It can be said that it the thirteenth century, English foreign trade can be put in any of four categories. Trade with Scandinavia, with the Rhineland and the low countries, with France and with countries bordering the Mediterranean.
English society consisted mainly of farmers and fishermen, the result of which meant the majority of exports were of raw materials. At the time, it was considerably quicker to move goods by water than over land. As a result, surplus corn was shipped to France from eastern coastal ports while shortages existed in western England. Gascony was a principal target for English exports of dried and salted fish while salt was shipped across the North Sea to Norway and the Netherlands.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the most significant method of transporting goods was along the waterways of Europe. This meat along rivers such as the Danube, Rhine and Rhone. Until this time, trade in southern Germany had been mainly land-borne while northern cities had become rich as a result of sea trade. Gold, Silver and precious stones were shipped along the Danube and Rhine from Constantinople. As a result, southern cities such as Nuremburg and Cologne also became prosperous centres of commerce.
Traders from the north German towns of Lubeck and Danzig began to dominate trade in the Baltic area and took a lot of Scandinavian trade away from London. Scandinavian trade to England began to drift away from London as it was more convenient to use ports further north on the east coast.
Many trading opportunities appeared or disappeared as a result of political upheaval. The collapse of the Latin empire of Constantinople deprived Venice of the monopoly it had enjoyed on trade in the Aegean and Black seas.