Money lending was an essential part of the local and regional economies of England during the later medieval and Tudor periods. Cash was required for purchases of goods, animals, or land, payment of rents and taxes, and the wages of hired workers. People who lacked money to cover these expenses between 1300 and 1600 commonly resorted to borrowing. Borrowing thus might be undertaken for purposes of either consumption or investment. Further, during much of the later medieval period and occasionally during the Tudor years specie was in short supply. Even a man of some wealth might find himself without sufficient currency on hand to cover his immediate needs. In nearly all cases late medieval and Tudor loans were for short terms, for periods ranging from a few weeks to six months. Interest was normally charged on local loans, although the amount was concealed due to the Church's prohibition of usury.
Money lending was particularly important within commercialized areas—the major cities and their economic hinterlands. The region lying within a radius of about twenty miles from London formed one of the most thoroughly commercialized parts of the country. By the fourteenth century people living on the periphery of the capital were deeply involved in furnishing consumer goods to London. Agriculture among middling and larger tenants focused upon market sale; craftsmen sometimes sold to citizens as well as to their own neighbors. Late medieval London was surrounded by a ring of at least thirty-two market towns located within twenty miles of the capital. These markets served to channel grain, animals, fuel, and craft items into the city while also functioning as centers of trade for their own areas. In the market communities around London the extent of trade was unusually large and the economic sophistication of local people unusually high. Cash was the medium of accounting for all transactions and the medium of exchange for the great majority of them. It is not surprising that money lending played an especially significant role in this area.