Supplying the market
in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Chapter 6 is the first of two chapters dedicated to an analysis of the economic activities of immigrants to England in the later Middle Ages. It begins by outlining the economic changes in England as a result of the Black Death of 1348 and the major redistribution of wealth that occurred over the following century. In this process, more English consumers had more money available for purchasing non-essential goods. The result was a considerable demand for high-quality products which were either not available in England or were not produced there to the necessary standard or quantity. All of this prompted the migration to England of skilled people working a range of identifiable crafts: in the clothing industry, in the building trades and in victualling (especially the production of beer). Special consideration is given to the cloth industry, since this has often been regarded as providing the defining model for the introduction of alien skilled labour into England in the relevant period. The chapter also considers the role and function of alien merchants in England.

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