Commerce History

History of trade, commercial ventures, and industry. Do NOT use this topic to tag merchants that exist in the modern world; rather, it is for historical commerce.

"Ascent of Money" - How the Medicis created banking

How did the shipping of huge amounts of gold and silver from the New World contribute to the collapse of the Spanish Empire? Learn about that and how the Medicis evolved from a criminal gang into international bankers and the richest family in Italy in the PBS series "Ascent of Money" presented by Professor Niall Ferguson.

Roman "savings bank" discovered in Colchester

"What you're looking at is how somebody managed their savings, taking some out and putting some back in probably over a number of years," said Philip Crummy from the Colchester Archaeological Trust about the recent discovery of over 1200 Roman coins in two clay pots.

Economics of the Middle Ages

Planet Money, which features podcasts about modern economics and news of the economy, recently offered an edition focused on medieval economics, particularly feudalism and guilds.

Charcoal pits tell story of medieval Norwegian economy

Trondheim, once known as Bymarka, was the center of religious life in medieval Norway. Now the discovery of more than 500 charcoal pits in the area proves that the city was an industrial center as well.

Visit Acre: "the crusaders' hip and happening capital"

Looking for the perfect summer vacation? Why not plan a truly period trip to the City of Acre. Robyn Young and Tom Hall of BBC History offer travel trips.

Luxury items more common in 16th century Ireland than previously believed

Common wisdom about 16th century Ireland, namely that it was a backwater, is being challeneged by a new study by PhD student Susan Flavin. She has looked at imports from England to Ireland between 1503 and 1600 and contradicts the common assumption.

Modern economic analysis of the Domesday Book

In 1086, William the Conqueror undertook the daunting task of cataloging his estates and possesions in England. The results are known as the Domesday Book. Now author John McDonald is using modern economic analysis to evaluate the productivity of the Wiltshire estates.

High living standards in medieval England

Researchers at the university of Warwick in England believe that life in medieval England was not the bleak, muddy image that is often seen in the movie as and on TV.

Sumptuary laws plagued Renaissance bankers

"Our state is less strong because money which should navigate and multiply lies dead, converted into vanities,"  said the rulers of Venice, who enforced laws designed to curb the spending habits of the rich. These sumptuary laws are the subject of an article by Sarah Dunant on the BBC News Magazine blog.

Henry III Fine Roles give insight into 13th century society

During the reign of King Henry III (1216–1272), fines were paid to the king in installments, in exchange for a specified concession. Now these roles are available to view online thanks to the Henry III Fine Roles Project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Bodleian Library collection moving to larger quarters

Oxford University's Bodleian Library, famous for its medieval holdings, will be moving the bulk of its collections to a new storage facility in South Marston, England.

Domesday Book by map and charter

A new website, PASE Domesday, allows users to search William the Conqueror's 1086 Domesday book by person and village. The results can be seen in tabular or map form.

York's Merchant Adventurers on Facebook

The 15th century met the 21st recently when York, England's Company of Merchant Adventurers announced that it will share the secrets of its famous guildhall in Fossgate on a Facebook website.

Dark Ages really more "gray," say economists

In a recent story for NPR's All Things Considered, Madeleine Brand discusses new theories about the Dark Ages, the medieval spice trade, and the Black Plague with Chana Joffe-Walt and Adam Davidson.

10th century Viking ingot found in England

A cigar-shaped, silver ingot dating to the 10th century has been discovered in Shenstone, England. The ingot, thought to be Scandinavian in origin, is believed to have been used as currency.

US in better shape than Rome, says Cornell professor

"Almost everything that has happened [in the United States] over the last year has happened in some deviation before in the period that I study, which is essentially the equivalent of 2008 for the Roman Empire," said said Kim Bowes, Cornell assistant professor of classical archaeology at a recent lecture.

Modern "global cities" inspired by patterns in the Middle Ages

In an article for Der Spiegel Parag Khanna, director of the Global Governance Program at the New America Foundation in Washington discusses how the current transition process toward global governance began in the rise of Europe's city states during the Middle Ages.

Local currency vs. the coin of the realm

How did the modern currency system develop? Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc., discuss the medieval origins of money in a short video from The New York Times.

Medieval Academy of America

The Medieval Academy of America is a web site devoted to scholarly research of the medieval period. They offer a magazine, Speculum, which has been published since at least 1975. There is a searchable index of articles if you are interested in a particular subject.

International banking - medieval-style

A team of researchers from England's Reading University are studying the credit crunch -- not the recent one, but the "medieval credit crunch" from the time of England's King Edward I.

Following the path of our Scotch-Irish ancestors

"Growing up in North Carolina, I always knew we had a huge group of Scotch-Irish settlers in the Piedmont of the Carolinas, but I didn't understand their ancestry. Were they from Scotland or Ireland?" Jennifer Hudson Taylor looks for an answer on her blog.

Roman oil lamp factory discovered in Italy

A pottery workshop for the mass production of oil lamps dating to the 2nd century C.E. has been discovered near Modena, Italy. The complex created pottery lamps which bear the brand name stamped on the bottom. (photo)

Heather Whipps' "How the Spice Trade Changed the World"

LiveScience columnist Heather Whipps writes a weekly column on world-changing events. A recent article discusses how the Spice Trade brought East and West together.

Byzantine Gold in Scandinavia the Topic of Research Paper

A research paper entitled "Post festum. Solid gold among the Swedes from the end of the Migration Period solidi import to the beginning of the Viking raids" was read at this year's Medieval Academy of America in Minneapolis, 12 April 2003.