'At the sygne of the cardynalle's hat' : the book trade and the market for books in Yorkshire, c. 1450-1550
This case study of the production and use of books in Yorkshire in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries has two main aims. The first aim is to investigate the relationship between book production and book ownership in Yorkshire during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Unlike the methodology of this thesis, previous studies have usually studied the book trade and the market for books separately. By focusing on both book production and use, this study shows that it is not usually possible to argue from the evidence of one to the other. In order to comprehend both book trade networks and the reading public they served, it is necessary to investigate them together. The second aim of this thesis is to investigate how the book trade was affected by socio-economic and religious changes, in particular, the early years of the Reformation and the new technology of print. Using the evidence of the franchise register of York and guild ordinances and other sources, I show that speculative book production in York became more important after the advent of print. As a result of the self-protecting activities of the London booksellers and printers, however, by the mid-sixteenth century the York book trade was predominantly a service industry. Some previous studies have argued that major changes also took place in levels of literacy and methods of reading during this period. Yet the evidence of Yorkshire wills and inventories indicates that the early religious reforms and the advent of print did not affect the ownership of books to any significant extent. A straight-forward contrast between manuscript culture and print culture is therefore too simplistic and we must consider the variety of ways in which books were acquired and used.