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Una fiera senza luogo. Was Bisenzone an offshore capital market in sixteenth-century Italy?


  • Luciano Pezzolo

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice Ca� Foscari)

  • Giuseppe Tattara

    (Department of Economics, University Of Venice Ca� Foscari)


This paper discusses how Genoese bankers collected money at exchange fairs. This money was then lent to the King of Spain - through the asientos - from the mid-sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. Genoese bankers raised capital at the exchange fairs , which were typical short-term credit mechanism, where foreign bills of exchange were discounted over a three-month period. The Genoese funded long-term obligations by means of short term loans which meant they were able to enforce payment to the King and at the same time successfully manage the supply of finance from a large number of easily substitutable markets, located in different states. The Bisenzone fair of exchange was the forerunner to an efficient, widely integrated international capital market where Genoese pre-eminence was firmly established and which the Genoese kept firmly under their control. The success of the Bisenzone fairs of exchange directly challenges the theory which suggests that the laws against usury restrained the development of capital markets in early modern Italy.

Suggested Citation

  • Luciano Pezzolo & Giuseppe Tattara, 2006. "Una fiera senza luogo. Was Bisenzone an offshore capital market in sixteenth-century Italy?," Working Papers 2006_25, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2006_25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pesaran, M. H. & Shin, Y. & Smith, R. J., 1996. "Testing for the 'Existence of a Long-run Relationship'," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9622, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. repec:crs:wpaper:9645 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Raymond de Roover, 1944. "What is Dry Exchange? A Contribution to the Study of English Mercantilism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52, pages 250-250.
    4. James Conklin, 1998. "The Theory of Sovereign Debt and Spain under Philip II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 483-513, June.
    5. Annalisa Rosselli, 2000. "Early Views on Monetary Policy: The Neapolitan Debate on the Theory of Exchange," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 32(1), pages 61-82, Spring.
    6. Greif, Avner, 2000. "The fundamental problem of exchange: A research agenda in Historical Institutional Analysis," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(03), pages 251-284, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chilosi, David & Schulze, Max-Stephan & Volckart, Oliver, 2016. "Benefits of empire? Capital market integration north and south of the Alps, 1350-1800," Economic History Working Papers 65346, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item


    Financial markets; market integration; financial institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913


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