An old saw in economics has it that England was always more liberal than the rest of Europe, because in Spain the penalty for exporting one sheep was death - whereas in Elizabethan England the death penalty was reserved for a second offence. First offence, they just cut off a hand.
As I understand it, this had more to do with a particular breed – the famed Merino – than with just any old sheep. The Merino line was a closely guarded treasure of Spain through which they cornered the market on textiles and on which much of their economy depended. A state secret, if you will.
We have a registered flock of Rambouillet which are the descendents of the original 459 Merino sheep given to Louis XVI of France in 1789, right before he lost his head. This export was significant, not just in the resulting Rambouillet breed, but that it signaled the end of Spain’s dominance in the world of wool.
Yes, it had something to do with technological secrets in Spain. And indeed, the Merino remains an important animal. If you wanted to hang on to the technology it was certainly going to be more difficult than it was for silk.
I’ve found a cite for the English law:
(If you have access to online journals, this is M.L. TRUU “Where was Economics When the Renaissance Happened?” South African Journal of Economics Volume 57 Page 241-250 - December 1989) I think I’ll have to go the physical library to look up Heckscher.
I realise that my question is pretty obscure and that there may indeed be no records anywhere that would answer it, so I won’t be miffed if this again sinks like a stone.