Role of London in international trade of England in 1500

By 1500, England was debatably the most economically advanced state in Europe. The nation had established a network of colonies among West Indies and North America where its merchants sent ships for trade. Goods exported to the colonies mainly comprised of woollen textiles; imported goods comprised of tropical groceries, tobacco and sugar. London being the capital city of England played several roles in enhancing international trade in England. This paper discusses these roles indicating how London’s strategic location aided England’s international trade.

One of the roles assumed by London is that it possessed a unique combination of commercial and institutional dominance. According to Eisenberg, its comparative size offered an advantage over other cities in Britain. This played a significant role in consistently attracting a higher proportion of national migrants who were ambitious and wealthy. The city was not only an institutional and intellectual centre but also an industrial driver of the economy nationally.

The strategic position of London offered England security. Its location next to Europe protected England from the economic and social damage arising from continental conflicts. The reputation of London for its safety placed it ahead of Amsterdam, the capital city of Netherlands. With the rise of city democracy and literacy in the 1500s, the city turned out to be a harbour for dissent, popular and later religious heretical doctrine. The proximity of London to Northwest Europe guaranteed England of accessible raw materials and fuel. It also enabled the England to receive and adapt to new ideas faster than other neighbouring cities.

Another role that London played in England’s international trade is that it tolerated different ways of practicing family and religious life. This was as a result of centuries of offering sanctuary to persecuted, poor and war-torn people. Its tolerance of various ways resulted in the build-up of relations during England’s imperial power. According to Brown, the city’s social, recreational and economic vibrancy was striking to skilled migrants since early 1200s. This migration demonstrated a vital driver of the growth of England in 1500. The city’s civic and business bodies became more conscious about its openness than before. This made the bodies effective advocates and campaigners of a competitive business climate.

London assumed numerous roles in enhancing international trade of England in 1500. Its unique combination of commercial and institutional dominance; its strategic position and its tolerance for different ways of practicing family and religious life were its key roles. These explain its profound presence in international trade to date.