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Are the Roots of the Modern Lex Mercatoria Really Medieval?

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  • Oliver Volckart
  • Antje Mangels

Abstract

This article analyzes how trade was conducted between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. We claim that, as most exchange was simultaneous, differences between law codes did not pose a substantial problem and that mercantile guilds developed not to provide institutions comparable to the modern lex mercatoria, but rather to supply physical security. The development of nonsimultaneous exchange was made possible predominantly by the emergence of urban autonomy and urban law applicable to all merchants trading within town, so it appears that the importance of universally accepted commercial institutions in the Middle Ages has hitherto been vastly overrated.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Volckart & Antje Mangels, 1999. "Are the Roots of the Modern Lex Mercatoria Really Medieval?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 427-450, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:65:3:y:1999:p:427-450
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jens Prüfer, 2016. "Business Associations and Private Ordering," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 306-358.
    2. Roberta Dessì & Salvatore Piccolo, 2008. "Two is Company, N is a Crowd? Merchant Guilds and Social Capital," CSEF Working Papers 202, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 12 Jul 2009.
    3. Larrain Aylwin, M.J. & Prüfer, J.O., 2014. "Business Associations, Lobbying, and Endogenous Institutions," Discussion Paper 2014-071, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Erik Lindberg, 2009. "Club goods and inefficient institutions: why Danzig and Lübeck failed in the early modern period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(3), pages 604-628, August.
    5. Scott E. Masten & Jens Prüfer, 2014. "On the Evolution of Collective Enforcement Institutions: Communities and Courts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 359-400.
    6. Aspers, Patrik, 2009. "How are markets made?," MPIfG Working Paper 09/2, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    7. repec:jpe:journl:1436 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2014. "The Economics of Guilds," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 169-192, Fall.
    9. Dessi, Roberta & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "Social Capital and Collusion : The Case of Merchant Guilds," IDEI Working Papers 214, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    10. Edwards, Jeremy & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2012. "What lessons for economic development can we draw from the Champagne fairs?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 131-148.
    11. Volckart, Oliver, 2000. "The open constitution and its enemies: competition, rent seeking, and the rise of the modern state," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17, May.
    12. Dessi, Roberta & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2004. "The Political Economy of Merchant Guilds: Commitment or Collusion ?," IDEI Working Papers 278, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    13. Dessí, Roberta & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2016. "Merchant guilds, taxation and social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 90-110.
    14. Angelucci, Charles & Meraglia, Simone, 2013. "Trade, Self-Governance,and the Provision of Law and Order, with an Application To Medieval English Chartered Towns," TSE Working Papers 13-443, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    15. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2007. "'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)," CESifo Working Paper Series 2066, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Guha, Brishti, 2012. "Who will monitor the monitors? Informal law enforcement and collusion at Champagne," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 261-277.
    17. Volckart, Oliver, 2004. "The economics of feuding in late medieval Germany," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 282-299, July.
    18. Geloso, Vincent & Kufenko, Vadim, 2017. "Inequality and guard labor, or prohibition and guard labor?," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 06-2017, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    19. Peter Leeson, 2007. "Efficient anarchy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 41-53, January.
    20. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.

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