Calais, possession of

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Calais, possession of. Calais was in English hands from its capture by Edward III in 1347 to its loss in 1558. It was essentially a ‘little bit of England overseas’, being represented in the English Parliament from 1536. Soon after its capture, some of the French were expelled and English settlement was deliberately encouraged. Thenceforward, the town's officials, garrison, and merchants were almost exclusively drawn from the homeland. Its strategic significance was as both an outer defence for England and a base for campaigns into France, but it proved a constant drain on English resources. It was heavily defended, often housing 1,000 troops alongside a civilian population of c.5,000. It also played a key role as the staple through which all exported wool had to be directed. As a result, its company of merchants became increasingly powerful in the government and financing of the town.

Anne Curry

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