“Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.”
Duke of Wellington
IN 1374 KATHERINE DUCHEWOMAN, who “wrought up the loom … false work” made “of linen thread but covered with wool … against the ordinances the trade”, had her cloth (“4 yards in length and 7 quarters in breadth”) burned before her eyes. John Penrose, having sold wine “‘unsound and unwholesome for man’ was forced to drink a draught of the same and have the remainder poured over his head”.1
The medieval guilds of Europe were extremely powerful. Anyone wishing to work as a craftsman had to invest all their assets in the guild; membership was for life and involved the whole family. Moreover, as the unfortunate Duchewoman and Penrose discovered, ...