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What Lessons for Economic Development Can We Draw from the Champagne Fairs?

Listed author(s):
  • Jeremy Edwards
  • Sheilagh Ogilvie

The medieval Champagne fairs are widely used to draw lessons about the institutional basis for long-distance impersonal exchange. This paper re-examines the causes of the outstanding success of the Champagne fairs in mediating international trade, the timing and causes of the fairs’ decline, and the institutions for securing property rights and enforcing contracts at the fairs. It finds that contract enforcement at the fairs did not take the form of private-order or corporative mechanisms, but was provided by public institutions. More generally, the success and decline of the Champagne fairs depended crucially on the policies adopted by the public authorities.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3438.

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Date of creation: 2011
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3438
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  1. Strayer, Joseph R., 1969. "Italian bankers and Philip the fair," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-2), pages 113-121.
  2. Avner Greif, 2006. "History Lessons: The Birth of Impersonal Exchange: The Community Responsibility System and Impartial Justice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 221-236, Spring.
  3. Jeff Davidson & Alfons Weersink, 1998. "What Does It Take for a Market to Function?," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 20(2), pages 558-572.
  4. Ogilvie,Sheilagh, 2011. "Institutions and European Trade," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521764179, March.
  5. 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.
  6. Avner Greif, 2002. "Institutions and Impersonal Exchange: From Communal to Individual Responsibility," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(1), pages 168-168, March.
  7. R. D. Face, 1958. "Techniques Of Business In The Trade Between The Fairs Of Champagne And The South Of Europe In The Twelfth And Thirteenth Centuries," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 10(3), pages 427-438, April.
  8. 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.
  9. Munro, John H., 2000. "The 'New Institutional Economics' and the Changing Fortunes of Fairs in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: the Textile Trades, Warfare, and Transaction Costs," MPRA Paper 11029, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2001.
  10. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-776, August.
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