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Church to see these precepts enforced. Thus, it was supposed to be the teaching of Scripture that usury was sinful; and accordingly usury was systematically forbidden by the canons of the Church. But it was mainly through the peculiar relations which subsisted between the different countries and between the different communities in the same country that the specific characteristics of the mediæval economy had their origin. The prime consideration throughout the Middle Ages was security and self-defence. The universal existence of some form of bulwark round the towns and cities is the cogent proof of this fundamental necessity. These defences, as we have seen, were requisite for the double purpose of protection from actual violence, and of guarding the trade privileges of each separate community from invasion by its rivals. By the attitude of mutual antagonism between town and town, and nation and nation, and even class against class, industry and trade and commerce were alike held in swaddling bands, the bursting of which was indispensable for their free development. In the sixteenth century the snapping of these bonds proceeded with a rapidity which, in certain countries, effected nothing less than an economic revolution. Let us see to what extent the process went forward in Scotland in the time of Mary.
The most striking development of the sixteenth century was the transition from a merely municipal to a national basis in the operations of trade and commerce. Hitherto each town had formed an isolated economic centre, regulating its own internal interests, and its relations to the rest of the world. Thus, it had been in the power of each town to determine the prices of all commodities without reference to any external authority. In England, in the sixteenth century, this power was definitively withdrawn from the towns, and thenceforward it was the State that regulated prices for the country at large. The transference of this privilege from the town to the State was one of the most important steps towards a new economic system, implying, as it did, the conception of national and not merely municipal trade relations. In Scotland, however, the adoption of the new arrangement for fixing prices was by no means so complete as in England. In 1581, considerably, therefore, after the time of Mary, the Scottish Parliament ratified all previous Acts regarding the regulation of prices, and thus gave its full sanction to the mediæval system." Nevertheless, there were indications that the example of England had to a certain extent been followed in Scotland. In 1550, for example, the Privy Council took a step which involved the nullification of the prescriptive claim of the towns to fix all prices. This step was taken, we are told, “because of the great dearth risen in this realm of all manner of stuff, as well horse meat as men's meat, and the exorbitant prices used thereupon and taken therefore." ; The measure adopted for remedying the evil was the appointment of a commission, which was to take into its counsels “four honest men of the burgh of Edinburgh," and with their aid to put such prices on all victuals as would ensure the wellbeing of the queen's lieges. From a protest by the Town Council of Edinburgh in 1556 we further learn that the Privy Council had been infringing the privileges of the towns in the article of regulating prices. The Privy Council, it appears, had passed an Act fixing the price of wine, and the protest urged that by Parliamentary statute this privilege belonged to the burghs alone.3 From these and other indications we gather that there was a disposition on the part of the State to make the regulation of prices a national and not a municipal concern. Yet, to all intents and purposes, the mediæval practice, which assigned to each community the right of fixing the prices of all commodities, was still the general rule in Scotland in the time of Mary.
In another direction we find England breaking away from the mediæval economy, while Scotland held fast to its traditions. By a statute of Edward VI., passed in 1547, the English craft guilds received their death-blow, and industry was thus in great degree freed from the trammels that had hitherto impeded its development. Whereas none but freemen had been allowed to practise a craft, anyone who possessed the requisite skill was now at
liberty to pursue his special calling. He could pass from town to town, and without opposition take up his quarters where he pleased and earn his livelihood as best he might. Under the new conditions a still more important result followed. Foreign artisans, bringing their special skill with them, settled in the country; and we even find certain English towns competing for their presence. In Scotland there was little development in this direction. The Scottish crafts, we have seen, had never been more powerful than they were in the time of Mary, and never were they more rigid in their exclusiveness towards "unfree” craftsmen, In their opposition to unfreemen the crafts had for the most part the hearty support of the Town Councils. Confining ourselves to the action of Edinburgh, whose policy was that of all the other Scottish burghs, we have such indications as the following of the stringent dealing with unprivileged persons. In 1552 the dean of guild received orders to close the booths of all unfreemen ;4 and
* in 1554 foreign traders frequenting Leith were forbidden to retail their wares in Edinburgh except at a fixed time and place.5 In 1559, the bonnetmakers of Edinburgh bitterly protested that their trade was being ruined by unfreemen from Perth and other burghs, and the Town Council gave ear to their protest and forbade the intruders to sell their bonnets in Edinburgh except on market days, according “to use and wont."6
While this was the general policy of the Town Councils, however, there are indications that more liberal notions were beginning to prevail. Thus, in 1562, the bonnet-makers were informed that “in case it pleased the goodness of God” to give greater skill to strangers in the making of hose, sleeves, and gloves, these strangers should be allowed to practise their craft in the interest of the lieges.? In the opening years of James VI.'s reign we find still more decisive proofs that the conception of free industry was making its way in Scotland. In 1574, a Frenchman, described as a “writtar," was actually permitted to settle in Edinburgh for the purpose of teaching “the art of reading, writing, the French tongue, arithmetic, and accounts.” In the case of the crafts of wrights and masons the magistrates pronounced a notable decision in 1587. Certain bakers in the town, resenting the exorbitant charges exacted by the free masons and wrights, had dared to employ unfree craftsmen to build an oven in Gray's Close. Quite in the modern fashion, the free masons and wrights “intimidated ” the unfreemen from proceeding with their work, and the dispute was referred to the Town Council. The decision of the Council was that the unfree masons should complete the work they had begun, and that in all time coming such persons should be employed “when wrights and masons became unreasonable in their prices.", The
year following its judgment against the