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Medieval Sourcebook:
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 freedom.

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

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