This volume takes up bankruptcy in early modern Europe, when its frequency made it not only an economic problem but a personal tragedy and a social evil. Using legal, business and personal records, the essays in this volume examine the impact of failure on business organizations and practices, capital formation and circulation, economic institutions and ethics, and human networks and relations in the so-called "transition" to modern society, from the early-sixteenth to the early-nineteenth century. One group of essays concentrates on the German-speaking world and shows a common concern for the microeconomics of bankruptcy, that is, for such issues as the structure of the firm, the nature of its capital, and the practices of its partners, especially their assessment of risk. Another group of essays shifts the focus from Central to Western and Northern Europe and away from the microeconomics of the early modern firm to an institutional consideration of bankruptcy. The final group of essays turns to Southern Europe, especially the Mediterranean basin, to assess bankruptcy not as an unfortunate result of crisis, but as an intentional response to crisis. All of the contributions are the result of original research; many of the scholars publish in English for the first time.
All of the chapters are founded on close archival research, offering insights not only into business organization and practice but also into social and cultural aspects of economic life from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century.
"This book should provide an essential starting point for the comparative historical analysis of one of the central features of capitalism. In addition, it suggests the rich sources that the records of economic failure can provide for historians to answer a wide array of questions." -Bradley A. Hansen, Department of Economics, University of Mary Washington
"Overall, the fifteen contributors to the thirteen essays of the volume have done excellent work turning the complex documents into useful narratives." - Mary Hansen, American University, Journal of the History of Economic Thought
1. Introduction: A History of Bankruptcy and Bankruptcy in History Thomas Max Safley I. Social Contexts 2. Merchants' Bankruptcies, Economic Development and Social Relations in German Cities during the Long 16th Century Mark Häberlein 3. Debt and Default in 18th-Century Champagne Tom Brennan 4. Credit, Trust and Risk: Shopkeepers' Bankruptcies in 18th-Century Paris Natacha Coquery 5. Financial Networks, Migration and the Transformation of the Merchant Elite in 18th-Century Stockholm Klas Nyberg and Håkan Jakobsson II. Business Practices 6. Bankruptcy in the Kingdom of Naples: The Case of Public Banks (17th-18th Centuries) Paula Avallone 7. Learning from Others' Failures: The Rise of the Monte di pieta in Early Modern Bologna Mauro Carboni and Massimo Fornassari 8. Bankruptcy and the Bank: The Case of the ‘kaiserlich königliche Wiener octroyierte Commercial-, Leih- und Wechselbank’ of Vienna in the 18th Century Dana Stefanova 9. Boom and Crisis in Financing the British Transatlantic Trade: A Case Study of the Bankruptcy of John Leigh & Company in 1811 Mina Ishizu III: Institutional Developments 10. The Insolvent Zuchthaus as Cameralist Dystopia Andre Wakefield 11. Bankruptcy in Early-Modern German Territories Paul Fischer 12. Bankruptcy, Insolvency and Debt Collection among Merchants in Antwerp (c. 1490-c.1540) Dave De ruysschen 13. The Reception of the Actio Pauliana in Scots Law John MacLeod 14. Bankruptcy, Fresh Start and Debt Renegotation in England and France (17th-18th Century) Jérôme Sgard