19 AUGUST 1905, Page 23

Letter-Book G., Temp. Edward HI. Edited by Reginald R. Sharpe,

D.C.L. (J. E. Francis.)—This is one of the series of "Letter-Books" preserved in the archives of the City of London. It covers the period A.D. 1352-1374. It is scarcely necessary to say that it is full of matter of much social and political interest. The long war with France and the question of labour may be said to dominate the whole, though, of course, there are numberless details about commercial matters of all kinds. In 1356 the battle of Poitiers was won. The victory makes characteristic appearances in the Letter-book. The Black Prince sent an account to the Mayor and Aldermen,—it is not given here as being accessible elsewhere. On Christmas Eve we have the record of a ransom paid by a Burgundy Knight, taken prisoner in the battle, to Simon de Worsted, mercer, acting for Sir William Betesby, the captor,—a silver cup and lid, a gold ring, and three hundred Florentine gold florMs. It was a good stroke of business for Sir William, the coin alone being about £3,000 of our money. In 1364 King John of France seems to have been in great straits for money, and the City made a collection for him. Dr. Sharpe calls it "a small sum of money," but the amount was £452 16s.,—nearly as much as had been raised eight years before by a levy of "two-thirds of a fifteenth" on the whole City. It is noticeable that in this levy the Wards which paid most were Chepe and Cordewanerstile, both assessed at £18 10s. 8d. (This gives a total assessment of £1,092, the assessment of the whole of the City being £10,576.) To this donation to the King the chief contributors among the Companies were : Fishmongers, Mercers, and Drapers, SAO ; Vintners, .233 6s. 8d.; Grocers, £26 6s. 8d.; Goldsmiths and Tailors, £20. The attempts to regulate wages and prices are very curious. Masons were to have between Easter and Michaelmas 6d. the day, and between Michaelmas and Easter 5d. The Saturday half-holiday was in force, for it is provided that "if they work by the week," they are to have a whole day's pay. Any one who paid more was fined 40s.; any one who received more was imprisoned forty days. " Verney° " wine was not to cost more than 2s. ; Malmsey and other kinds, 16d. ; and Gascony, 8d. ; a gallon of the best ale, 2d. ; and making a fowl or rabbit pasty, ld.