A History of Business in Medieval Europe, 1200-1550

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A History of Business in Medieval Europe, 1200-1550, demolishes the widely held view that the phrase "medieval business" is an oxymoron. The authors review the entire range of business in medieval western Europe, probing its Roman and Christian heritage to discover the economic and political forces that shaped the organization of agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, transportation, and marketing. Then they deal with the responses of businessmen to the devastating plagues, famines, and warfare that beset Europe in the late Middle Ages. The remarkable success in coping with this hostile new environment was "a harvest of adversity" that prepared the way for the economic expansion of the sixteenth century. Two main themes run through the book. First, the force and direction of business development in this period stemmed primarily from the demands of the elite. Second, the lasting legacy of medieval businessmen was less their skillful adaptations of imported inventions than their brilliant innovations in business organization.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Hunt and Murray provide a very well informed and intelligent exposition of medieval business developments for the nonspecialist." Choice

"[Hunt and Murry's] basic findings are that business was driven by the demand of the elite for exotic goods, and that the lasting contribution of Medieval business was organization rather than the innovations they imported." Reference & Research Book News

"[Hunt and Murray's] basic findings are that business was driven by the demand of the elite for exotic goods, and that the lasting contribution of Medieval business was organization rather than the innovations they imported." Reference & Research Book News

"This succinct and beautifully written book is a worthy edition to the distinguished series, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks." The Historian

"...at last we have a nuanced alternative to the old orthodoxies and an eminently persuasive one which, while never underplaying the genuine problems of the late medieval economy, creates a scenario in which the early modern economic take-off makes sense." Envoi.

"Hunt and Murray have done a valuable service in producing this textbook...The authors are also to be commended for their ability to transform sometimes technical business jargon into well-crafted, readable prose." Speculum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521495813
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2010
  • Series: Medieval Textbooks Series
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction 1
Pt. I Before the Black Death: progress and problems
1 Economics, culture, and geography of early medieval trade 11
2 Tools of trade: business organization 31
3 Traders and their tools 52
4 The politics of business 75
5 Business gets bigger: the super-company phenomenon 99
Pt. II Business in the late Middle Ages: a harvest of adversity
6 The new business environment of the Middle Ages 132
7 Business responses to the new environment 151
8 The fifteenth century: revolutionary results from old processes 178
9 Sources of capital in the late Middle Ages 204
10 A new age for business 226
Conclusions 246
Notes 250
Further reading 260
Index 269
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