small urban agglomeration
a local "banker"
Before the Modern Age, kingdoms derived their power from agriculture and conquering; rulers needed nothing more to govern a village than a strong army and a credible priesthood.
The Tax Collectors (1520s) Oil Painting by Quentin Massys
“So say I lived in a village with the first five rows of this audience, and we all knew one another, and say I wanted to borrow money. The man who had his eyes wide open, he might lend it to me, and if I didn’t pay him back, you’d all know I was dodgy. I would get a bad reputation, and you would refuse to do business with me in the future. Trust was mostly local and accountability-based.
– Rachel Botsman at TEDSummit
"For a long period of time, trust was built around closed relationships and without third parts."
Bauernfeind, Gustav - 1887 Market in Jaffa
The rise of coin
Nearly three thousand years ago, in a remote part of Anatolia (then known as Lydia), was where the first revolution of the coin took place. Lydia was a small country lacking the agricultural output to feed the massive armies that sustained the large neighboring kingdoms of Mesopotamia. The Lydians scrounged their livings by selling jewelry and other luxury goods to the Persian Empire. In the seventh century b.C.,
the merchant kings of Lydia began using nuggets of gold and silver to trade. To mark the metal’s purity, they pressed a seal onto the surface of the nuggets, thereby flattening them slightly and inadvertently inventing coins.
The spread of the established markets, defined the need
for more practical ways of exchange validations.
With this commercial innovation, Lydia became the richest country in the classical world. Croesus, the name of the king of Lydia, was a synonym for great wealth.
Solon Before Croesus by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590 - 1656)
Ships crisscrossed the
high seas on almost every continent, building a global network of trade
The financial innovations promoted the rise of mercantile and banking families (among them the Medici), as a new social order where cleverness in business outbid prowess on the battlefield, or even the glory of a noble name. Such rearrangement gave rise to the artistic, architectural and literary expression for which the Renaissance is better remembered today than for their commercial genius.
The voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World and Vasco da Gama to India inaugurated the great mercantile age of international commerce. Within two centuries, the routes became firmly established, and many competitors fought to convey the spices and silks from Asia and Europe, slaves from Africa, and silver and sugar from America. Control of the trade passed from Portugal and Spain to England, Holland, and other European nations.
The movement originated in the banks of Italy, eventually establishing the paper currencies that banks issued for use in daily commerce. More fluid than the metallic predecessor, paper money hastened the end of feudalism, eliminated the privileges of heredity, and shifted economic power from land ownership to stocks, bonds, and corporations.
Still Life Writing Table - William Harnett Oil
for centuries all economic exchanges were validated through metal halide ballasts.