James Davis

«They knawe it wele ynogh». The stratification and discrimination of regrators in the medieval English marketplace

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The status of commercial participants was continually evaluated by medieval civic authorities, determining their spatial and temporal access to markets. The regulatory evidence from market towns of late medieval England encapsulates the reasoning behind such discrimination and how marketplaces were shaped to reflect inequalities of status. However, commercial stratification was also expressed through everyday practice and negotiation, enabling forms of reappraisal, compromise or even conflict. This paper looks particularly at the lowliest group of retailers – the regraters and hucksters – and how processes of stratification and certification reinforced their place in the commercial hierarchy. Whether it was in municipal regulations, presentments in urban courts or exclusion from certain locations, regraters were continually marked out for suspicion and surveillance.

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