Ius mercatorum and statutes of Florence during the 14th and 15th centuries: The case of bankruptcy

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During the Middle Ages, bankruptcy law developed within the ius mercatorum to respond to the specific trade needs of merchants. Although, the municipal statutes of Florence, between 1322 and 1415, regulated bankruptcy. Why did
they intervene on a subject that should have been disciplined by special commercial laws, like the Mercanzia’s or the Arts’ statutes? The answer could lay on the mark of shame that hit bankrupts and the on great impact that a bankruptcy used to have on the life of the entire civitas. Indeed, in the public opinion, a bankruptcy appeared as a strongly antisocial phenomenon and legislators qualified it as gravely anti-juridical, ordering a particularly repressive
discipline, also for all members of the cessans’ family. Furthermore, the dissatisfaction of foreign creditors could provoke harmful consequences also for the citizens of the bankrupt’s town who lived in the country of origin of the
same creditor, if this latter decides to use reprisals. A bankruptcy, therefore, was likely to cause damages to such an extent that it was a city’s authority concern to discipline its consequences. From this perspective, in this article, we
will proceed to analyze the rules about bankruptcy of the Statutes of the city of Florence, trying to compare the regulations of the different compilations of 1322, 1355 (still not published), and 1415.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-227
Number of pages24
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Bankruptcy
  • Merchants
  • Statutes
  • Middle Ages
  • Florence


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