The Invention of Banking

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The Invention of Banking (49:00)
Item# 33547

In 13th- and 14th-century Tuscany, money became the new tool of power as industry, trade, and finance flourished. This program follows the remarkable rise of the great banking families whose groundbreaking innovations in finance led to the economics of international big business practiced today. Merchant bankers also supported the aims of the Catholic Church by using their extraordinary wealth to become patrons for charities and spectacular works of art and architecture. Featured interviews include Nicholas Terpstra and Dr. Elizabeth Leesti, historians at the University of Toronto. (49 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (12)

1. Italy's Financial Renaissance (02:32)
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During 1200-1350 B.C., Europe’s Dark Ages were coming to an end and new ideas for cities, commerce, art, and religion were dawning. A new power of bankers and businessmen emerged.

2. Archives of Siena, Italy (03:54)

The artistically-painted folios date back to 1100 and include financial transactions such as taxes and fines. The manufacture of paper and invention of eyeglasses were important for businesses.

3. Factors for Growing Trade and Finance (05:05)

Industry, trade, and finance flourished in thirteenth and fourteenth century Italy. The Crusades helped improve roads for trade. Fibonacci introduced the Arabic numeral system in 1202 for businesses.

4. Creation of a Banking System: Part 1 (05:56)

Moving funds for Italian merchants was dangerous. Siena built a safe house for traveling merchants. Being an international body, the Catholic church become the catalyst for banking and big business.

5. Creation of a Banking System: Part 2 (03:05)

Catholic monks and friars acted as clerks and kept financial records. Knights Templars were hired to transfer funds to the Holy Land. The church hired Siena merchants to conduct bills of exchange.

6. Creation of a Banking System: Part 3 (02:13)

Large Italian firms developed bills of exchange, relying on the establishment of internationally recognized currency, such as the Florin and Ducat, and exchange rates, a thirteenth century invention.

7. Usury: Merchants' Needs and Guilt (04:11)

The growth of Tuscan banking depended on usury, the illegal and immoral practice of charging interest on loans. Merchants were justified by theologians if they donated money to the church.

8. Italy's Fourteenth Century Wealth (02:49)

Moral responsibilities and temptations came with increase wealth. Gold was now available to the middle class. Giovanni Villani, a critic of Tuscan wealth, wrote about Italy’s simpler times.

9. Italy's Economic Boon (03:31)

Clothes became more luxurious during the 1200s-1300s, and improved domestic architecture included fireplaces, interior decorating, and glass windows. Country homes became popular too.

10. Status for the Italian Merchant Class (03:22)

The merchant class of the 1200s-1300s acquired new status, linking their identity to their cities. Siena adopted the "she-wolf" as its symbol, claiming the sons of Remus as its founders.

11. Early Italian Charitable Organizations (08:19)

The Italian urban poor of the 1200s-1300s included country folks who came for the textile jobs. Charity institutions, such as the confraternities and Franciscans, were formed to meet the new needs.

12. Birth of Banking Lives on Today (03:08)

Money proved to be the catalyst for many developing changes for the Renaissance, especially with the growth of cities and new approaches to government to help the Tuscan cities work.

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