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Bonfires And Threatening Words

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Chapter Summary

The actual or potential involvement of merchants as intermediaries in heresy dissemination was bound to draw attention to laws intended to regulate them. And this in turn brought into focus the obligations, whether clearly defined or implied, of bilateral treaties of commercial intercourse. In England, according to ancient charters, merchants from Hanse towns paid lower customs rates than denizens and other aliens. Chancellor Wolsey nevertheless could threaten to curtail or revoke liberties on almost any pretext. It is possible that the humiliation of a handful of individuals and the prospect of financial consequences for the entire fellowship caused some to be more judicious about what they read or kept in their chambers. Yet for all his threatening words, Wolsey knew that anything more severe, especially collective punishment in the form of tough economic sanctions against the Hanse would bring about a diplomatic breach with potentially grave domestic repercussions.

Keywords: Chancellor Wolsey; commercial intercourse; Hanse towns; heresy dissemination; threatening words; tough economic sanctions



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