The Law of the Fullers & Weavers of Winchester, 1209
The hostility and jealousy of native merchants for foreign artisans under royal
protection was reflected in the regulations for the weavers of the English cities. Trade
was restricted to that with local merchants, full citizenship was denied them except for
those who obtained wealth, nor could they dry or dye cloth.
Be it known that no weaver or fuller may dry or dye cloth nor go outside the city to
sell it. They may sell their cloth to no foreigner, but only to merchants of the city. And
if it happens that, in order to enrich himself, one of the weavers or fullers wishes to go
outside the city to sell his merchandise, he may be very sure that the honest men of the
city will take all his cloth and bring it back to the city, and that he will forfeit it in
the presence of the aldermen and honest men of the city. And if any weaver or fuller sell
his cloth to a foreigner, the foreigner shall lose his cloth, and the other shall remain
at the mercy of the city for as much as he has. Neither the weaver nor the fuller may buy
anything except for his trade but by making an agreement with the mayor. No free man can
be accused by a weaver or a fuller, nor can a weaver or a fuller bear testimony against a
free man. If any of them become rich, and wish to give up his trade, he may forswear it
and turn his tools out of the house, and then do as much for the city as he is able in his
They have this law of the liberty and customs of London, just as they say.
From: A. F. Leach, ed., Beverley Town Documents, Selden Society Vol. XIV,
(London, 1900), Appendix II, pp. 134-135, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H.
Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce
Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 242-243.
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998