The world of business had little to do with that reflected in and ruled by the law of the feudal jurist. Though very different, the almost-Roman Law used by Italian judges and notaries and the customary law of northern and western Europe, strongly marked by its barbarian roots, had one thing in common: they both predated the expansion of urban centers and institutions.
The businessman emerged from a feudal and rural background governed by customary law. Foreign to a system of social relations based on cultivation of the land and organized in a pyramid of landed and personal rights dominated by vertical bonds, the businessman stood outside the institutions provided by feudal custom as well as those governing lands held in exchange for payment in money, service, or kind. He was governed neither by the rules of chivalrous society nor by those of the peasant world. The exchange of protection for personal service, the mutual but unequal solidarity of those who gave and those who owed, the inheritance, de facto and then legal, of situations and bonds—none of these had any more meaning for the businessman setting out across the high seas than for the artisan who had no resources except his own talent and abilities. It would be a long time before such people were considered part of normal society. Their activities would lie essentially outside the law of the jurists, taught in the faculties of civil and canon law.
This is not to say that the public powers had no concern for those involved in commerce and banking. Whether in the form of a ruler or the