Templars and Italians

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Templars and Italians

But there were other financiers.

Till their suppression by Philip IV of France in 1312 the Knights Templars had financed both popes and kings, including John and Henry III.

Still more important were the Italians, particularly the Florentines.

They came to England both for English wool and in their capacity as collectors of the Papal Revenue.

They had lent money to Richard I, and under Henry III and Edward I and II became the principal royal bankers, particularly the Florentine families of Bardi and Pcruzzi and Frescobaldi of Lucca.

Though Christians, they were notorious for their usurious extortions, the technical prohibition being avoided by making the loans nominally free of interest for a short period, the interest being charged for the damage done to the lender by non-payment when the "free period" expired.

They were generally regarded as being worse than the Jews, and were frequently attacked in riots.

However, neither the Papacy nor the Crown could do without them, and so They were protected.

But the life of a financial house in those days was a short if profitable one, especially for those who lent money to governments.

To-day, the last thing a man who lends money to a government wants is to have his money repaid him; all he wants is prompt payment of interest, and the ability to sell his bonds to another.

In the Middle Ages all loans were short-term loans, intended to be repaid.

Edward III defaulted on his loans from the Bardi and Peruzzi, and in 1345 they went bankrupt; and from then on the connection between foreign trade and the financial needs of the Crown becomes greater, as we shall see.

What next? - Local Policies.

Concessions and Finance; the Jews

For even in the twelfth century, if not earlier, the Crown was constantly in straits for ready money. Theoretically the feudal king was supposed to "live of his own"; that is, he was to run the kingdom as if it were his private estate, and pay the expenses out of revenue. His revenues were various; manorial rents, payments made by vassals on various specified occasions, rights of wardship and marriage, scutage (a payment made by vassals in lieu of military services), the firma lurgi (tax paid by the free boroughs), the profits of his law courts, and all kinds of miscellaneous fines and perquisites.... see: Concessions and Finance; the Jews

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