Thursday, 26 March 2015

King Richard III friend and protector of Salespeople and Brand Marketers #MuseumWeek @NPGLondon

"Jack of Norfolk, be not too bold,
For *Dickon, thy master, is bought and sold."

*King Richard III may have been known as "Dickon", according to a sixteenth-century legend of a note, warning of treachery, that was sent to the Duke of Norfolk on the eve of the battle of Bosworth Field

 The bones of King Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) are to be interred in Leicester Cathedral Thursday 26th March.

  The people of Leicester have taken this son of York to their hearts. King Richard III  reigned for only 26 months.

The villain that Shakespeare presents us with is much tainted by Tudor propaganda. We are learning to review Richard’s life – and maybe re-interpret history.

You are not permitted to photograph in
  the Tudor section of the National Portrait Gallery
so I went to the computer lounge at NPG to take this photo
What was  selling like in 15th Century England? 

Selling  and Buying continues during War. It was so in the War of the Roses.

 Some historians argue that the War of the Roses between the Houses of York ( White Rose) and Lancaster (Red Rose) had little impact  on much of England. For example it barely affected East Anglia.

 Richard’s title was Dei Gratia Rex Angliae et Franciae et Dominus Hiberniae tr. “by the Grace of God, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland.

Sales exporting during the 15th century .

 The ancient and most active trade route was to the Low Countries , our nearest neighbours and commercial hub of Europe. Less active but with considerable potential led by English merchants were Brittany and Normandy. Despite times of war and piracy trade never completely ceased.  The ports of Chichester, Plymouth and Fowey were busy.

Beyond Brittany lay the vineyards of Poitou, Aquitaine and Gascony  . The exclusive specialisation of wine production led to a dependence for the area of foreign supplies of grain . In business Gascony was second only to the trade with Flanders.

Beyond Bordeaux and Bayonne there were the sweet wines , exotic fruits and other oriental luxuries. Merchants developed their business with the western Iberian coast especially Portugal.

Trade with the Mediterranean was mainly transacted through Italy.

Expansion of trade with Scandinavia and later with Iceland grew through the century. 

However during the 14th and 15th centuries this market penetration through the Baltics met with resistance both political and economic  of the Hanseatic league.

Trade embargoes by the Hanseatic League 1469 to 1474 led by Danzig and Lubeck supported by Bremen and Hamburg  was not uniform . Cologne still traded with England even during the six year war with the league . (Richard would have been 22 years old at the time.)  The later part of the 15th century ,trade with the Hansaetic league represented 40% of all trade mostly conducted through London and Southampton.

  The war concluded with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1474 which confirmed the Hansa privileges and granted the League ownership of the London Steelyard, as well as the trading bases in Boston and Lynn.

The Customs records reveal much of information about business at the time that historians can use.

By volume wool was the key export through much of the 15th century.

Photo of computer screen at the
 National Portrait Gallery, London
Business friendly King

Our political leaders in their current electioneering are trying to persuade us that their parties are "business friendly." Of course promises are one thing action quite another.

On 23 January, 1484, Richard's Parliament assembled. It passed 18 private statutes and 15 public ones.

Some of these statutes give us a picture of what selling was like back then.  Early versions of law are evidenced on Quality of Goods, Standardisation, duties to protect national business etc.

The 8th statute:

"The length and breadth of cloths, and the order of dyeing them and wools" sought to prevent commercial dishonesty in the cloth trade. Included in the technical details are 9 safeguards. For example “Broadcloth must be fully watered before being put up for sale and must be 24 yards long, 2 yards broad. No "deceitful thing" is to be cast on cloth, and no chalk is to be used on white cloths.”

 This statute indicates the powerful measure of Richard III's thoroughness, his insight into technical processes, and, above all, his appreciation of the necessity to keep in close touch and consultation with technical and commercial experts.

By the following October 25, King Richard, at the request of merchants, the cancellation of this statute was announced because " hurt more than it helped."  Unintended consequences brought about pragmatic revision of the statute it appears.

 Statutes 9-13 of the 1284 law sought to protect the English merchant against unfair foreign competition

The 9th statute: "In.. what sort Italian merchants may sell merchandises; several restraints of aliens."

This regulated the conditions under which these merchants could import and export goods. Books and the printing of them were exempted from these restrictions.

"To Richard and his councillors belongs the honour of having devised the first piece of legislation for the protection and fostering of the art of printing and the dissemination of learning by books."

I wonder whether those at the London Book Fair might acknowledge Richard’s part in their trade during-16 April 2015 at Olympia.

The 10th statute prohibited the importation of silk, lace and ribbons, scissors, bells, nails, etc.

The 11th statute required Italian merchants to import with each butt of malmsey ten good bowstaves.

The  12th  statute:

 "Certain marchandizes prohibited to be brought into this realm ready wrought."  This was designed to protect native craftsmen.

The 13th   statute: "the contents of vessels of wine and oil, which may not be sold till gauged"  This was  designed to prevent the sale of wine and oil in short measure and for excessive price.

Early formalising of Branding

Forerunner to corporate  logos and banners flags – Heraldic Coats of Arms

College of Arms in 1484 they were granted a charter of incorporation by Richard III, and given a house in Coldharbour in Upper Thames Street, London to keep their records in.
When Henry VII defeated Richard and took the crown in 1485 he wrested Coldharbour from the heralds and gave it to his mother!

The College of Arms received the charter under which they now operate from Queen Mary and her husband Philip of Spain in 1555, together with the site of the present College of Arms on which then stood Derby Place. This building was the College of Arms until it burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The present College building dates from the 1670s.

Wool was a key trade. The Speaker of the House of Lords to this day still sits on the Wool sack a reminder of Wool’s important past in the English economy.
Still the largest commodity  by volume by 1446 was a declining export due to the rise of our own manufacturing base. Wool reduced by a third yet export of our broadcloth increased ninefold.

15th Century Advertising and PR
Advertising in was in its infancy with the copy writers being poets of the time. (This particular verse sent the red lining spelling correction on Word 8 into a ‘tizzy’ !)

Off Brutish Albion his wolle is cheeff richesse
In prys summounting avery other thing
Sauff greyn and corn : merchantis al expresse
Woolle is chief tresoure in this land growying
To Riche and poore this beeste fyrt clothying
All Naciouns afferme up to the fulle
In all the world there is no better wolle

In the window of  the house of one John Barton of Holme, Newark is the following ‘jingle’

I thank God and ever shall
It is the sheep hath payed for all

Talking of windows , I love the creative opportunism
of this shop window of a store in Leicester this week

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