GHDI logo

Edict Protecting the Brandenburg Woolens Industry (March 30, 1687)

Before the Industrial Revolution, when cotton grew in importance, sheep’s wool was the basic raw material for the clothing trade. With this edict, Frederick William’s government aimed to discourage the export of raw wool. The edict also sought to minimize imports of finished cloth, except for luxury wares (which the propertied elites were used to buying from foreign producers), so as to maximize opportunities for local textile artisans. Other initiatives by Frederick William imposed similar restrictions on salt, glass, and metalwares. Such legislation typified the mercantilism of the age.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 5

Edict on the Prohibited Purchase and Sale of Wool Importation of Cloth and Stuffs from Abroad, and Improvement of the Woolens Industry

March 30, 1687

We, Frederick William, by grace of God Margrave in Brandenburg, Imperial High Chamberlain and Elector, etc.,

do hereby convey and make known to all and every of Our loyal subjects, to the Prelates, Counts, Lords, Knights, Captains and Crown Agents, Commissioners, assessors, tax collectors, clerks, Burgomasters and Councillors in towns and villages, directors of customs and collectors of excise, also receivers of customs and mounted police, also employees, clerks, and bailiffs on the lands of nobles and others, and to all and every inhabitant of Our Electorate and Mark of Brandenburg whom it may concern:

Although Our forefathers now at rest and in particular His Highness, Our father of glorious memory did, in reply to the repeated submissive representations and complaints of the clothmakers and wool weavers of Our Electorate and Mark of Brandenburg over the pre-emption and buying up of wool which has for a considerable time gone on there, to their great detriment and loss, in that certain merchants, tailors and others, and even in part persons without fixed abode who do not even bear part of the national burden, and also speculators possessed of foreign currency and likewise Jews, have presumed to journey about the country and to preempt the wool, even before the shearing, from nobles, priests, village mayors and clerks, peasants and shepherds and afterward to smuggle it illicitly out of the country, strictly forbid this, as long ago as the Monday after Trinity, 1611, by Edicts published throughout the land, and afterwards issued all manner of other salutary enactments for the improvement and development of the cloth industry, which We also, being desirous that such malpractices should cease, have on various occasions, such as on the twenty-fourth of May, 1641, the thirtieth of May, 1660 and the sixth of May, 1676, expressly repeated and ordered to be brought to the universal notice –

first page < previous   |   next > last page