In any economic system, whether medieval or modern, “money, banking, and credit,” are so closely connected and interwoven that they cannot be separated. Banking involves the extension of credit, and credit leads to the creation of additional purchasing power or, to use a different phrase, of money substitutes. The importance of credit and banking in medieval times should not be underrated, as is sometimes done by placing undue emphasis on later developments in England. Professor Usher is preparing a treatise on the early history of banking in Italy and Spain. This paper, which summarizes the results of a similar investigation into the origins of banking in Bruges, will therefore supplement Professor Usher's work, as far as the development of banking in the Low Countries is concerned.
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