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Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm


  • Ekelund, Robert B.

    (Auburn University)

  • Hebert, Robert F.
  • Tollison, Robert D.

    (George Mason University)

  • Anderson, Gary M.

    (California State University-Northridge)

  • Davidson, Audrey B.

    (University of Louisville)


The Church dominated society in the Middle Ages and functioned as a quasi-government, providing public and private goods. This book is the first to examine specific institutions in the Church in the Middle Ages in economic terms. Other books have argued generally that the Church either had a positive or negative effect on economic development. The authors of this book look more closely at the actual Church institutions and practices and describe how each functioned as a part of the larger economy of the time. They focus especially on marriage, usury, heresy, the crusades, and the monasteries. It is not their purpose to reject or impugn religious motives that may be advanced by theologians and historians. Their goal is to bring a fresh perspective to the role of institutions of the medieval Church in economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Ekelund, Robert B. & Hebert, Robert F. & Tollison, Robert D. & Anderson, Gary M. & Davidson, Audrey B., 1997. "Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195103373.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780195103373

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Guido Heineck, 2001. "The Determinants of Church Attendance and Religious Human Capital in Germany: Evidence from Panel Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 263, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Coşgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 357-371.
    3. Paul Frijters & Juan D. Barón, 2012. "The Cult of Theoi: Economic Uncertainty and Religion," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(s1), pages 116-136, June.
    4. Fletcher, Erin K. & Iyigun, Murat, 2009. "Cultures, Clashes and Peace," IZA Discussion Papers 4116, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.
    6. John H. Munro, 1999. "The Low Countries' Export Trade in Textiles with the Mediterranean Basin, 1200-1600: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Comparative Advantages in Overland and Maritime Trade Routes," Working Papers munro-99-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    7. Mark Koyama, 2008. "Evading the 'Taint of Usury' Complex Contracts and Segmented Capital Markets," Economics Series Working Papers 412, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    8. Klick, Jonathan, 2006. "Salvation as a selective incentive," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 15-32, March.
    9. Holger Strulik, 2016. "Secularization And Long-Run Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 177-200, January.
    10. Men-Andri Benz & Egon Franck & Urs Meister, 2005. "Strategic Choice of Celibacy in the Catholic Church," Working Papers 0042, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
    11. Greif, Avner & Tabellini, Guido, 2017. "The clan and the corporation: Sustaining cooperation in China and Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 1-35.
    12. Men-Andri Benz & Reto Foellmi & Egon Franck & Urs Meister, 2009. "Should the Catholic Church abolish the rule of Celibacy?," Working Papers 0115, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
    13. Benito Arruñada, 2010. "Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 890-918, September.
    14. Koyama, Mark, 2010. "Evading the 'Taint of Usury': The usury prohibition as a barrier to entry," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 420-442, October.
    15. Charles North, 2013. "Robert B. Ekelund Jr., Robert D. Tollison: Economic origins of Roman Christianity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 154(3), pages 333-335, March.
    16. Pablo BraÒas-Garza & Shoshana Neuman, 2004. "Analyzing Religiosity within an Economic Framework: The Case of Spanish Catholics," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-22, March.
    17. Greif, Avner & Iyigun, Murat & Sasson, Diego, 2011. "Risk, Institutions and Growth: Why England and Not China?," IZA Discussion Papers 5598, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Pedro Pita Barros & Nuno Garoupa, 2002. "An Economic Theory Of Church Strictness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 559-576, July.
    19. Becky Haney, 2008. "The Relationship Between Labor Market Structure and Clergy Compensation in Protestant Denominations," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 36(1), pages 65-75, March.
    20. Charles DeLorme & Stacey Isom & David Kamerschen, 2005. "Rent seeking and taxation in the Ancient Roman Empire," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 705-711.
    21. Congleton, Roger D. & Lee, Sanghack, 2009. "Efficient mercantilism? Revenue-maximizing monopoly policies as Ramsey taxation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 102-114, March.
    22. Fabio Padovano & Ronald Wintrobe, 2012. "Theocracy is just another Form of Dictatorship: Theory and Evidence from the Papal Regimes," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201302, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.

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