Britain, 1483- 1529 finance, economy & trade HVII


financial management and wealth of crown

  • good financial management underpinned H's gov, he needed steady and sescure income for:

1- funding the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of gov

2- contribute his centralisation of power and discipline of the realm 

  • he inherited a bankrupt throne but bequeathed a solvent treasury, which provides evidence to suggest competent financial management 
  • some historians criticise HVII for being a greedy monarch, yet Guy comments H made the most of his various sources of revenue, which is scarely suprising since he had spent much of his youth as a penniless exile, and that there was great continuity between his financial management and that of EDIV
  • historians also comment his financial management became more rigorous as the reign was established 
  • solvenecy was important but less important than the development of admin techniques that increased the power of the crown, and reduced possibility of large-scale rebellion 
  • H appointed zealous agents with legal training to ensure revneue was collected 
  • these agents benefited from H's patronage gaining increased status and personal wealth
  • the King carefully supervised their work, sometimes directly and at other times through royal spies
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exchequer and Chamber

  • H relied on the exchequer to oragnise his finances, a system that ran royal finanaces by employing its own officals, therefore H sub-contracted financial management to the Exchequer. they kept accurate accounts but is considered slow & less efficient 
  • previous Yorkist kings had relied on different financial systems to manage their finanaces
  • it was known as the Chamber system b/c financial management was part of the royal household and under the direct supervision of the king 
  • it collapsed w/ Yorkist dynasty and H lacked financial experience to be able to reconstruct it as he was cautious and not prepared to risk losing his throne by being bankrupt 
  • he returned to the Chamber system eventually from 1493 where the exchequer lost its role in accounting for revenue from the crown lands. instead, the land revenue recievers accounted to a counsel committee sitting in Chamber to be known as the Court of the General Surveryors 
  • everyone working in the CotGS took a bond to guarantee their work for the King and w/ their careful supervision, revenue increased 
  • H's closest and most trusted servants were given important treasury roles from the start of the reign, but specifically after he began to transform his royal household into the royal treasury 
  • most important role taken by Thomas Lovell and John Heron 
  • under these men the chmaber became the King's major financial office, where a wide range of financial documents were scrutinised and stored
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ordinary revenue

H expected to 'live off his own' and meant he had to pay for the day-to-day expenses of gov from regular income. H went to great efforts to appoint administrators who would ensure these sources of ordinary revenue were efficiently managed 

  • Custom Duties: H took care to increase this source of income by cracking down on corrupt officials, and by twice updating the Book of Rates of Custom Duties - historians estimate customs duties rose from 33,000pa to 40,000 pa 
  • Crown Lands: HVII had more crown lands than previous monarchs, but some were confiscated by the Acts of Attainder, others were reclaimed by the Acts of Resumption - king's annual income from royal estates rose from 12,000 in 1486 to 42,000 in 1508
  • Fedual Dues:  tenant-in-chief had to pay relief to inherit lands of his dead father, if tenant-in-chief died without an heir, the land reverted (escheated), if heir was a minor, H had right to land, when heir came of age, had to pay livery. if there was an heiress, the king had a right to agree to her marriage as marriage dues. all tenants-in-chief entitled to pay an aid to the King on the knighting of his eldest son and marriage of his eldest daughter 
  • Profits of Justice: all court actions started with the issuing of royal writs and letters which had to be paid for in fees. Any fees imposed by the King's court had to be paid directly to the crown - the sums varied and were not recorded in accounts 
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extraordinary revenue

king was entitled to raise money from additional sources as one-off payments when he faced an emergency or an extraordinary expense of gov. was determined to see these collected correctly:

  • Parliamentary Subsidies: parliament contributed to the King's revenue by granting him a directly assessed subsidy, a 15th was the rate of tax on the moveable goods of laymen, and a 10th was a rate of tax on income of the clergy - each subsidy yielded as total of £29,000 approx
  • Loans: voluntary loads could be raised from richer subjects - in 1485, HVII raised over £10,000 in loads which he repaid
  • Benevolences: loans that were forced with the threat of sanction and were not repaid - raised £48,000 in 1491
  • Bonds & Recognisances: a bond was a lump sum payable only if a condition was not observed - payments were enforced by the Counsel Learned in the Law
  • Feudal Obligations: all tenants-in-chief were obliged to pay an aid to the king on knighting of eldest son and marriage of eldest daughter - £30,000 knighting of Prince Arthur
  • Clerical Taxes: convocation matched each parliamentary subsidy - approx raised £9000 each
  • French Pension: 1475, EdIV agreed annual pension from france in Treaty of Picquigny - in Treaty of Etaples, 1491, Charles VIII of France agreed to repay arrears in the French penion amount to £159,000 over several years
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main developments in domestic econ

domestic economy at the end of the 15th C:

  • Eng an agricultural country w/ vast majority of the pop involved in some form of farming 
  • many farming regions and practices, and enclosure was a problem before 1485
  • industry dominated by wool & cloth industry yet manufacturing techniques were backward
  • the threads of the raw wool were carded by hand, spun into thread on a spinning wheel and the thread woven on a handloom
  • some industry took place in individual famrworkers' homes 
  • other industry included mining tin, lead and coal, metal working, leatherwork, shipbuiliding and paper making
  • Eng was a trading nation but profts of trade were not a major source of income for the crown 
  • imports included wine & wood from france, wrought iron from Spain and cod from Scandanavia, the nature of imports were luxurious 
  • 90-95% of trade was internal b/c road network was extensive though the amounts carried by cart were small and routes were occassionaly impassible 
  • LDN largest city w/ Norwich, Bristol Newcastle and Cov numbering about 10,000 w/ hundreds of small market towns 
  • urban ares were centres for a wide variety of crafts and trades
  • guardians of craft industries were the urban guilds that controlled entry to the craft, kept watch over quality and production levels & enforced apprenticship regulations & set wages
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economic developments

  • although HVII had no economic policy he was interested in economic matters 
  • his interest in economic matters was not comprehensive but directed at particular areas of the economy such as coinage and trade
  • during the reign, parliament passed 50 statutes concerned w/ economic matters 
  • although, there was relatively little crown-directed economic growth or change over the reign of HVII
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  • most important section of national economy 
  • 90% of pop were peasants who lived off the land and struggled for survival - called subsistence agriculture 
  • all peasants had to pay rent, tithes and taxes and many supplemented their income w/ the cottage industry 
  • most important influence on economic activity in the realm was the harvest, which determined whether people ate or not effectively 
  • 1485 was a good harvest but 1486-9 were weak 
  • 1490s were golden decade. 4 bad years followed from 1500-03 but from 1504-09 harvests were average to good and the fluctuations were reflected in prices 
  • a sig change in the famring pattern in england, a decline in traditional open-field system with its attendant strips, 3 course rotation and common land
  • growing profitability of wool encouraged enterprising landowners to enlose land and engross farms which made farming less labour intensive and caused rural depopulation 
  • HVII passed legislation in 1488-89 to prevent depopulation but the acts were never enforced 
  • wool was sig b/c it was used to clothe everybody 
  • eng wool was the main ingredient of the Flemish cloth industry based in Antwerp that clothed people in Germany 
  • the great increase for foreign demand raised prices of eng wool and made it worth converting land from arable to pastoral, hence enclosing fields/engrossing farms 
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  • limited industrial advance during HVII's reign 
  • most important industries continued to be those most directly associated w/ the wool and cloth trade, centred in Yorkshire
  • the industry remained cottage based, but the emergence of the Merchant Clothiers who collected wool, thread and cloth then collected it for export marked the beginnings of a capitialist organisation of the trade which took some control away from individ producers 
  • 'putting out' sytem grew in 2nd half of the 15th century 
  • capitalist production proved more flexible and could be easily adapted to consumer needs 
  • distributors might insist on varation to a product in order to meet market demand and increase sales 
  • such practices helped increase exports so that the export of cloth by the Hansa merchants increased 5 fold between the beginning and end of 15th C
  • other industries took place and historical research suggests reliance on customs records led historians to underestimate the scale of industrial development beyond wool and cloth industries 
  • little heavy industry and what there was located out of town where water and raw materials were readily avaliable 
  • coal industry exported little of its production as it was used domestically 
  • by 1508-09 20% of the value in xport trade from Newcastle was in coal 
  • in 1486, a water-powered pump was bought to pump water out of the coal mine near Finchale 
  • Iron making was undertake sometimes using charcoal 
  • another sig industry was building industry for building projects in manor houses built by gentry families 
  • little evidence of HVII having involvement in development of indust sector 
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changes to coinage

  • HVII was interested in reforming coinage for economic and pol reasons
  • little development in Eng coinage since reign of ED III but HVII introduced new denominations in gold & silver and new designs
  • in nov 1485 he granted titles master of the Monies and keeper of Exhange in the Tower to Giles Daubney 
  • HVII also introduced a shilling piece, 1st coin to have king on 
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expansion of overseas trade

  • Eng was a trading nation but trade was not primary source of revenue 
  • clear from the fact that revenues from trade provided £40,000pa in 1509 , a small amount of royal revenue 
  • at the centre of the King's decision making concerning trade was a balance between exploiting commercial interests to serve his dynastic needs and the monarch's genuine desire to encourage growth in shipping, exports and maritime exploration 
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trade w/Burgundy

  • foreign relations were inextricable linked to trade 
  • England's primary trading relationship w/Burgundy b/c Eng's main export was wool and wollen cloth and the main Europen cloth trading centre was Antwerp
  • H realised the need for good trading relations w/ Burgundy but he faced an implacable pol enemy in Marg Duchess of Burgundy 
  • he was prepped to jeopardise his trading relationship w/Burgundy to put pol pressure on the rulers of Burgundy to put pol pressure on the rulers of Burgundy 
  • as a result trade w/ Burgundy proved inconsistent 
  • in 1493, H placed a ban on all Eng trade w/ Burgundy after Maximilian back Perkin Warbeck 
  • a drastic embargo that proved economically damaging but was deemed to be pol necessary 
  • 1496, H signed INTERCURSUS MAGNUS (Great Settlement) w/ Philip after Burgundy withdrew support for Warbeck
  • this trade treaty gave Eng merchants the right to trade freely throughout Burgundy, except in Flanders 
  • 1506, H signed the INTERCURSUS MALUS (evil settlement) as part of TREATY OF WINDSOR, this trade treaty gave English merchants such privileges in Burgundy that the Burgundians never implemented it
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trade w/France

there was similar inconsistency in Eng's trading relations w/France, for both countries use trade as a bargaining chip in diplomatic relations:

  • 1487: France imposed restrictions on trade after H backed Breton independence against French ambitions 
  • 1492: both countries agreed to reduce restrictions on trade as part of the TREATY OF ETAPLES
  • 1495: France ended all restrictions on English trade to secure English neutrality in the Italian Wars 
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the cloth trade

  • wool & cloth trade ws important, accounting for 90% of all exports
  • trade was changing long before HVII's reign from the export of raw wool to export of broadcloth
  • this development continued under HVII with the continued ascendancy of the Merchant Adventurers and the continued decline of the Merchants of the Staple 
  • H used the Merchant Adventurers as a means to limit the trading rights enjoyed by foreign traders in Eng, particularly to undermine the priveleged Hanseatic League also known as the Hansa 
  • in 1487, H banned the export of unfinished cloth by any foreign merchants and in 1489, he ended the Hansa's privilege that they controlled the export of bullion from Eng 
  • he modified this policy however, when he needed the Hansa's support to secure his kingship because he coult not afford to offend such a powerful interest as the Hansa 
  • Finally in 1504, H restored all the Hansa's privileges; at this point he was trying to gain custody of the Earl of Suffolk, a Yorkist fugitive in Germany 
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  • H showed similar inconsistency in his decision over the state of the shipping industy 
  • he did little for the Eng navy, leaving it in a weaker state than the Yorkist kings, Ed IV had 16 ships, R maintained an effective and vigilant naval force, but HT let it decline 
  • H began his reign w/ 7 ships in 1485 but allowed the number to fall by 5 by 1488 where it remained throughout the reign 
  • H's defensive FP ensured Eng was never @ risk, the weakened nacy was not a serious issue
  • H passed Navigation Acts in 1485 and 1489
  • these specified that Eng ships and crew had to be used in certain trades, to encourage Eng shipping and shipbuilding and to end dependency on foreign ships; although their scope was narrow, being principally concerned w/ Gascon wine trade 
  • acts had limited success, in 1509 half of trade was still carrie dout in foreign ships 
  • H did try to encourage improved ship maintenance by paying for the construction at Portsmouth of the first dry dock 
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