Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents

Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents

Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents

Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents

Excerpt

This is the first collection of documents dealing with all aspects of Mediterranean commerce in the Middle Ages to appear in translation in a modern language. That such a gap should have existed to this moment may be surprising. The feudal system is gone, and the Holy Roman Empire has perished. The quarrel between nominalists and realists has died out, and the word Crusade survives chiefly to label enterprises that have nothing to do with the Crusades. But it is easy for the layman to get firsthand information about these and other themes of the Middle Ages in translations of fundamental sources and even of minor documents. On the other hand, the corporate organization of modern business has its roots in the medieval partnerships, our bill of exchange is a direct descendant of the exchange contracts of the Middle Ages, and our accounting stems from ways contrived by early fourteenth-century Genoese merchant bankers. Yet commercial documents available in translation are exceedingly few and scattered. Of the greatest classic in the history of medieval trade--La pratica della mercatura by Francesco di Balduccio Pegolotti, a work which holds in its field as important a place as Bede, Villehardouin, or Machiavelli in other branches of history-- no translation has ever been printed. Even the family name of the author is frequently confused with the name of his father. If we turn to legal documents, we cannot find a single collegantia contract in English translation, although this type of contract is a milestone comparable in importance to the Magna Charta or the Concordat of Worms.

Even in the original there is no printed collection of documents dealing with all aspects of Mediterranean trade. If countless thousands have been . . .

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