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Bankers to the Crown: The Riccardi of Lucca and Edward I

Bankers to the Crown: The Riccardi of Lucca and Edward I

Richard W. Kaeuper
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    Bankers to the Crown: The Riccardi of Lucca and Edward I
    Book Description:

    Throughout the thirteenth century Western European monarchs were hampered by the failure of their traditional revenues to meet their new expenses. Edward I of England solved the primary problem of acquiring adequate funds with the imposition of a duty on wool and leather and by more frequent direct taxes. But collection was slow and irregular; there still remained the problem of liquidity. To ensure a steady flow of cash to meet his military, administrative, and diplomatic needs Edward developed a special relationship with a company of Italian merchant-bankers, the Societas Riccardorum de Luka.

    Richard W. Kaeuper analyzes this relationship to provide valuable information on the financial needs of the king's government and its daily routine at a critical stage in its development. Equally interesting is the examination of the operations of the Italian banking houses that were becoming prominent in the economic life of northwestern Europe and were to become famous in the fourteenth century.

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6968-8
    Subjects: Finance

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  3. Abbreviations of Sources Frequently Cited
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Chapter I The Societas Riccardorum
    (pp. 1-74)

    Numerous studies by distinguished scholars have familiarized us with the nature and importance of Italian merchant-bankers in early European history, the evidence and the coverage being especially good from the fourteenth century. Drawing on superior business organization, commanding significant capital resources, often enjoying papal patronage, the Lombards and Tuscans gradually crossed the Alps and penetrated Northwestern Europe in an Italiandiasporaof vast importance.¹

    The latter part of the twelfth century marked a critical stage in this movement as the merchants began to frequent the famous fairs of Champagne, which had previously been purely local or regional markets.² They were...

  6. Chapter II The Relationship Between King and Banker
    (pp. 75-134)

    A serious and persistent shortage of funds plagued Western European monarchs throughout the thirteenth century. As governments developed more elaborate and active administrations and more magnificent courts, as the costs of warfare rose and expensive alliances became more common, the gap between traditional revenues and the new costs widened. Ordinary revenues barely covered the king’s day-to-day needs and in the face of war or sudden emergency they failed utterly. To meet the problem, monarchs and their advisers were beginning to levy extraordinary revenues, but their subjects were not yet reconciled to the “painful necessity” of recurrent taxation. Since men saw...

  7. Chapter III The Control of the Customs, 1275–1294
    (pp. 135-172)

    The creation of a viable customs system has been hailed as the outstanding contribution to English government finance in the reign of Edward I.¹ Yet we have seen that the proof of this evaluation is not to be found solely in the significant increment these duties brought to the royal revenues. Even more important were the possibilities presented by using this steady source of funds as security for loans negotiated with firms of Italian merchant-bankers. For nineteen years, 1275–1294, the export duties on wool formed the principle means of repaying the continuous advances made to Edward I by the...

  8. Chapter IV The Welsh Wars
    (pp. 173-208)

    War was the chief emergency confronting medieval kings and war imposed the most sudden and severe strains on the royal finances. The latter part of Edward’s reign would bring warfare on several fronts; in the first half of the reign it was limited to Wales. But even this earlier campaigning consumed royal treasure at an alarming rate. Warfare began in Wales soon after Edward returned from crusade, when in November of 1276 the uneasy truce in Anglo-Welsh relations (dating from the 1267 Treaty of Montgomery) was ended by Prince Llywelyn’s refusal to do homage. Edward’s decision to “go upon him...

  9. Chapter V Arrest and Failure
    (pp. 209-252)

    When Edward ordered the Riccardi to give up the cocket seals on 29 July, 1294,¹ depriving them of the collection of the customs, he was in effect breaking off the relationship which had successfully linked king and banker for more than two decades. Thus the reasons for this rupture and the collapse of the Riccardi about seven years later are of clear importance. These two phenomena were obviously related, and we must investigate their connection as well as the causes behind each.

    The Italian scholar Emilio Re has outlined what would seem to be the basic factors in the decline...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 253-260)

    By the reign of Edward I the precocious development of the English government had given the crown broad powers and useful institutions, the growth being especially well marked in the area of finance.¹ A long tradition of painstaking accounting set down in careful records had been established by the exchequer, the first offshoot from the unspecialized royalcuria. Flexible administration of receipts and expenditures had been secured by household personnel close to the king, first in the chamber and later in the wardrobe. By the time of Edward’s reign the problem was one not of audit or administration, but of...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-270)
  12. Index
    (pp. 271-279)