Lifelong Learning Lectures
This talk will examine the medieval clothier, and his (or occasionally her) work in both the making and marketing of cloth.
Cloth-making became England’s leading industry in the later Middle Ages. Clothiers co-ordinated its different stages, in some cases carrying out the processes themselves, and in others engaging out-workers. They also searched out markets for their cloth, selling to merchants, drapers and other traders. Many clothiers were of only modest status or ‘jacks of all trades’, but a handful of individuals amassed huge fortunes and became the multi-millionaires of their day.
Clothiers have been considered entrepreneurs and early capitalists, as they employed workers and some even established early factories. They also played a major role as patrons of church rebuilding and charitable activities, and this talk will examine the extent of their impact on medieval English communities.
John Lee has interests in the economy and society of medieval England, focusing on trade, markets, and local communities. He has taught a range of courses on these themes for the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York. He is also a Research Associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies. His book, The Medieval Clothier, was published by Boydell last year.