The Economic History Review

Alien finance and the development of the English economy, 1285–13111

Volume 66 Issue 2
Home > The Economic History Review > Alien finance and the development of the English economy, 1285–13111
Pages: 477-496Authors: PAMELA NIGHTINGALE
Published online: May 11, 2012DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2012.00657.x

Log in to access the full article.

The contribution of alien, particularly Italian, investment to the development of the medieval English economy has provoked opposing views which hitherto have had to rely chiefly on customs records and evidence of Italian loans to the state for statistical evidence. These, though, vary in their coverage and do not record the inland trade. This article uses the Statute Merchant certificates of debt from 1285 to analyse changing levels of commercial investment by alien and denizen merchants throughout all areas of the kingdom. It shows that Italian investment was declining from the 1280s in line with falling imports of foreign silver. It discusses the causes of this decline, and the effect on alien and denizen credit of imports of counterfeit sterling coins produced by European mints. It relates these financial developments in England, France, and Flanders to the sequence of events which led to English merchants increasing their numbers and mercantile capital at the beginning of the fourteenth century when they were first able to establish their domination of the country’s export trade in wool.