Merchandise Exported from England

Pages cxl-cxlii

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 1, 1202-1509. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.

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TABLE No. 6.

Merchandise loaded by the Flanders Galleys in England.
Name of Produce or Manufacture. Remarks.
Frankish wools (lane Franzesche). The term Frankish was employed to distinguish them from Eastern wools. In the glossary of Anglo-Norman, &c. (Muni-menta Gildhallie, II. pt. ii. p. 727), we read “Francisse. Engl. Franks, Frenchmen.”
Tin in rods (in verga).
Dressed hides.
Broad cloths, called white bastards.
Narrow bastard cloths.
Essex cloths, 1 yard wide and 14 yards long. Essex cloths, broad and narrow, sold at so many shillings the dozen. When un-shrunk, they measured 14 ells, which shrank to 12, and 16 ells reduced themselves to 14, according to the length of the cloths.
Tawney cloths of the width and length of the Essex cloths, but of lower quality.
Fine medleys (?mostovaleri) from thirty to thirty-one yards long. colored cloths
Broad medleys (mostovaleri) according to the colors required for the scales.
White kersies.
Kersies, dyed red, grey, green and cream color; two yards and a half Venetian measure in width; and from 15 to 16 or 18 yards in length, according to quality.
Village medley cloths colored (Panni vilazi mostovaleri acoloradi), nearly two yards wide, and 24 yards long or thereabouts.
Winchester coths, good and broad, each piece being from 26 to 27 yards long, and of good wool.
Winchester cloths, good and broad, each piece measuring from 26 to 27 yards in length, and of good wool.
Suffolk medleys, (mostovaleri,) and of other colors, they were of good appearance, but of bad wool, and measured from 36 to 40 yards the piece.
Friezes for night wear of loose texture (sono lasse de sorte) and sold well; they measured 24 yards, equal to ten Sicilian “Canne.”
Unshorn friezes were of better quality; white, and sold by the ell. The single piece measured 12 ells. These white friezes called “dozens,” cost from 18 to 32 shillings, the dozen.
White Guildford cloths were sold by the ell at the vate of from 2 to 3 ducats the piece, according to quality, the piece measuring from 38 to 42 yards. On the 4th of September 1453, the rate of exchange between Venice and London was 44½d. per ducat (See protected bill of that date)
Cloths of London, “Witney, and Loddon (commonly called Norwich cloths) were sold by the piece.
There was one quality of London cloth measuring 30 ells the piece when shrunk, and sold accordingly, and when it exceeded that measure, the surplus was for the purchaser, who was, however, entitled to indemnity if it fell short of the stipulated quantity.
The white cloths of “Witney were sold by the piece measuring thirty ells.
The Loddon cloths were sold by the piece of twenty four ells, when shrunk, such being the stipulated measure; each piece costing from 6 to 7 marks. The mark here quoted was a money of account equal to about 3s. 9d. sterling.
Large ox-hides, Flemish-dressing, sold by the piece, and of ready sale at all the scales, especially in Sicily and at Pisa.
Dressed calf skins sold by the dozen; they were required to be large, very heavy, and well dressed; and were expected to weigh upwards of 30 lbs. the dozen.
For Majorca, Pisa, and Sicily, England exported also by the Flanders Galleys block tin (stagni in peza), which was sold by the ewt., exceeding the Venetian weight by two lbs.; and lead, by the fother.
Wrought pewter was likewise in demand for Venice, and the intermediate ports; the exportation of porringers and platters of every sort being very considerable.
The Flanders galleys did not load grain; but in the year 1498 a Venetian ship, Daniel Pasqualigo master, on its return from London took in a cargo of wheat (probably of English growth) at Calais, at the price of one ducat for five Venetian bushels (fn. 1), and the narrator of the fact observes that by so doing Pasqualigo gained more than he would have done had he shiped salt at Ivica.
The English exports for Sicily, shipped on board the Flanders galleys, consisted of various sorts of cloth, most especially large supplies of medleys (mostivaieri), kersies, and friezes.
Also tin in rods (stagni in verga), and pewter platters and porringers. In addition to most of the same imports as those for England, conveyed by the Flanders galleys, according to the foregoing table, they also supplied Bruges with tabby silks and silk yarn from Syria; dyed silk, yellow and light blue, cardaraums, lake gum from Bassora, Barbary wax, rock alum from Constantinople, the produce of Macedonia, woad, indigo, hepatick aloes, gum cistus, ostrich feathers, &c. &c.
The Flanders galleys, in addition to many of the aforesaid commodities, also supplied Antwerp with sulphur from Sicily, ivory teeth for combs, jewels and large pearls, rubies, turquoises and diamonds.
The exports of Bruges for Venice, shipped by the Flanders galleys, were rough bars of tin (stagni in verga roza), double and single serges, baizes of every sort, and some bastard cloths, quantities of double and single caps, black and blue, cutlery, woollen gloves, white caps, &c.; and Bruges, through the Flanders galleys, also supplied Naples, Puglia, Calabria with cloths, woollen caps, and woollen gloves; much cutlery and brass and tin-ware, bow-strings, double and single serges, white thread, door curtains, &c.
From Antwerp Venice exported by the Flanders galleys double and single serges, baizes of all sorts, double and single caps of all colors, white night caps, and woollen gloves, cutlery, hardware, etc.
By the statutes for the Flanders galleys dated February 1347, it is seen that at that period, amongst the merchandize which constituted their homeward cargoes, was amber which paid freight at the rate of 25 shillings (solidos) gross, per thousand weight troy; but in Paxi's list of Flemish exports there is no mention of this substance.
From various notices of the Anglo-Venetian trade in the 14th and 15 th centuries, it appears:
I. That the standard of the troy weight was quoted thus, “Eleven ounces and two deniers made one pound troy.”
II. The avoirdupois weight (the name was first acknowledged by statute A.D. 1532, 24 Henry VIII.) was known on foreign marts in the 14th and 15th centuries solely by the name of “Tria” (Treves?) weight (fn. 2), each pound of that denomination consisting of sixteen ounces.
III. 364lbs. Treves weight of English wool corresponded to Venetian lbs. gross 350
And to Venetian lbs. light, or troy 550
100 lbs. Tria weight were equal to Venetian lbs. gross 96
108  Ditto  Do.  troy 163
The Venetian bushel of currants (not grain), equal to 260 Venetian light pounds, corresponded to 173 lbs. Tria weight. Two lbs. silk yarn Venetian weight made 1 lb. according to the English silk weight.
From 22 to 23, Messina ounces, corresponded to 1 lbs. English silk weight.
Nineteen ounces and a half Venetian light weight of dyed silk corresponded to 1 lb. English silk weight. Seventeen ounces Venetian light weight of spices corresponded to 1 lb. English weight.
IV. The English cloth yard corresponded to five quarters Venetian measure; but including the surplus given invariably by clothiers, it amounted to five quarters and one third.
One hundred English yards corresponded to 133 Venetian “braccie.”
Seventy-five English yards made 100 Venetian “braccie.”
Eighteen yards kersies, forming one piece, made 24 Venetian “braccie.”
The English frieze ell (godo) made two yards Venetian cloth measure, &c.
V. 100 yards cloth of silk, Venetian measure, made 67 English yards.
25 yards cloth of silk, Venetian measure, made 16 yards and ¾ English measure.
6 yards cloth of silk, Venetian measure, made 4 yards English.
1 yard and a half cloth of silk, Venetian measure made one yard English.
25 yards of every sort of wimple silks (zendadi) corresponded to from 18 and ¾ to 19 yards English measure. (fn. 3)


  • 1.
  • 2. “Vendesi lana a saccho, che sacco uno sono chiovi 52, et ogni chiovo pesa libbre 7, di Londra; et ogni libbra è once sedici di Tria, et non intendere di Trovs (and mistake not Tria for Troyes). (See Francesco de Dino, Chostumi di Londra, &c. Firenze adi 10 di Dicembre, 1481.)
  • 3. The table of weights and measures, published at Venice by Bartholomeo di Paxi on the 26th July 1503, is not always in accordance with the present standard, but may nevertheless serve to give some idea of the mode in which commercial exchanges were effected between the two countries throughout the 14th and 15th centuries.