Merchant Adventurers

Merchant Adventurers,

name given originally to all merchants in England who engaged in export trade, but later applied to loosely organized groups of merchants in the major ports concerned with exporting cloth to the Netherlands. They were incorporated as a trading company in 1407. Originally the company's activities centered in Bruges, but in 1446 it obtained trading privileges from the duke of Burgundy and established its staple (i.e., trading center) at Antwerp. Despite strong competition from the Hanseatic LeagueHanseatic League
, mercantile league of medieval German towns. It was amorphous in character; its origin cannot be dated exactly. Originally a Hansa was a company of merchants trading with foreign lands.
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, whose dominance in the Baltic caused the exclusion of the Merchant Adventurers from that area, the company flourished, established depots in several cities, and in 1560 was given the monopoly on exporting cloth to W Germany and the Netherlands. It continued to prosper throughout the 16th and 17th cent., although political rivalries forced it to move its staple to Hamburg (1567) and Dordrecht (1655). The company was dissolved in 1808.


See E. M. Carus-Wilson, Medieval Merchant Venturers (2d ed. 1967).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Merchant Adventurers


one of the oldest English trading companies; exporters of cloth. It was established as an independent company in 1406 by a charter from Henry IV. In 1407 the Merchant Adventurers founded its first factory, in Antwerp; this city became the company’s main storage base. The center for its activity was London, and London merchants dominated the company. Structured on the share principle, it represented an embryonic form of joint-stock company. A major competitor of the Hanseatic League, it acquired increasing importance in European trade as the latter declined. In the early 17th century the company made Hamburg its main base. In the second half of the 17th century it lost its monopoly of the cloth trade. It ceased to exist in 1808.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
There Caxton steadily rose in importance until he became "Governor of the English Nation beyond the seas." As Governor he had great power, and ruled over his merchant adventurers as if he had been a king.
Contents: Merchant Adventurers * The Early Settlement * Growth and Prosperity * The Rule of the Nabobs * Imperial Splendor * The Merchant Princes * Victorian Calcutta * Sources * Maps & Illustrations
FOLLOWING the two Sunday performances of the tales at 1.30pm and 3,30pm the audience will be given a guided tour of the building, including the Grand Hall, the Mayor's Parlour, the Town Court and the Merchant Adventurers room.
The land around the hall was acquired by the Ellisons, a family of merchant adventurers from Newcastle.
"They were the investors, directors, stakeholders and principal merchant adventurers in all of the Company's first voyages of discovery and enterprise that came to be known as the Spice Wars.
MERCHANT ADVENTURERS: The Voyage of Discovery that Transformed Tudor England
It seems clear enough that enslaved Africans were initially brought to England (and Scotland) by early merchant adventurers. Most conventional accounts tend to focus on the African and American voyages of Elizabethan voyagers and explorers, and some have personified the narrative through the life of Sir John Hawkins.
But there are some hidden gems that you'll only find by taking a wrong turn - such as the wonderfully-named Merchant Adventurers Hall.
The earliest example in the English-speaking world is the Company of Merchant Adventurers of England for the Discovery of Lands Unknown.
I welcome this opportunity to respond to Douglas Hunter s review of A Fleeting Empire: Early Stuart Britain and the Merchant Adventurers to Canada and begin by noting a point of agreement.
This trip of a lifetime is to celebrate Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer's heritage, when the Scots merchant adventurers pioneered trade with the Far East and where it still sources its ginger.
The other contenders in the category all in North Yorkshire - Barley Hall and the Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York, Rievaulx Abbey at Helmsley and Ripley Castle at Ripley.