HISTORY OF BANKING
Greek and Roman financiers: from the 4th century BC
Banking activities in Greece are more varied and sophisticated than in any previous society. Private entrepreneurs, as well as temples and public bodies, now undertake financial transactions. They take deposits, make loans, change money from one currency to another and test coins for weight and purity.
They even engage in book transactions. Moneylenders can be found who will accept payment in one Greek city and arrange for credit in another, avoiding the need for the customer to transport or transfer large numbers of coins.
Rome, with its genius for administration, adopts and regularizes the banking practices ...view middle of the document...
The Fugger dynasty: 15th - 16th century AD
At the start of the 15th century the Medici are Europe's greatest banking dynasty, but their political power later distracts them from the highly focussed business of making money. After the reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent the bank's finances are in a perilous state.
The Medici later triumph as dukes of Florence. But their role as leading bankers is usurped by a German dynasty, that of the Fuggers. Like the Medici, the Fuggers amass vast wealth by massaging the finances of the papacy and of great princes.
The shift of European power to the Habsburgs in the late 15th century is the basis of the Fugger wealth. The family descends from an Augsburg weaver and their first fortune is in textiles. They make their first loan to a Habsburg archduke in 1487, taking as security an interest in silver and copper mines in the Tirol - the beginning of an extensive family involvement in mining and precious metals. In 1491 a loan is made to Maximilian; a subsequent loan to him in 1505 (by which time Maximilian is the Holy Roman emperor) is secured by the feudal rights to two Austrian counties.
But by far the largest Fugger project is undertaken in 1519 on behalf of Maximilian's grandson, Charles.
Charles is determined to succeed his grandfather as German king and Holy Roman emperor, but the post involves election and there is a rival candidate - the French king, Francis I. Charles turns to the Fugger family for his election expenses. Out of a massive total of 852,000 florins, to be spent on bribing the...