This is the first book to describe the early English woollens’ industry and its dominance of the trade in quality cloth across Europe by the mid-sixteenth century, as English trade was transformed from dependence on wool to value-added woollen cloth. It compares English and continental draperies, weighs the advantages of urban and rural production, and examines both quality and coarse cloths. Rural clothiers who made broadcloth to a consistent high quality at relatively low cost, Merchant Adventurers who enjoyed a trade monopoly with the Low Countries, and Antwerp’s artisans who finished cloth to customers’ needs all eventually combined to make English woollens unbeatable on the continent.
1. Introduction to English Woollens
2. Woollens Production and the Growing English Advantage
3. Dress, the Wool Supply, and Industry Regulation
4. The Thirteenth Century: A False Start?
5. Coarse Woollens in the Early-Fourteenth Century
6. The Fourteenth-Century Urban Revival
7. Revival of Exports, and an Assessment of Clothmaking at the End of the Fourteenth Century
8. Working Conditions in Towns
9. The Turbulent Fifteenth Century
10. The Clothiers’ Century 1450-1550
11. The March of the Clothiers
12. The London-Antwerp Ascendency and the Merchant Adventurers Company
13. Export Expansion, 1470-1555
14. Location of the Sixteenth-Century Woollens Industry