Trade between Scotland and the Low Countries in the later Middle Ages
This thesis aims to provide the first in depth study of the nature, extent and influence of Scottish trade links with the medieval counties of Flanders, Artois, Holland and Zealand and the duchy of Brabant. Previous studies concentrated almost entirely on institutional aspects and made little use of statistical data. Nor was attention paid to wider social and political implications. The thesis traces the development of trade links from their historical beginnings in the twelfth century until the year 1513, concentrating particularly on the more detailed evidence available in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It establishes that medieval Scotland was transformed by the growing demand in Flanders and Artois for wool, and that it was upon the wool trade with this area that Scottish mercantile institutions were founded and Scotland's cash economy was based. The thesis discusses the changing organisation, compositionand direction of Scottish trade over this period, commercial practices, costs and modes of transport. A close link is established between Scotland's foreign policies at this period and Scottish economic interests. It is shown that the Auld Alliance with France stemmed directly from Flanders' states as a county within the French kingdom. Flanders is identified as the source of supply of most Scottish armaments, and indeed of most manufactures, from the end of the thirteenth century onwards. It is suggested that the evidence of Scottish prices and customs returns points to a marked climatic deterioration in the late Middle Ages, as postulated by certain historical geographers. The Scottish economy reached a pinnacle of prosperity in thelater thirteenth century and then declined consistently thereafter until the late fifteenth century, when great efforts were made to encourage native crafts and when important new markets were developed in France and the Baltic.