'Long Shanks' better known as King Edward l ruled England from 1272 till 1307. He acquired the nick name because of his height 6' 2" or 1.88 m (which was considered to be gigantic in those days.) Eager to expand his territory His Majesty engaged in wars against both Wales and Scotland.
During this period there was a high demand for English wool, (particularly from Flemish weavers.) Seeing a great opportunity In 1275 His Royal Highness imposed a tax of £3 per bag on the export of wool (almost a 40% tax on each bag.) In 1298 this tax was doubled! Not surprisingly smuggling wool 'out of the country' became popular.
In 1428 John Roger (from the county of Dorset) was arrested and tried for smuggling wool. He was denied a trial by jury because the Privy Council recognized that the 'wool tax' was so disliked that no local jury would convict him.Instead he was fined 200 marks.
The nursery rhyme Ba Ba Black Sheep is believed to have been written as a protest against this Medieval tax. Click here to play the song on The Shellies balloons.
In The Wealth of Nations 1776 the father of modern economics Adam Smith defended the practice of smuggling as a legitimate activity in the face of 'unnatural' legislation.