This article examines the role that correspondence played in the accounting systems of Tudor merchants. Merchants relied heavily on letters as a means of controlling their businesses at a distance by making agents accountable. Written accountability, as well as information for business decisions, was encouraged by agency relationships in mercantile enterprises. The system could be undermined by the breakdown of communication through the negligence of a factor or the lack of involvement by the principal. The time delays between the sending and the receipt of letters, on the one hand, and the procurement and conveyance of goods, on the other, were additional problems.

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