Where history happened: Tudor smuggling

Evan Jones, senior lecturer in economic and social history at the University of Bristol, explores the murky world of smuggling in the 16th century and examines nine related places

The replica of 'The Matthew' arriving at Douarnenez, France in 1998. It was on the original 15th-century vessel that John Cabot travelled to North America. (Getty Images)

This article was first published in the July 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine 

Imagine a smuggler of past centuries and you’ll probably find yourself picturing a scene out of the 18th century: perhaps a moonlit boat bringing brandy into a deserted cove, or armed revenue men raiding a hideout for contraband. Smuggling in the Tudor period, by contrast, was a much more commercial affair. The men who conducted it were mostly sober merchants, rather than desperate criminals, and their chief weapons were their account books and purses.

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