Really Old Money

The year was 1262, and the glorious city-state of Venice was enmeshed in a vicious naval campaign against the emperor of Byzantium and his Genovese allies. The Venetian government needed money, so the Great Council drafted the Ligatio pecuniae. The decree guaranteed 5% interest on money lent to the city-state for its war. The Venetians prevailed and, in the process, established the precursor to the system of borrowing on which every modern government relies. Without it, we wouldn't have deficit financing, Treasury bills or Alan Greenspan.

That is just one of the stories colorfully told and illustrated in The Origins of...

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