Partnerships as a form of business organization were quite common in the Roman Empire, and the law on the subject was well developed by the Romans as is shown by the selection below. How far Roman law influenced the partnerships of medieval times is a controversial point, but one which should not be ignored. With the collapse of the Empire and the emphasis placed on landed property, capitalistic enterprise was of comparative unimportance. Partnerships in commercial enterprises became more prevalent after the Crusades, but in industrial enterprises the proprietorship seems to have remained more common. To finance an enterprise it was often necessary for a merchant to form a partnership with a money- lender. In the case of ships shortage of capital led to the formation in the twelfth century of complicated partnerships in which shares might be held by thirty or forty partners. Canon law did not oppose a procedure where men placed their funds in common and assumed risks jointly.
The law of partnerships, as found in the Institutes of Justinian, is,
with minor modifications, the basis of the modern law on the subject.
Legally a partnership is a contract between two or more persons who
join their money, goods, and labor, establish a community of profit,
and undertake a lawful enterprise or adventure. In Roman law the
general partnership was distinguished from the particular partnership.
Source: The Institutes of Justinian, translated by Thomas Cooper, p. 280
( J. S. Voorhies, New York, 1852). -- A.D. 533.
It is common for persons to enter either into a general partner-