During the Middle Ages, the granting of markets rights by kings and other rulers was a tremendously important economic privilege, whether it concerned permanent, weekly or annual markets.
Besides the merchants, the cities and sovereigns benefited from levies and duties.
Usually, market rights were awarded along with city rights. The right of coinage was commonly awarded at the same moment as well.
Flags or crosses marked the market square, where usually the town hall was located. Market peace was protected by the ruler.
Unlike in continental Europe, market crosses were rather common in England. These were often not merely crosses, but open, accessible buildings with rich sculpture, such as the Gothic “cross” in Salisbury.
This city even had four crosses for just as many submarkets. In addition to the "poultry cross", there were also crosses for cheese and wool. These structures demonstrated the wealth of the local citizens and merchants.