I know that Robert Devereux was given a monopoly on sweet wine following the death of Robert Dudley, his step-father and the previous holder of this monopoly, but I recently read that Sir Christopher Hatton was also given a monopoly on wine in general (Tudor textbook mentioning Hatton's monopoly). Would Devereux's monopoly not have impinged upon Hatton's? Thank you!

1 Answer 1


Haha well, Rex is Lex! The king (or mayhap queen) sold you monopolies. If they then sold an overlapping monopoly to someone else, you couldn't do a thing about it. It was also known for the sovereign to sell a monopoly and then sell exemptions from same.

You can read about it in the the King's Peace. It was not possible to challenge the sovereign's decisions in court. So yes, maybe the monopolies did overlap, but the only thing keeping the sovereign honest was that people would not buy monopolies from them if they took the mickey too much and granted exemptions willy-nilly. They could bend it quite a lot though.

Possibly relevant: sweet wine wasn't invented to suit the palates of people who don't like dry wine. It's called dessert wine because it used to be drunk standing up while diners left the table - deserted it - to allow servants to clear up. I don't know whether Hatton traded both kinds, but they were consumed differently, so maybe part of the explanation is that they weren't the same thing.

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    Of course, in the cases of Devereux & Hatton mentioned in the question, the monarch granting the monopoly was Elizabeth I, so "the king" in this context should really be "the queen". Dec 3, 2019 at 10:41
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    Oh yeah, duh...
    – Ne Mo
    Dec 3, 2019 at 10:52
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    Might be worth pointing out that the market for wine and sweet wine only have a small overlap. For most palates, sweet wine is very cloying except when served with a desert, and [regular] wine is far too acidic to be enjoyed with a desert. Not everyone agrees, but that is the standard usage. They are also made from different grape varieties, and grown in separate climes: sweet wine grapes are grown in a colder climate (think northern Rhine Valley and Niagara Peninsula) than regular wine grapes. Dec 3, 2019 at 12:38

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