صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

THE MERCHANT ADVENTURERS.

241

her English monopolies practically animpaired can only be explained by a chain of political circumstances, the innate conservatism of England and English respect for treaties.

The Hansa had meanwhile not yet given up everything for lost, and the Rath sent ambassadors again to London, craving for a renewal of the privileges as set forth in the Treaty of Utrecht, and at length with some success, as certain modified monopolies were restored to her.

Under the reactionary government of Mary, the Hansa, with Philip II. as her advocate, temporarily regained the fiscal position as enjoyed under Henry VIII., and the League took joyful part in the public welcome accorded to Mary on her state entry into London, having fountains cascading Rhine wine in the streets, and spending something like £1,000 in gifts and street decorations. The ambassador sent over to felicitate the queen on her accession had barely reached home again when violent disputes broke out afresh, and the Adventurers succeeded in obtaining a substantial curtailment of the privileges so very recently renewed. The negotiations were endless until the death of Mary in 1558.

Elizabeth on her accession showed the Hansa a certain degree of favour, for she remitted some vexatious restrictions placed on the landing of certain goods at the Steelyard wharf, and permitted all sorts of goods to be received there.

Gresham, who had lost influence under Mary's reactionary regime, soon got the ear of her enterprising and sagacious successor, and he strongly represented that if it were just for the Hansa to enjoy monopolies in England to the detriment of the English trading classes, surely the League should be compelled to extend reciprocity to English trade in German territory. This was the one thing the Hansa had always been unwilling to do; but, Elizabeth herself taking a personal interest in these negotiations, an arrangement was arrived at under which it was agreed that the Merchant Adventurers were to be assigned a station at Hamburg for ten years. Sir Richard Clough was appointed English resident at the head of the establishment. This factory's operations were attended with complete success, as in 1569 the admitted value of the cloth imported in that year amounted to little short of a million thalers.

The Hansa, alarmed at the lamentable effect produced on the Steel

VOL. XVI.

E E

yard export of cloth, withdrew permission to continue the station, and the English got notice to quit possession of their factory at Hamburg.

For the Hansa, with such a roll of monoplies behind her, to give England notice that the Hamburg concession would be withdrawn, was clearly a dangerous step to take, especially at this critical juncture of affairs, but indeed the League began to find itself unable to compete with its English rivals under anything like equal conditions. It was, besides, torn by dissensions from within, owing to conflicting interests and ambitions among the cities still on the roll. In fact, the League was everywhere. tottering to its fall. Her cloth export had begun to shrink coincident with the competition of the English depot at Hamburg, as the following figures show :

1550-1555—50,000 pieces, average annual export.
1560-1562—40,000
1570-1575—30,000

The Hansa in her negotiations with England at this time found an opponent anxious and able to deal with facts and plain issues. It had ceased to be a question of old treaties and privileges, bought at a price and handsomely paid for long ago, and it became clear to both parties that the Hansa had had her day. Secret information as to the possible seizure of the Steelyard induced the fathers to send all important documents and silver plate to Lübeck, these documents had now amply served their turn.

The long impending blow fell on 7th April, 1579, when the Privy Council withdrew in a word all the Hansa's privileges and monopolies. The question as to the Steelyard 'title' being left in abeyance.

The Hansa herself, torn by conflicting councils, and unable to tell friends from foes, was unable to make any headway against the storm, and confusion reigned at the Steelyard.

The Merchant Adventurers were refused access to all German ports by the emperor, but had still a settlement at Stade, on the Elbe, established 1587, in succession to that of Hamburg.

Lord Leicester, writing to Secretary Walsingham in 1585, says: Hamborou ys a villanous town and wholy the kings of Spayn, my lord Wyllouby was in great danger to be taken in there territerye. But yf yt please her Majesty to bestow her merchants in other places, I believe veryly more to their proffyt, but far more to their safety.'

STEELYARDS OF LONDON, BOSTON, AND LYNN.

243

Elizabeth seemed now determined to carry the war into the enemies' country, for she dealt another important Hansa staple a crushing blow, by granting the trading monoply in steel, practically long enjoyed by the Hansa, to Robert and Richard Cammerlane.

The war with Spain brought about the final catastrophe. Sir Francis Drake, finding the Hansa supplying the Spanish fleet with grain and munitions of war, took forcible possession of sixty of their vessels redhanded.

All English merchants were thereupon ordered to quit Germany, and on 13th January, 1598, the Steelyard merchants received notice to quit England within fourteen days. On 25th July the lord mayor and sheriffs took possession of the Steelyard in the queen's name, and on the 4th August following the Hansa merchants, with their belongings, and headed by their alderman, Heinrich Langerman, marched out of the Steelyard, shutting the gate behind them.

THE STEELYARDS OF LONDON, Boston, AND LYNN. The house which was originally the “Gildehalle Teutonicorum,' stood in Upper Thames street, eastward of Cosen's lane ; the other factory buildings extended in the direction of All Hallows' lane. The oidest house was doubtless of wood, like the early halls of the London guilds, and the German buildings at Bergen and Novgorod. The word Gildehalle' is probably of Old Saxon, or Anglo-Saxon origin, and the structure built, or at all events owned by Cologne may possibly go back to the times of Colonia Agrippini, when we know a considerable trade existed between that Roman city and Londinium.

In 1260 there is mention of the hall as situated in the parish of All Hallows (in parochia omnium sanciorum), but its locality in Dowgate, Downgate, or Dovegate ward does not appear before 1383. It lay on the bank of the Thames in close proximity to the ancient wall and fortifications already ruinous in the days of Henry II.

In all probability the wooden building was replaced by one of stone in the time of Henry III., in whose reign it was styled the house of the Easterlings. Even then the factory must have consisted of several houses and buildings, as we find in a taxing record of the period the phrase domus et mansiones in Warda de Dovegate. The new Gildhall was about 32 feet broad and 100 feet long ; it had communication with a quay. The façade faced Cosen's lane, and the building was provided with a tower in which the records of the association and valuable collection of silver plate were kept. It had accommodation for ambassadors and foreign deputations of importance, and was the place of meeting of the alderman and council of twelve. Near it stood the buden (booths) which provided dwellings for the merchants and their apprentices, then came the warehouses, offices, and stables.

The factory bad now grown too small for the accommodation required within its walls, and the State Papers contain many records and agreements concerning the acquisition of new ground, river frontage, and buildings, of which I quote a few :

Sir Thomas of Salisbury makes over to Reynand Loue, citizen of London, for £20 sterling, the buildings adjoining the quay in St. Dunstan's parish (1365).

Richard II. confirms the purchase of Sir Richard Lyon's house and quay (1383).

Richard Medford, bishop of Chichester, declares that he placed at the disposal of J. Northampton the houses used for dyeing, 2 houses by the stairs, and the cellar in Windgoos lane (1391).

Robert Comberton transfers to his son-in-law, Robert fitz Robert, jun., all his possessions in Dowgate ward (1410).

Th. Ferrars and others let the piece of ground and quay in Wind goos lane for 20 years for £66 13s. 4d. (1417).

The Hansa transfers to the citizens of London and Sergeant J. Russel the watch house in the Bishopsgate, and rent of the dwelling house in the same (1438).

The Hansa bought the five houses westwards in Windgos lane in 1475, but it was the house eastward in the same lane, acquired in 1384 with the steelyard,' that most likely gave the factory its latest designation, as at one time the royal weighing beam, for determining the weight of goods subject to duty, stood on this very spot. Indeed, it is quite likely that this very beam was retained in use by the Hansa merchants. The goverriment weighing station had been transferred to Cornhill, but the name steelyard (stilliard) continued to stick to the piece of land now taken possession of by the Hansa, and we find the Easterlings referred to in 1411 as the steelyard merchants. In my parent's home the household weighing beam was called the stilliard, and perhaps such machines are still so called ; but I greatly fear our housewives of to day do not use such things as much as their grandmothers did.

THE LONDON GUILDHALL.

245

There is evidence of steel, iron, and other goods being weighed here, and a tariff of charges fixed for the Hansa porters, dated 22nd February, 1449, mentions steel on its list of articles. Dr. Minscheus, in 1617, refers to the steelyard as a broad place or court where 'much steel is sold. The mention of steel in connection with steelyard, is, however, most probably a mere coincidence, still there remains some difficulty as to the derivation of the narue.

In the reign of Elizabeth the Gildhall, then known as the Old Hall, is described as a great stone building with three round doors to the street, the middle one being the largest, the others bricked up. Above the doors were placed the following inscriptions :

* Haec domus est laeta, semper honitate repleta;

Hic pax, hic requies, hic gaudia semper honesta.'
· Aurum blanditiae pater est natusque doloris ;
Qui caret hoc moeret, qui tenet, hic metuit.'

Qui bonis parere recusat, quasi vitato fumo in flammam incidit.'

The middle inscription also surmounted the celebrated picture by Holbein, painted about 1535, which adorned the dining hall. This picture was destroyed with the buildings in the Great Fire.

Next we have the dwelling of the housemaster, a stone building overlooking the Thames. Here was the great kitchen. Between this house and the Gildhall lay the garden, in which fruit trees and currant bushes flourished. Then comes Sir Richard Lyon's house, called the Rhenish wine house. In Nash's book (1592), Pierce penilesse his supplication to the divel, the lazy man says, “Let us goe to the Stilliard and drink Rhenish wine.' A few years later we read in one of Webster's plays, 'I come to intreat you to meet him this afternoon at the Rhenish winehouse in the Stilliard.' The rooms above the public drinking hall were sometimes used by ambassadors, and at the back of the house was a large apartment called the winter hall.' The summer-house lay on the Thames, and the remaining buildings consisted of booths, etc., as previously described. On an open space facing the river stood the big crane.

The factory was walled in as a provision against sudden attacks by mobs, and every man in the factory had his arms and was taught how to use them.

« السابقةمتابعة »