History of bankruptcy in early modern europe

EH.net keeps one abreast of some really interesting books on econ history. Its book review section is really top stuff.

In the latest book review, it points to this book which looks at history of bankruptcy in early modern Europe. It is reviewed  by Bradley A. Hansen of University of Mary Washington.

I mean why study of bankruptcy is important? Well, it gives us tremendous insights:

The papers in this volume demonstrate that bankruptcy provides an avenue to explore cultural, as well as economic, dimensions of early modern Europe. The book makes available the work of several scholars that had not been previously available in English. The papers are grouped into three categories: social context, business practice, and institutional change. The categorization is a largely matter of emphasis since most of the papers contain information about each of these areas. In general, the authors take two different approaches to bankruptcy. The first approach uses evidence from bankruptcy cases to provide a window into business practices in early modern Europe. The second approach explores how the methods of resolving bankruptcy cases evolved over time.

It tells you about culture, customs etc as well:

Many of the papers in the book use the failures of particular merchants to examine business practices, while others examine large numbers of failures. Mark Häberlein examines the failure of the Sulzer brothers in late sixteenth century Augsburg, with particular emphasis on the ways in which bankruptcy was connected to issues of honor, kinship and gender. He notes, for instance, that bankrupt merchants “had to take their seats among the women during weddings and funerals.” 

Fascinating..Should be a great read..


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