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The evolutionary dynamics of the credit relationship between Henry III and Flemish merchants, 1247-1270

The evolutionary dynamics of the credit relationship between Henry III and Flemish merchants, 1247-1270

Carol Alexander, Adrian R. Bell, Chris Brooks and Tony K. MooreICMA Centre (University of Reading)

ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance, November 27, (2011)

Abstract

This paper develops a model to analyse the nancial relationship between Henry III, king of England between 1216 and 1272, and one group of creditors, namely the Flemish merchants that provided cloth to the royal wardrobe. From the surviving royal documents, we have reconstructed the credit advanced to the royal wardrobe by the merchants of Ypres and Douai for each year between 1247 and 1270, together with the arrears owed by the king at certain points. The model is exible and able to capture the dynamics of the actual number of merchants trading in England as well as the extent to which the king made debt repayments.

The towns of Flanders were the great centres of the medieval cloth industry. During the thirteenth century, the bulk of Flemish exports were probably traded at the great international fairs of Champagne, where the Flemish cloth was exchanged with Italian merchants for silk, spices and other luxury goods. However, Flemish merchants were major exporters of finished cloth and other goods to England, selling their wares at the cycle of fairs held in Eastern England: Stamford at Lent, St Ives at Easter, Boston at Midsummer, Winchester in September and Northampton in November.

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