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Merchants Adventurers

company, trade and century

MERCHANTS ADVENTURERS. An Eng lish conlitany organized in late inediwval times for carrying on foreign trade. Its constitution was that of a regulated company (q.v.), any one having a right to join in the trade upon payment j of a fine and agreement to submit to the regula tions of the company. The date of its incorpora lion is not known, but privileges were granted to it by the Count of Flanders as early as the fourteenth century. The principal business of the company was the export of cloth; and it exacted regular contributions from all persons who exported cloth to countries covered by its privileges. In the sixteenth century the chief work in extending English foreign trade was per formed by this company. When the Portuguese made Antwerp the depot for Oriental wares. the Merchants Adventurers grew rapidly in wealth, since their goods could tied a ready sale for the Eastern trade. In the same century the com pany began a long war with the traders of the League (q.v.), who were infringing

upon their nionopoly of the export of woolen goods. The Hansentie traders were nt first pro tected by the Crown. but finally were driven from England by a decree of Queen Elizabeth. With the siege and capture of Antwerp by the Spaniards (1.384-83). the Merchants Adventurers had to find new centres for carrying on their for eign trade, and finally settled in Hamburg. be coming known as the Hamburg, Company. Much of the historical importance of the :Merchants Adventurers lies in the fact that their 1011 served as a model for the great forei;:n ing companies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See COMPANIES.

ThintocatAmtv. For a brief account of the Merchants Adventurers, see article rers. in Palgrave, 1)h-tionary of Po litico/ Economy (London, 1894). A more ex tended diseussion will be found in Lingelhaeli. The Merchant Adrenturcrs of England (Phila. delphia, 1903).