Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World: Illustrative Documents

Publication Year



This collection of merchant documents is essential reading for any student of economic developments in the Middle Ages who wishes to go beyond the level of textbook summaries. Different aspects of economic life in the Mediterranean world are delineated in the light of a rich variety of articles and other contemporary writings, drawn from Muslim and Christian sources. From commercial contracts, promissory notes, and judicial acts to working manuals of practical geography and philology, this volume of documents provides an unparalleled portrait of the world of medieval commerce.

Table of Contents

Note on Coinage, Weights, and Other Technical Terms
Pt. 1. At the Origins of the Commercial Revolution
I. Commerce in the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim East, and the Catholic West
Pt. 2. Markets, Merchants, Merchandise, and Means of Exchange During the Commercial Revolution
II. The Development of Markets
III. The Growth of the Merchant Class
IV. The Diversification of Merchandise
V. The Evolution of the Means of Exchange
Pt. 3. Commercial Contracts and Commercial Investments
VI. Loans and the Problem of Interest
VII. The Contract of Exchange and Its Double Function
VIII. The Sea Loan and the Sea Exchange
IX. The Commenda Contract
X. Partnerships and Other Contracts Used in Land Trade
XI. Depositors, Factors, and Commission Agents
XII. Some Other Forms of Agreement
XIII. Informal Commercial Papers
Pt. 4. The Route and the Thorns Along It
XIV. Transportation by Sea
XV. Transportation by Land
XVI. The Development of Insurance Contracts
XVII. Commercial Litigation and Sharp Business Practices
XVIII. Business Failures and their Settlement
XIX. International Disputes over Trade
XX. Legal Restrictions of Trade
Pt. 5. Tools and Ideas
XXI. Manuals
XXII. The Progress of Accounting Methods
XXIII. Commercial Correspondence
XXIV. Moral Standards and Practical Advice
List of Works Cited


“Because of its extensive notes and commentary, Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World continues to be useful to scholars. Its principal value, however, is as a teaching text: as one of the few that concentrates on documentary rather than narrative records.” Adam J. Costo, Columbia University

Series Title
Records of Western Civilization
Columbia University Press
New York
Cloth: 9780231123563; paper: 9780231123570; ebook: 9780231515122