Credit Finance in the Middle Ages: Loans to the English Crown c. 1272-1340
The project analysis is founded on a new dataset of financial transactions between the English crown and the merchant societies, compiled from a systematic search of the major published and unpublished royal records.
The most important source for the relationship between the kings and their bankers is the formal accountings held between the king and the merchants at irregular intervals, which were generally enrolled on the Pipe Roll (E 372) and its duplicate, the Chancellor’s Roll (E 352). There are, however, only a relatively small number of comprehensive accounts between the king and the merchants: the Ricciardi account for 1290-1294; the Frescobaldi accounts for 1294-1310, and the Bardi account for 1294-1313. This means that such final enrolled accounts only exist for twenty-four of the seventy years covered by this project. These were supplemented with the numerous surviving rolls of particulars prepared during the course of the accounting process and other related documents that mostly survive amongst the Exchequer Miscellanea (E 101). Such rolls of particulars also valuable additional detail omitted in the more concise final accounts. These documents were transcribed and calendared in 'Accounts of the English Crown with Italian merchant societies, 1272-1345'. Additionally, we also tracked all references to the Italian merchant societies through the other records series produced by the royal administration, most notably Chancery letters patent, close and liberate (C 54, C 62 and C 66), the Exchequer issue, receipt, and memoranda rolls (E 401, E 403 and E 159/368). and wardrobe books and accounts (E 101).
The details of all the transactions between the kings and the merchants were identified, transcribed and entered into a number of databases tailored to the particular historical sources and merchant societies. These were used to track the advancing of loans and subsequent repayments and thus to estimate the balance of the king’s account over time and formed the basis for our reconstruction of the relationship between the king and each of the merchant societies. Subsequently, the key details of every single unique transaction were then entered into a master dataset as either a credit or as a debit to the royal account with the merchants. It is a preliminary version of this master dataset that is being made accessible now.