Money and the Middle Ages
Money and the Middle Ages
Jacques Le Goff sets out in this book to explain the role of money, or rather of the various types of money, in the economy, life and mentalities of the Middle Ages. He seeks also to explain how, in a society dominated by religion, the Church viewed money, and how it taught Christians what attitudes they should adopt towards it and towards the uses to which it could be put. He shows that, although money played an important role in the rise of towns and trade and in state formation, there was no capitalism but only a pre-capitalism in the Middle Ages, even by their end, in the absence of a truly global market. This is why economic development remained slow and limited, in spite of some remarkable success stories. It was a period in which it was as important to give money as it was to earn it. True wealth was not yet the wealth of this world, even though money played an increasingly large role in reality and in mentalities.

No similar discussion of this subject, aimed at a wide readership, has previously been published. Written by one of the greatest medievalists, this book will be recognized as a standard work on the topic.
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  • October 2012
  • 200 pages
  • 160 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9780745652986
  • Paperback $23.75
  • 9780745652993
Table of Contents



1. The heritage of the Roman Empire and Christianization

2. From Charlemagne to feudalism

3. The rise of coin and money at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

4. The wonderful thirteenth century of money

5. Trade, money and coin in the commercial revolution of the thirteenth century

6. Money and the nascent states

7. Lending, debt and usury

8. A new wealth and a new poverty

9. From the thirteenth to the fourteenth century: money in crisis

10. The perfecting of the financial system at the end of the Middle Ages

11. Towns, states and money at the end of the Middle Ages

12. Prices, wages and coin in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

Appendix: Was there a land market in the Middle Ages?

13. The mendicant orders and money

14. Humanism, patronage and money

15. Capitalism or caritas?




About the Author
Jacques Le Goff is Professor of History, and formerly head of École des hautes études en sciences sociales. He was a leading figure in the Annales School and his book Medieval Civilization is a classic.
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"Le Goff is magisterial in his treatment of medieval documentary sources, and of modern historical debate."
Ashmolean Museum

"Money and the Middle Ages provides those insights into the period which we associate with this master of historical writing."
Times Literary Supplement

"Le Goff has produced a masterpiece: a work which brings together all the complex issues surrounding money and the ways it was conceived and utilized.  At the same time he has succeeded in telling a story about individual people and their hopes and fears."
Michael Clanchy, University of London

"In this sweeping essay, at once concise and inventive, Jacques Le Goff returns to a theme on which he has been writing for over fifty years: history, culture, and money.  The argument is brisk, the examples wonderful, and his engagement with the material and religious contexts as vigorous as ever. This is still the Le Goff whose history-writing has proved so influential for two generations now."
John Van Engen, University of Notre Dame

"A very clear and authoritative analysis of the perception and use of money across three very turbulent centuries of western European history"
MAKE Literary Magazine

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