The Old Trades
ENGLISH exports grew rapidly from the end of the 1470s until the end of Henry VII’s reign, though interrupted briefly at times of international tensions. After 1508–10 progress slackened, and though London’s trade showed a continuing rapid expansion, this resulted from diversion of much of the trade of the southern and western ports to the metropolis. In the forties and early fifties there were violent trade fluctuations. Exports were very high in some individual years. They collapsed in 1542–3 and 1547 when war cut Antwerp from its continental markets, but surged forward in the intervening and following years. The heavy currency devaluation of 1546 stimulated them to reach a high peak in 1548–50. The epidemic of 1551, the upward revaluation of the currency in 1551–2 and the quarrel with Hanseatic traders in 1552–3 drove them down again. London exports fell away slightly from the highest peaks of the mid-century, but there was compensation, to an extent that cannot be evaluated, in the recovery of exports through the provincial ports. There were individual years of extreme difficulty, as in 1563 and 1586. Heroic efforts had to be made to open new channels of trade as old ones closed and London lost a part of its trading dominance; but English exports probably showed a modest rising tendency during the second half of the century.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.