The banking activity itself, cradle in the commerce of the money, was born with the currency, and that happened in the Greek region of Lydia in year 700 a. C. The diffusion of the currency convulsionó the economy, cradle still in the product interchange to feed them and other goods. And not only that since the wealth calculated now by the possession of currencies, and constituted a sign of authority and autonomy of the small ones cities Been Greek (poleis), that guaranteed their value coining their respective symbols and shields. In about four centuries of history, in Greece coined currency more than 1100 cities. The monetary systems and the own names of the currencies changed with frequency, reason why became the figure of the moneychanger, the first itself banker indispensable. The changes attracted the deposits, and its use gave origin to the main activity of the bank, that consisted of the loan with interest. When the moneychangers lent money, like she happens today, demanded guarantees (houses, precious or enslaved objects). But often they trusted the honesty and honorabilidad of the client. The loans with the elevated interest rate more were the calls of marine change. They consisted of advancing certain sum to retailers who had to carry out lengths and dangerous sea voyages: if they were able to return to the mother country, gave back the money plus a stop interest; if, on the contrary, victims of the pirates or storms fell, banca lost the sum.

From the stores to the societies

In Rome, the bank happened with time of simple store, run at the outset by Greek moneychangers, to an authentic society by actions. Already in year 330 a. C., the first bankers of Rome, calls argentarii, had settled down seven stores in the Forum. Argentarii was secundados in its task by nummularii, experts whose task consisted of determining the validity of the currencies change object or the metal in order to coin. With the expansion of the conquests to all the itálica Peninsula, in Rome the class of equites or horsemen received great importance, who to no to be able to carry out positions political, reserved to the senators, they were dedicated to the commerce. To the order of the horsemen they belonged publicanos and the traders. The publicanos, very powerful, had entrusted the collection of taxes, and in addition they speculated, providing remarkable sums to high interest to carry out the great public works that have arrived at us: roads, aqueducts, mines and theaters. One was ambitious initiatives in all the orders, and for that reason societies were born whose people in charge were calls socii in infinitum: if the businesses were failed, responded with their personal patrimony. The societies were maintained by shareholders, calls contributor, that only risked the sum that had invested, this is, the action. The actions or parts were, like today, of diverse type according to the organization: there were parts, particulae and parts ma_qnae. To the publicanos they helped administrators to them collectors and post office. The traders took care of the retail trade, the main fairs and markets participated in, and often they followed legions to settle the campings on the brink of madness, where they conducted operations of loan. They were adventurous of the commerce, were people without scruples, and for that reason badly they were considered by the population, that even got to give death them, as it is reflected in the narrations of the cronistas. Thanks to the income of publicanos and traders, arrived at Rome enormous extreme of money who, as well, were managed by great families of bankers. The banking activity in Rome reached high levels: a species of union of bankers even existed that took care of of the interests corporative. But everything concluded with the Barbarian invasions. The immediately later centuries to the fall of the Roman Empire were characterized by a great stagnation in almost all the economic activities. In the West the exchange, on the other hand never left, it returned to be the main form of interchange. Because of a relation of more favorable change, there was a great gold affluence towards East: while in Bizancio the gold was worth 12 times more that the silver, the Arabs changed 14 parts of second by one of first. A decree contributed to favor this situation of emperor of East, that established the relation between silver and gold in 1 to 18. Therefore, he more and more turned out favorable to yield gold in return of silver according to the diverse valuations. It caused an increasing payment means shortage and a promotion of the monometalismo in favor of the silver, that is, to the use of a single type of metal like interchange means.

the reform of Carlomagno

By the end of century IX, Carlomagno carried out the great reform of the , that practically remained in vigor until French revolution, and in Great Britain, until 1971. It established a new monetary unit, the pound – that derives its name from the unit of weight homónima-, divided in 20 pays and 240 money. Returning to the English currency, we remember that until 1971 the pound sterling was divided in 20 chelines (pays) and 240 pennies (money). In fact, at time carolingia the pound did not exist absolutely: it was an account unit, with which the values of goods calculated and services, but the only currency that circulated of effective way was during long time the money. The banking activity had not arrived a to disappear; they had assumed it, so to speak, mints and moneychangers.

the Jewish bankers

Towards year 1000, a sensible increase of the use of the currency by the retailers, mainly Jewish was pronounced. This type of commerce partly explains the irrational aversion that still today some continue experimenting towards the Jews. After diáspora, these were forced to settle down in the diverse places, and everywhere they were considered responsible for the death of Jesus. Because of these and other prejudices could not carry out positions public nor have real estate, situation that in almost all parts pushed to them the absolute marginalization. For that reason the Jews were themselves forced to dedicate itself more to the varied offices, including considered the more innobles, like the loan with interest, denostado by the majority, because usury was considered although the perceived rate she was modest. Yet, this activity turned out indispensable it economy and to surpass moments of necessity. In addition, the loan with interest it was prohibited by the Church; however, the Jews were excluded from this limitation.

Moneychangers and retailers bankers

The Jews were not, obvious, only qu lent money, and by the same they were not the unique ones in having it in considerable canti either dades. In effect, numerous Christians and algu us great monasteries financed to pe queños diverse landowners by means of form of loan that, in appearance, bucket does not go interest. But these contracts were lent easily to abuses, reason why, with time, Church prethó prohibited. The Old Testament and Aristotle had condemned the gain fruit of loans, and its lessons, adopted by the ecclesiastical world, had law rank. By these reasons, the mere fact to handle money raised important and serious suspicions. Nevertheless, the Church received offerings in money and, often, diverse currencies. In any case, the world progressed, the commerce recovered with slowness, and the only gain coming from the considered money allowed it was the speculation with the currency exchange. The moneychanger went to the fairs, took the currencies and confronted risks by which, at heart, he was right to compensate to him. Thanks mainly to the crossed ones, the commerce experienced a development of ample reach throughout international axes that went from England to The Mediterranean, and from Spain to Russia and Armenia. Who dealt with luxury articles, like spices, fabrics, brocades, etc., in addition to services of the diverse moneychangers needed those agents who could represent their businesses and of carrying out payments at a distance. The center of the international trade of that time, as much from the point of view of the production like of the interchange, was Italy, and indeed and between the Italian merchants the banking activity took a definitive impulse there. In this period three can be distinguished types differentiated from banking agents: the moneylenders on article, the moneychangers and the trading bankers. First they continued the millenarian tradition of the usurario loan, the condemned by the majority but at heart tolerated because he was Indispensable. The new and revolutionary monetary situation laid the the foundations for the definitive diffusion of the second type of agent: the moneychanger.

the return of the gold currencies

With the internationalization of the interchanges, more and more consistent and diversified, no longer it could take control in front of money to the payments elevated; currencies of value needed upper and accepted by all. Thanks to the height of the production in the marine cities, they spread the three international gold currencies par excellence: the genovino, the florin and the ducado one, that soon would be called cequí. These three currencies, born respectively in Genoa, Florence and Venice, actually were of pure gold, and they were accepted without reserves in all the markets of the world then known. But by this same reason they were falsified and imitated; for that reason to accept them like payment and to change them by other currencies an expert made lack, concretely the moneychanger, who knew to recognize them by his validity and by weight.

Of moneychangers to bankers

The moneychangers took the name from bankers, because banks or tables worked behind. With time, in addition to the simple change of currencies, began to accept great deposits and to carry out loans. Of the activity it would change was born the third type of banking agent: trading banker, who formed the elite of the profession. These new figures were to the service (often like creditors) of Popes, monarchs, princes and great retailers. They initiated his activity participating in the important fairs of Champagne, in France, where they represented the interests of the great Italian merchants, and also in those of Castile. The fairs of Champagne were regulated by a periodic calendar: six times to the year were celebrated, and each one lasted six weeks. Two weeks were reserved to the transaction of the diverse merchandize, and the other four were dedicated to the financial adjustments of the fair in course or of the previous ones. The great retailers or the own clients used the services of the trading bankers, in order not to have to go personally. These last ones paid and bought on behalf of the others, using often change letters. What was a change letter? An instrument of remote, very comfortable payment, that with time was made more and more necessary, giving present origin exactly and to the check. Its operation was quite simple: let us suppose that a florentino retailer wanted to acquire to a Dutch colleague a fabric game, paying the merchandize during one of those fairs. The florentino ordered to an agent (retailer banker), who went to bank of the place so that the owed sum was given to him to the other retailer. The document with which the payment took place materially it was not but a change letter that, in case of not paying itself, was protested. The consequences of the insolvent payment did not affect only to direct interested, but to whole categories of retailers.

the risks of the office

The most severe regulations of the fairs anticipated that if a retailer of a nationality did not perform one’s duty, it was prohibited access to the operations to all the retailers of the same nationality. In addition, the debt to a compatriot could be protested of protested, although outside totally other people’s to the breaches. The Italian retailers and moneylenders extended by all Europe, where they opened diverse private banks that financed to more important clients. In order as far as possible to cover the great risks that tolerated the financial operations, they organized themselves in societies. In general, it was called Iombardos, name to them that tied to diverse seats and streets where their activities had the seat: Lombard Street in London, Rue DES Lombards in Paris, etc. From their loans, the bankers obtained great benefits that hurried to reinvertir, but also is certain that at the moments more difficult, like in the periods of shortage or during the epidemics, the town often relieved its displeasure in them. 0 is, that it dealed with an office of high risk, and not always the loans were given back. Worse the payer ones were the sovereigns, who often resorted to his authority not to satisfy the debts or they commanded to stop with any pretext the bankers. Pero so that the monarchs became indebted themselves with the banks? The reasons are numerous, and first of them, the wars, more and more expensive by the welded ones of the mercenarias troops. Other expenses were the diplomatic relations with the other States and, finally, support of the cut, that required remarkable dispendios. On the other hand, to resort to the taxes meant to wait too much time in order to enter money, and in addition the increase to the fiscality was badly received by the subjects. Therefore, better to become indebted itself than to lose supports.


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