The Fuggers and the Archduke



The Fuggers a German banking dynasty make their first loan to the Archduke of Habsburg, taking as security an interest in silver and copper mines in the Tirol. This was the beginning of an extensive family involvement in mining and precious metals.



The Fuggers make a loan to Maximilian.



Paris's Jean Gerson and Tubingen's Conrad Summenhardt, Gabriel Biel and John Eck argued that usury occurred only when the lender intended to oppress the borrower. Eck, supported by the Fugger banking family, became famous for his book Tractates contractu quinque de centum, defending five percent as a harmless and therefore legal rate of interest as long as the loan was for a bona fide business opportunity. For these nominalists the proper measure of usury was the intent of the borrower and lender. If they were in charity with one another the loan was licit.



One of the largest Fugger projects is the loan of 533,000 florins to Charles the grandson of Maximillian. Charles raised a total of 852,000 florins which was spent bribing the seven electors who elected the candidate as Charles V.



The Fuggers are granted the revenues from the Spanish orders of knighthood together with the profits from mercury and silver mines.


South America

The marauding Spaniards discovered an empire rich in gold, the Incan Empire, along the gold-bearing Andes mountain range, was rich in gold, perhaps the richest on earth.



John Calvin halts the ban on usury.



John Calvin's letter on usury made it clear that when Christ said "lend hoping for nothing in return," He meant that we should help the poor freely. Following the rule of equity, we should judge people by their circumstances, not by legal definitions. Humanist that he was, Calvin knew there were two Hebrew words translated as "usury." One, neshek, meant "to bite"; the other, tarbit, meant "to take legitimate increase." Based on these distinctions, Calvin argued that only "biting" loans were forbidden. Thus, one could lend at interest to business people who would make a profit using the money. To the working poor one could lend without interest, but expect the loan to be repaid. To the impoverished one should give without expecting repayment.



The crown's first bankruptcy.

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