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Medieval Sourcebook:
Leges Edwardis Confessoris:
The Liberties of London, c. 1120

The laws of Edward the Confessor, written after A.D. 1115, prescribed certain rules for the conduct of merchants, and though London probably had no merchant gild, detailed regulations similar to those set up by the gilds of England must have existed in the twelfth century. The privilege of selling at retail was usually reserved to local merchants.

Liberty of Cities.

C.l. Be it known that within the space of three miles from all parts outside of the city a man ought not to hold or hinder another, and also should not do business with him if he wish to come to the city under its peace. But when he arrives in the city, then let the market be the same to the rich man as to the poor.

Concerning Liberty of the Citizens of London.

C.2. Be it also known that a man who is from the court of the king or the barons ought not to lodge in the house of any citizen of London for three nights, either by privilege or by custom, except by consent of the host. For if he force the host to lodge him in his house and there be killed by the host, let the host choose six from his relatives and let him as the seventh swear that he killed him for the said cause. And thus he will remain quit of the murder of the deceased towards the king and relatives and lords of the deceased.

C.8. And after he has entered the city, let a foreign merchant be lodged wherever it please him. But if he bring dyed cloth, let him see to it that he does not sell his merchandise at retail, but that he sell not less than a dozen pieces at a time. And if he bring pepper, or cumin, or ginger, or alum, or brasil wood, or resin, or incense, let him sell not less than fifteen pounds at a time. But if he bring belts, let him sell not less than a thousand at a time. And if he bring cloths of silk, or wool or linen, let him see that he cut them not, but sell them whole. But if he bring wax, let him sell not less than one quartanum. Also a foreign merchant may not buy dyed cloth, nor make the dye in the city, nor do any work which belongs by right to the citizens.

C.9. Also no foreign merchant with his partner may set up any market within the city for reselling goods in the city, nor may he approach a citizen for making a bargain, nor may he stop longer in the City.


From: Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1840), p. 462, 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. 199-200.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998
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