Cloth-making became England's leading industry in the late Middle Ages; clothiers co-ordinated its different stages, in some cases carrying out the processes themselves, and found markets for their finished cloth, selling to merchants, drapers and other traders. While many clothiers were of only modest status or "jacks of all trades", a handful of individuals amassed huge fortunes through the trade, becoming the multi-millionaires of their day.
This book offers the first recent survey of this hugely important and significant trade and its practitioners, examining the whole range of clothiers across different areas of England, and exploring their impact within the industry and in their wider communities. Alongside the mechanics of the trade, it considers clothiers as entrepreneurs and early capitalists, employing workers and even establishing early factories; it also looks at their family backgrounds and their roles as patrons of church rebuilding and charitable activities. It is completed with extracts from clothiers' wills and a gazetteer of places to visit, making the book invaluable to academics, students, and local historians alike.
John S. Lee is a Research Associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York.