 2. Thus the Danish settlement not only stimulated English shipbuilding, but infused into the English nation a hardy and vigorous element which found a natural outlet for its energies in maritime activities. In this way the Danes helped to lay the foundations of England's greatness as a commercial and maritime power.
As a result of the Northern immigration English foreign Canute. trade began rapidly to expand. Hitherto it had extended only to the nearest parts of the continent, but now commercial relations were opened up with Scandinavia and even with Iceland and Greenland, and indirectly with Arabia and the remote East. Canute took steps to ensure safety for English merchants when journeying abroad. "I spoke", he wrote in a letter to his subjects, "with the emperor himself and with the pope and the princes who were there, in regard to the wants of my people, English and Danes, that there should be granted to them more equal justice and greater security in their journeys to Rome, and that they should not be hindered by so many barriers on the road nor harassed by unjust tolls". Had the great Danish empire which Canute built up survived, England might have thrown in her lot permanently with Northern Europe, and remained for many generations isolated from the influences and commercial life of Southern Europe. This would have been a misfortune, for the brilliant energy which Scandinavia had displayed was soon spent and died completely away; and the future was destined to lie with Southern Europe. From sharing in the decline which overtook the North, England was saved by the Norman Conquest, which made her a participant in the great heritage of civilization and culture that Rome had bequeathed to the Western world.
1 Liebermann, Gesetze, i. 459.
2 Worsaae, op. cit. 108, 112 seq. 3 William of Malmesbury, De Gestis Regum (Roll Series), i. 222.
In the early part of the Middle Ages the control of English merchants commerce was largely in the hands of foreign merchants, who came not to reside permanently in this country, but to act as intermediaries between England and the rest of the world. Their history, however, is the record of one long ceaseless struggle with the authorities of English towns. The burgesses did not seek to prevent alien merchants from coming to these shores, for until Englishmen were ready to undertake the carrying trade there was no other way by which they could exchange native produce for foreign wares. But they endeavoured to restrict them to wholesale dealings with enfranchised traders, and they would not allow them to trade among themselves, or to have retail dealings with the body of English consumers. In other words, their purpose was to retain the internal trade of the country in their own hands while leaving only the carrying trade to foreign merchants. This policy conflicted with the interests of the king and the nobility, who as landowners were anxious to trade directly with continental merchants and save the profits of the native middlemen, selling to them their produce and purchasing from them imported commodities. The collision of interests was shown in the king's answer to a petition in 1290, when the citizens of London complained that aliens obtained more benefit from the trade of the city than they themselves, since they had to bear all the financial burdens by which they were impoverished; alien merchants, they complained, ought not to stay more than forty days and should sell only to citizens, but instead carried off all the profits. The reply was unfavourable; the king would not agree to expel them because they were " convenient and useful to the magnates "2. For centuries English commercial life was disturbed by unceasing strife over the rival claims of burgesses and aliens. In order to safeguard their exclusive monopoly of retail trade, and prevent direct contact between aliens and consumers, the burgesses endeavoured to establish certain regulations: no foreign merchant was to stay in England for a longer period than forty days and
1 This may be inferred from the preamble to 9 Edw. III. Stat. 1, c. I (Statutes, i. 270). 2 Rot. Parl. i.* 55 a.
must reside with an English host, who was to witness all his commercial transactions; and he was not permitted to sell by retail or to trade with other foreign merchants. Already in the first half of the twelfth century, a foreign merchant was forbidden to sell retail or stay more than forty days in the city 1. When Edward I. sought information as to the position of foreign traders (1300), the citizens of London declared that it was not permitted to foreign merchants to reside on the premises which they hired for the purpose of storing merchandise, or to receive other foreign merchants there; but that they ought to reside in the houses of citizens, and this for the space of forty days and no more, so that they sell their wares within that time 2. In support of their claims the burgesses appealed to Magna Carta, which contained two clauses. The first clause promised that the city of London shall have all its ancient liberties and free customs as well by land as by water; furthermore we decree and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns and ports shall have all their liberties and free customs". The second clause added the proviso that "all merchants shall have safe and secure exit from England and entry to England, with the right to tarry there and to move about as well by land as by water, for buying and selling by the ancient and right customs, quit from all evil tolls "4. These two clauses are mutually contradictory. The author of The Mirror of Justices interprets the second clause in his own fashion: "The article [in Magna Carta] about the residence of alien merchants is to be so understood, that this residence is not to be prejudicial to the towns nor to the merchants of England, and so that the alien merchants are to be sworn to the king and pledged if they stay beyond forty days "5. This may well have been the view of a London citizen whose legal judgment was swayed by civic patriotism, but it hardly commends itself as a correct explanation. On the whole, we are inclined to believe that the presence of these two clauses
Rot. Parl. ii. 296 a (1368). The petitioners refer to Magna Carta, c. 13. 4 W. S. McKechnie, Magna Carta (1914), cc. 13, 41.
The Mirror of Justices, 180.
in the Great Charter discloses the latent jealousy between the nobles and the burgesses, which even their temporary union could not altogether dispel. The first clause must be regarded as a vague concession to the towns, extorted by municipal pressure, the second-which is far more explicitas representing the real views of the framers of the Charter1 At first the regulations of the burgesses were successfully enforced, and they were often inserted in town charters conferring the rights of self-government upon the townsmen. The charters of Bristol 2 (1188), Dublin (1192), Waterford' (1232), Drogheda 5 (1253), contained clauses enjoining foreign traders to sell their merchandise within forty days, and to sell no cloth by retail "except at fairs", and buy neither hides, corn nor wool from non-burgesses. Thus London did not stand alone in denying freedom of traffic to alien merchants, though aliens naturally flocked in larger numbers to London than to any other town in England".
Occasionally, however, exceptions were made in favour Edward I. of certain foreign towns as to the length of stay which their merchants were allowed to make in this country. The Hanseatic League enjoyed a privileged position, and London' in 1237 and Norwich in 1286 entered into agreements with the woad merchants of Amiens and one or two other towns, by which they could "dwell within the city as long as they pleased ", and sell their woad "to whomsoever they will, whether foreigners or natives". Again, Henry III. granted to the men of Douai (1260) that they might import their merchandise and "freely come to our realm and there stay, paying the customs due "9. He also offered merchants a safe-conduct to bring their wines to any English port upon payment of the "old and accustomed " duties, and at the same time (1236) promised not to take their wines to his own use nor permit others to do so 10. But Edward I. was 1 This conjecture seems confirmed by the fact that in 1320 the alien merchants appealed to Magna Carta as evidence of their liberties: Close Rolls, 1318-1323, p. 234. 2 Latimer, Bristol Charters, 11. 4 Charter Rolls, i. 158.
3 Gilbert, Documents of Ireland, 53.
Rot. Parl. ii. 258 b (1354).
"Letter Book G, 30; Riley, Liber Albus, i. 418-424. The Danes also had
special privileges: Liber Custumarum, i. 63.
8 Records of Norwich, ii. 209.
• Letter Book B, 234.
10 Patent Rolls, 1232-1247, P. 148.