Grant of a New Fair at Westminster, 1248
The merchant who attended a fair not only had to run the risk of inclement weather
but the possibility of the suspension of the fair by the king.
The king then declared it as his pleasure, and ordered it to be proclaimed by herald
throughout the whole city of London, and elsewhere, that he instituted a new fair to be
held at Westminster, to continue for a fortnight entire. He also strictly interdicted,
under penalty of heavy forfeiture and loss, all fairs which usually lasted for such a
length of time in England; for instance, that of Ely and other places, and all traffic
usually carried on at London, both in and out of doors, in order that by these means the
Westminster fair might be more attended by people, and better supplied with
merchandise.... But all the merchants, in exposing their goods for sale there, were
exposed to great inconveniences, as they had no shelter except canvas tents; for owing to
the changeable gusts of wind assailing them, as is usual at that time of the year, they
were cold and wet, and also suffered from hunger and thirst; their feet were soiled by the
mud, and their goods rotted by the showers of rain....
From: Matthew of Paris, English History, trans. J. A. Giles, (London, 1852),
Vol. II, p. 272, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for
Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed.,
New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 124-125.
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