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Fair, annual

(1,349 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. Introduction An annual fair (German Jahrmarkt), also called kermis, was a market with a regional catchment area, held once or several times a year and thereby distinguished both from the weekly market [9. 147, 149] and from the trade fair, whose focus was wider, even international. Like the trade fair (German  Messe), the annual fair - which took place at a designated marketplace and sometimes had its own specific market area, even its own buildings - was associated with a church festival (dedicated to Christ, Mary, or a saint) and took p…
Date: 2019-10-14

Counting-house

(826 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
Traditionally a counting-house has been understood as the scriptorium or shop (in modern language, the office) of medieval and early modern merchants. The term goes back to French  comptoir (“counter,” from Latin  computare, “count,” “calculate”), which suggests an original reference to a table or desk used for writing or trading. The counting-house became a central feature of commercial activity in the high Middle Ages, when merchants no longer traveled with their merchandise but settled in one place. With increasing literac…
Date: 2019-10-14

Bookkeeping, double-entry

(1,601 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. Bookkeeping in Antiquity and the Middle Ages Bookkeeping or accounting is probably almost as old as commercial activity itself. In Sumerian Mesopotamia (3rd millennium BCE), commercial transactions were already being recorded on clay tablets. This simple method of bookkeeping, in use since antiquity, served to document completed transactions as a reminder for the trader and as evidence in legal disputes. The Roman Corpus iuris civilis, for example, required the accounts of merchants to be presented publicly in court in case of disputes.Such documentation became especial…
Date: 2019-10-14

Interest (banking)

(1,037 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. Definition and formsThe term  interest (French  intérêt; see  Interest), in earlier Latin sources often called  interesse, contrasts with German  Zins – from Latin  census, “valuation (of wealth),” “tribute.” Until well into the 18th century, it meant compensation for both the loan of money or movables (Loan for consumption [mutuum]) and the use of land or immovables (lease or rent interest, ground rent, rent charge; see Peasant property rights; Services, peasant), later it normally meant only the former (see also…
Date: 2019-10-14

Commercial revolution

(655 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
The term commercial revolution was introduced by Raymond de Roover in 1942 [2]; it is used in studies of economic history for epochal changes relating to the history of trade, when commercial innovations were concentrated in a short space of time, thus triggering an advance in the long-term development of trade. De Roover set the commercial revolution of the Middle Ages in the 13th century, while modern scholars prefer to speak of a period from the late 12th century to the 14th. During the medieval commer…
Date: 2019-10-14

Import

(890 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. DefinitionImport is the portion of external trade (Trade, external) that involves the transfer of goods from a foreign economic area into one’s own and the related services (warehousing, dispatch, etc.); it is thus complementary to export.Markus A. Denzel2. RestrictionsAn import ban or embargo is a government decree prohibiting (for example) the import of raw materials, foodstuffs, manufactured goods, or luxuries. Such bans have been common since antiquity, especially vis-à-vis hostile nations, but it was not until the era of mercantilism that they became an…
Date: 2019-10-14

Endorsement

(957 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. Definition and functionAn endorsement is a signature written on the back (Italian, in dosso or in dorso) of a bill of exchange that entitles a person not previously involved in the bill to present it for payment. The endorsement effectively transferred the demand for payment derived from the bill to another person, which the signature written  in dosso confirmed. By means of endorsement, bills of exchange became a circulable form of paper currency. Like the bill of exchange itself (at the latest since the early 15th century), the endorsement devel…
Date: 2019-10-14

Fugger family

(1,091 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. Rise of the dynasty up to the 16th century The Fuggers of Augsburg were among the most famous of entrepreneurs doing business in the German area in the early modern era. In 1367, Hans Fugger immigrated to Augsburg and set himself up as a fustian weaver and merchant; his son Jakob I. Fugger, founder of the “Fuggers of the lily” branch of the family, was primarily known as a business magnate. His son Jakob II (nicknamed “the Rich”) was the one who created a Europe-wide enterprise from those comparatively…
Date: 2019-10-14

Export

(770 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
Export is the portion of external trade that entails the delivering of goods from the home economic zone into another (foreign) one, and the services connected with this process (warehousing, dispatch, etcetera; on the details, see Trade, external).The export of goods was subject to a range of official regulations in the early modern period, primarily prohibitions. A prohibition on export was an official ban on the export of goods regarded as strategically important, such as weapons, raw materials, foodstuffs, manufactured or lux…
Date: 2019-10-14

Customs duties

(1,899 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. TerminologyThe term  duty (German  Zoll, from Late Latin  teloneum/ telonium, “toll house, customs house”) denotes a fee levied when goods are transported across a customs boundary – whether within a state (internal tariff) or between two states (external tariff). Internal tariffs were levied primarily in situations where bypassing a customs stations would have been very expensive or impossible for the dealer or carrier. In land transport, this took place at major bridges (bridge toll), fords, tunnels…
Date: 2019-10-14

Commercial correspondence

(618 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, as a consequence of the commercial revolution economic and trade activity increased sharply, the money economy began to take hold (once more), and new techniques were developed for trade and payment transactions (see Bill of exchange); as a result, the need for communication between merchants increased substantially. Now, however, they no longer communicated primarily orally in the course of personal meetings; with the emergence of the settled counting-house merch…
Date: 2019-10-14

Exchange bank

(817 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. Denotation Unlike bureaux de change, which already existed in Upper Germany in the late Middle Ages, exchange banks were public clearing- and deposit banks, usually established by a town to function as a clearinghouse with a multilateral system of accounting, in order to better regulate the increasingly common practice of cashless payment transactions. At the same time, by means of the introduction of a currency of accounting (bank currency), exchange banks stabilized the existing cash and curr…
Date: 2019-10-14

Dispatch

(810 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
The dispatching of goods in the early modern period was always regarded as an integral part of trade, although a distinction may be made between “normal” carriage, simple traffic and transport between two places, and long-distance dispatch (Ger. Speditionshandel or Transithandel).Dispatch as part of the business of trade was not generally operated professionally (cf. Professionalization 4.2.). Waggoners, in Alpine districts pack drivers, on larger rivers bargees or raftsmen, were often peasants and tenants, who took on paid transport…
Date: 2019-10-14

Check

(670 words)

Author(s): North, Michael | Denzel, Markus A.
A check (British Engl. cheque, Fr. chèque) is a written bank deposit instruction by which the signatory commissions his or her bank or a public institution to pay out the amount of money indicated on the check from his account to another person . The development and dissemination of the check was part of the elaboration of cash-freepayment transactions in the late Middle Ages and early modern period. The word check derives etymologically from Ital. scacco (“treasure”), as does Engl. “exchequer,” which in turn goes back to Arab. sakk, a type of payment instruction [1. 555].Deposit instruct…
Date: 2019-10-14

Factory (trading post)

(1,564 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. | Häberlein, Mark
1. Europe The term  factory was much more common in Europe in the high and late Middle Ages than in the early modern period. The Italian word  fattoria, the etymon of the loanword, first appears in connection with the great Tuscan trading companies of the high Middle Ages; it denoted a fortified outpost or “branch” of a trading company in a foreign commercial center, headed by a factor (Italian  fattore) [6]. The network of factories of the great South German companies (Fugger family; Welser) with permanent offices in the major European commercial centers (A…
Date: 2019-10-14

Bill of exchange

(2,135 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. | Löhnig, Martin
1. Economics 1.1. Basics The bill of exchange (Italian lettera di cambio, French letter de change, German Wechsel), “one of the most important achievements in the history of economics” [4], was developed in Italy on the basis of ancient precursors during the Commercial Revolution (12th–14th centuries). In its classic form, dating from the 14th century, it represented an order for payment, in which the maker (drawer) of the bill instructed the drawee (acceptor) to clear a debt elsewhere for a beneficiary or bearer in his pl…
Date: 2019-10-14

Currency

(2,375 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. | Pfister, Ulrich
1. Definition The term currency (from Latin currens, “flowing”) originally meant a condition of fluidity; the figurative sense of “circulation” of money was coined in 1690 by John Locke. The German term Währung (from MHG werunge, “guarantee”) refers to a territory's legal regulation of the monetary system, and, like currency, encompasses the definition of the coinage system (coin standard, establishment of the relative values of different coins and the intrinsic precious metal content), the establishment of legal tender, and ex…
Date: 2019-10-14

Insurance

(3,370 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. | Pahlow, Louis | Mittag, Jürgen
1. Commercial history 1.1. Definition and historical originsInsurance is the elimination of individual financial risk by distributing it to a community with similar risk. This is done by the payment of individual contributions or premiums into a common fund, the total sum of which is determined by the amount of risk to be covered. The commercial insurance industry facilitates the creation of risk communities, the collection of premiums, and the disbursal of insurance benefits as services. Together with…
Date: 2019-10-14