Edward I, the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ was equally remorseless with wolves, ordering their total extermination. His concern was more the safety of his revenues than that of his subjects. Wolves ate sheep, and tax on wool exports was the ‘jewel in the realm’, chief source of royal income. England produced the finest wool in Europe, and the finest wool in England came from the Welsh borders, East Anglia, Lincoln and the West Country. The wool trade brought the Hanseatic merchants to London, congregating around an association of Flemish merchants who exported to the centres of weaving in Bruges, Ghent and Ypres. The aftermath of the Barons’ War (1264–67) almost halted the wool trade, but once Edward I restored stability (and removed wolves) average exports rose to around 25,000 sacks per year by 1300. The trade also attracted Italian money men like Francesco Pegolotti from Florence, who exported wool and imported oil and wine.
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