Monday, 17 January 2011

Balance of Trade 1560

The cost of imports was of as much concern to the first Elizabeth's government as it has been to the second's; one of the recent gems from the growing treasure chest that is British History Online has been the transcription of London port records from the 1560s, headed  'The particular valew of certayne necessary and vnnecessarye wares brought into the Porte of London in the second year of the Quenes Majestis reigne, the ouerquantyte wherof lamentably spoylith the realme yearly'

Allame (Alum) and Woade and Mader (Madder) for the dyers, of course, if one wanted blue and scarlet cloth, and Sope Ashes (Potash) if you needed soap, but amongst the 'unnecessary' expenditure that was an indicator of London's booming new middle class perhaps were Babies (dolls), Tennys Balles, Glasses to drinke in and to loke in, Gyrdells, Grenes for womens apernes (A fine green linen cloth used for aprons, originally from Doornick in Flanders), velvete and sables. But little surprise that the items that dominate the list are alcoholic; split generally 53% French wines, 32% on fortified wine from Iberia, 13% Alsation and Rheinish and a small quantity of 'bastarde' wine (we've all drunk it ...). Nor had the new fashion for bittering beer become self-sufficient, as we still spent as much on imported hops as on imported sugar. The table totals suggest that the trade deficit was something like 3% - actually a good deal healthier than the 13% commodity trade gap we have now. 

Plus ca change ....  

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