of Trade Fairs: At first, trade fairs were
traveling marketplaces, offering goods for sale by many different
sellers. A fair would be set up for a couple of weeks. Then the sellers
would move on to another location.
Trade fairs grew quickly in both size and
importance. Goods were pouring in by ship and by caravan from Africa,
Asia, and other parts of Europe.
Some traders, from faraway places, arrived
personally with goods to sell in the growing trade fairs. Along with
goods, the traveling merchants and traders brought their own coinage.
Traders needed moneychangers who would exchange one form of currency for
another. Moneychangers charged for this service, just as bankers did in
ancient Greece, and just as banks do today. Moneychangers only charged a
small amount per exchange, but so many exchanges happened at the fairs
that most bankers became quite rich.
Barter was no longer an accepted form of payment. Merchants wanted money
for their goods. The nobles wanted the luxury goods they sold. But the
nobles did not have a lot of cash to use to buy them. Nobles had always
used the manorial system, a barter system, to gain the goods they
To raise money, the nobles began to sell their
crops for cash. They used the money they made to buy luxury goods. Many
ordered more luxury goods than they had cash to purchase. To get more
cash, some nobles borrowed money from the new banks, offering their land
as guarantee of payment.
It never occurred to these nobles that they
actually had to pay the banks back. The banks were owned and operated,
for the most part, by peasants. It came as a huge shock to the nobles
that their king was going to make them pay back their loans or lose
Although the nobles were shocked, and many did lose
their land, the king was thrilled with the new money system. It allowed
him a way to easily tax the noble lords, the craftsmen, the traders -
both local and foreign - and the moneychangers.
Buy Their Way to Freedom
of Towns, Trade, Guilds -
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