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also, Edward III. issued a letter patent1 on behalf of the cloth workers in worsted in the county of Norfolk. The manufacture was already so extensive and important that next year a special "aulnager" 2 (or cloth searcher) was appointed to inspect the worsted stuffs of Norwich and district, who held his office for twenty years. In 1348, however, on the petition of the worsted weavers and merchants themselves, the patent was revoked, and the aulnager removed. But in 1410, after Norwich had gained a new charter (1403), the power of "aulnage" was once more given, at its own request, to its mayor and sheriffs, or their deputies.1
$ 80. Gilds in the Cloth Trade.
In the previous period we referred to the origin and growth of the craft-gilds, and it is interesting to note their importance in connection with the woollen industry at this time. As a separate craft, that of the weaver cannot be traced back beyond the early part of the twelfth century; in the middle of the twelfth century, however, gilds of weavers are found established in several of the larger English towns. At first they were in voluntary association, though acting independently of each other, but it became the policy of the government in the fourteenth century to extend the gild organisation over the whole country, and thus to bring craftsmen together in organised bodies. Elaborate regulations were drawn up for their governance by Parliament, or by municipalities. Now, in London at this date (about 1300), and probably at Norwich and other large towns, the woollen industry was divided into four or five branches-the weavers and burellers, the dyers and fullers, and the tailors (cissores)." The The weavers and burellers were each in a separate gild, the dyers and fullers together in one, while the tailors formed a third gild of
1 Col. Rot. Pat., 103, 2 Ed. III.
3 Ib., 156, 22 Ed., III.
2 Col. Rot. Pat., 104.
Rot. Parl., iii. 637.
The Pipe Rolls of the early years of Henry II. show gilds of weavers in Winchester, Huntingdon, Nottingham, and York. Pipe Rolls, 2-4 Hen. II., ed. 1844.
6 Ashley, Woollen Industry, p. 17.
7 Ashley, ib., 27.
their own. But they were all very conscious that they had interests in common, and they were accustomed to act together in matters affecting the industry as a whole, such as, e.g., ordering cloth made in the city to be dyed and fulled in that city, and not sent out to some other town.1
§ 81. The Dyeing of Cloth.
The dyeing and fulling industry, however, could not have flourished much in England at this time, for English cloths were mostly sent to be fulled and dyed in the Netherlands;2 and indeed we cannot consider dyeing as a really English industry till the days of James I., where it will be duly mentioned. At the same time it was not unknown, for it was practised even in early Celtic days; and we have scarlet, russet, and black cloths of English make in the fourteenth century. Woad, also for dyeing, was imported in John's reign.5 But the industry was chiefly carried on in the Netherlands, owing to the progress there made in the cultivation of madder, which forms the basis of so many different dyes. This plant has never been at any time largely cultivated in England, and, moreover, the Dutch for several centuries possessed the secret of a process of pulverising the root in order to prepare it for use. Such being the case, there is no wonder that they far excelled the English in the art of dyeing."
§ 82. The Great Transition in English Industry.
From the time of this first Flemish immigration in the fourteenth century, we perceive the beginning of an important modification in our home industries. Hitherto England had been almost exclusively a purely agricultural country, growing large quantities of wool, exporting it as raw material, and importing manufactured goods in exchange. But from this period the export of wool gradually
1 Liber Custumarum, 127-9 (of 1298 A.D.)
2 Yeats, Technical History of Commerce, p. 147.
3 Page 14 above.
4 Yeats, u. s., p. 148.
"Madox, Hist. Exchequer, 531, 532 (in 12 John). Evidently the home supply of woad, the traditional dye of the ancient Briton, was insufficient. 6 Yeats, Tech. Hist., p. 151.
declines, while on the other hand our home manufactures increase, until at length they in turn are exported. Now, the beginnings of this export date from the fourteenth century. In fact, manufactured cloth, and not raw wool becomes the basis of our national wealth, and frequently 2 the export of wool is forbidden altogether, so that we may have the more for the looms at home.
A proof of the growing importance of manufacture in this period is the noticeable lack of labourers and the high wages they get, as set forth in an Act of Henry IV. (1406), which points to an increase of weavers in all parts of the kingdom, that takes labourers from other employments. We may also incidentally note from this the growth of a distinct "labour class" living upon wages and not on the land.1
§ 83. The Manufacturing Class and Politics.
The growing importance of the manufacturing and merchant classes which were now rapidly springing up 5 can be clearly traced in the politics of the Tudor period. In spite of two great drawbacks, the cloth manufacture was progressing. It had naturally been severely checked for a generation or so by the awful national disaster of the Great Plague, which occurred so soon after Edward III. had helped to promote it in England, and which for the time utterly paralysed English industry in all its branches. It had been checked again by the long and useless wars which Edward III. and his successors carried on against France, at enormous cost and with no practical results, but which of course were paid for out of the proceeds of our national industries. But after these two checks it developed steadily, even during the Wars of the Roses; for these wars were carried on almost exclusively by the barons and their retainers, in a series of battles hardly any of which were of
1 Burnley, Wool and Woolcombing, p. 66.
2 By the 4 Hen. VII., c. 11; 22 Hen. VIII., c. 2; 37 Hen. VIII., c. 15. 37 Hen. IV., c. 17. Ashley, Econ. Hist., vol. II. p. 101. "We note now the growth of a class of merchants who were not manufacturers, but occupied solely in buying and selling cloth. Ashley, Woollen Industry, pp. 58-67.
any magnitude, exaggerated though they have been both by contemporary and later historians. These wars had the ultimate effect of causing the feudal aristocracy to destroy itself in a suicidal conflict, and thus helped to increase the influence of the middle class, i.e., the merchants and manufacturers, as a factor in political life. And thus it became the policy of the Tudor sovereigns, who were gifted with a certain amount of native shrewdness, to hasten the decaying power of the feudal lords by simultaneously supporting, and being supported by, the middle class, and to the alliance thus made between the crown and the industrial portion of the community we owe a rapid increase of commercial prosperity which laid the foundations of the greatness of the Elizabethan age, and of the great mercantile enterprises that succeeded it.
1 Cf. Rogers, Six Centuries, 332-334. The Wars of the Roses seem to have had no effect upon wages and prices, even though there may have been some disorganisation; cf. Cunningham, i. 402.
THE TOWNS, INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES, AND FAIRS
§ 84. The Chief Manufacturing Towns.
DURING the period between the Norman Conquest and the middle of the thirteenth century, the towns, as we saw, had been gradually growing in importance, gaining fresh privileges, and becoming almost, in some cases quite, independent of the lord or king, by the grant of a charter. Moreover, they had grown from the mere trading centres of ancient times into seats of specialised industries, regulated and organised by the craft-gilds.1 This new feature of the industrial or manufacturing aspect of certain towns is well shown in a compilation, dated about 1250, and quoted by Professor Rogers in Six Centuries of Work and Wages,2 which gives a list of English towns and their chief products. Hardly any of the manufacturing towns mentioned are in the North of England, but mostly in the East and South. The following table gives the name of the town, and its manufacture or articles of sale :
(1) Textile Manufactures. Lincoln
Shaftesbury Linen fabrics.
1 Cunningham, Growth of Industry, i. 309, &c.
2 Six Centuries, p. 105. I have classified the list there given.