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(2,334 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen) RWG
Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen) RWG [English version] A. Einleitung (RWG) Die sich seit dem 7. Jh. v. Chr. entwickelnden Geldformen aus Edelmetallstücken, deren Wert vom Herrscher oder vom Gemeinwesen garantiert war, und ihre zunehmend dominierende Bed. im Wirtschaftsgeschehen der Mittelmeerwelt leiteten die Zurückdrängung des wesentlich älteren Warengeldes in allen seinen Facetten (Stein-, Ring- und Zahn-, Schmuck-, Kleider-, Nutzgeld sowie ungeformtes und geformtes Metallgeld) ein. Im Weltreich Alexanders…

Money/Money economy/Money theory

(2,628 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen RWG)
Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen RWG) [German version] A. Introduction (CT) A. Introduction The monetary forms that have developed from pieces of precious metals since the 7th cent. BC, whose value was guaranteed by the ruler or the community, and their increasingly dominant role in the economy of the Mediterranean region gradually displaced the much older way of payment in kind in all its forms (stone, ring and tooth, jewelry, clothing, money tokens as well as formed and unformed metal money). In Alexander the…


(2,419 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen) RWG
Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen) RWG [English version] A. Einleitung (RWG) Um die Frage der Kontinuität des Handels, insbes. im Mittelmeerraum, von der ant. in die nachant. Welt entspann sich seit den 1920er Jahren eine heftige Forschungsdiskussion, die Dopsch 1918-20, dann Pirenne 1922 entfachten und die letztlich bis heute andauert. Allerdings haben sich die Positionen zwischen uneingeschränkter Kontinuität einerseits und tiefem, langandauerndem Entwicklungsbruch andererseits inzwischen sehr weit angenäher…

Trade/Trade Routes

(2,965 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen RWG)
Denzel, Markus A. (Göttingen RWG) [German version] A. Introduction (CT) A lively discussion, initiated by Dopsch in 1918-20 and taken up by Pirenne in 1922, has developed and continues to this day concerning the question of the continuity of trade, especially in the Mediterranean, from Antiquity into post-Antiquity. It must be said, however, that the gap between the supporters of unimpeded continuity and those who suggest a profound, long-lasting break in development has in the meantime greatly narrowed. …

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

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

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


(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


(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


(1,292 words)

Author(s): Radeff, Anne | Denzel, Markus A.
1. General“Pedlary is a form of commercial enterprise in which the tradesman goes from place to place outside his own domicile peddling goods he has brought with him (actual pedlary), offering certain commercial services (scissors grinders, tinkers, etc.), or buying up goods (collecting rags, bones, scrap metal)” [1]; cited from [11. 101]. We can distinguish – in towns (town peddlers) and rural areas – so-called “direct peddlers” (German  Selbsthausierer) who sold the products of their own farm or their secondary occupation (Industrial trades and crafts) and …
Date: 2020-10-06


(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


(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


(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

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


(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


(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

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

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

Payment transactions

(2,155 words)

Author(s): Denzel, Markus A.
1. General The term payment transactions refers to the organization of the fulfillment of promises to pay, which customarily are made in the course of commercial transactions. Before the emergence of national payment systems, especially in the course of the development of central banks (see Bank of issue; cf. 4.3. below), payment transactions usually took place directly between individual commercial centers with their own financial services; governmental and political boundaries were irrelevant.Markus A. Denzel2. Payment in kindPayment in kind, that is, payment for …
Date: 2020-10-06
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