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Ordinance and Statute of the Staple
(1353)

On Monday next after the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of our lord, King Edward III ... , a great council was summoned at Westminster.... On which Friday the prelates, dukes, earls, barons, and commons, assembled in the White Chamber of our lord the king, were told ... the cause for the summons of the said council.... Considering which mischief, our lord the king, by the assent of certain prelates and lords of his said kingdom ... had ordained that the staple of wool, wool-fells, leather, and lead should be held in certain places within his kingdom of England and his lands of Wales and Ireland. And by the assent and advice of the said prelates and lords he had ordained for the maintenance and good government of the same staple certain particulars, which he caused to be read aloud before the prelates, lords, and commons, in order to obtain their assent. And [it was said] also that, if they wished to make any additions or subtractions, they should show [their desire] in writing. And thereupon the commons asked for a copy of the said particulars, which was given them that is to say, one [copy] for the knights of the shires and another for the citizens and burgesses. And they, after long deliberation among themselves, presented their opinion to the council in writing. And after this writing had been read and debated by the lords, the ordinances of the staple were drawn up in the form following:

Edward, by the grace of God king of England and France and lord of Ireland, to all our sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, ministers, and other faithful men to whom these present letters may come, greeting. Whereas good deliberation has been held with the prelates, dukes, earls, barons, knights of the shires that is to say, one from each for the whole shire and commons of cities and boroughs of our kingdom of England, summoned to our great council held at Westminster ... , concerning the damages which have been notoriously incurred by us and by the lords, as well as by the people of our kingdom of England and our lands of Wales and Ireland, because the staple of wool, leather, and wool-fells for our said kingdom and lands has been kept outside the said kingdom and lands; and also concerning the great profits that would accrue to our said kingdom and lands if the staple should be held within them and nowhere else: so, for the honour of God and the relief of our kingdom and lands aforesaid, and for the sake of avoiding the perils that otherwise may arise in times to come, by the counsel and common assent of the said prelates, dukes, earls, barons, knights, and commons aforesaid, we have ordained and established the measures hereinunder written, to wit:

First, that the staples of wool, leather, wool-fells and lead grown or produced within our kingdom and lands aforesaid shall be perpetually held in the following places: namely, for England at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York, Lincoln, Norwich, Westminster, Canterbury, Chichester, Winchester, Exeter, and Bristol; for Wales at Carmarthen; and for Ireland at Dublin, Waterford, Cork, and Drogheda, and nowhere else....

... For which grant our lord the king thanked the lords and commons. And then the said commons prayed the king that their petitions, which they had drawn up concerning divers grievances as well as benefits of his commons, should be answered. Which petitions our lord the king caused to be read and answered by the prelates, lords, and other men of his council in the following manner:

... Item, whereas certain articles touching the state of the king and the common benefit of his kingdom have been agreed and assented to by him, and by the prelates, lords, and commons of his land in this council just held; the said commons pray that the aforesaid articles shall be recited at the next parliament and entered in the roll of the same parliament, with the intent that the ordinances and agreements made in councils shall not be of record as if they had been made by a common parliament....

As to the tenth article, it is the king's pleasure that all the ordinances made concerning the staple shall be published and proclaimed in each county of England, and in each place where a staple is [situated], so that they may be firmly kept; and at the next parliament, for the sake of greater stability, they shall be rehearsed and entered in the roll of parliament....

Also the said commons in this parliament prayed that the ordinances of the staple, and all the other ordinances made at the last council ... , which they had examined with great care and deliberation, and which seemed to them good and advantageous for our lord the king and all his people, should be confirmed in this parliament and held as a statute to endure forever. To which prayer the king and all the lords unanimously agreed; to the effect that, whenever anything was to be added [to that statute], it should be added [in parliament], or whenever anything was to be subtracted, it should be subtracted in parliament, no matter at what time the need should arise, and never in any other fashion.
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