audio: The just Price - Usury, purgatory, and Francis of Assisi
When trading made a simple man richer than his lord the mediaeval world order began to totter. The Church had always preached the doctrine of the three estates where every person had its set place. What should be done about all those who refused to remain in their place? Clerical theorists were convinced that money was the problem. But they couldn’t get rid of money. They needed to come to terms with it and thus theologists developed the doctrine of the right and wrong use of money. The path to heaven was rocky for any rich man, but preachers of the High Middle Ages claimed that at least there was such a path.
This argument was spread in their own interest as well, because despite the fact that the Church damned money in theory, its representatives did use the new services of bankers in practice. Their contradicting behavior caused a crisis in confidence which wasn’t overcome until the establishment of the mendicant order. Our Picture Tour “Usury, purgatory, and Francis of Assisi” explains how the Church came to an arrangement with merchants and vice versa.