Mary Emma Baxter

Haggling Their Way out of Hell

Medici Money

By

Profile Books 273pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

When Giovanni di Bicci de’Medici, founder of the Medici Bank, died in 1429, he advised his children to ‘stay out of the public eye’. Never can paternal advice have been so ignored. Giovanni’s descendants left monuments to themselves all over Florence, and changed the political and financial scene in Italy for ever.

Giovanni registered the Medici Bank in Florence in 1397. Immediately he was told by a fellow merchant, ‘Nobody will ever think of you as an honest trader again.’ In the Divine Comedy, Dante reserves the third ditch of the seventh circle of hell for the usurers, the blasphemers, and the sodomites. Why was it, Tim Parks asks, that usury was not just a sin, but the sin on the minds of wealthy men approaching their deathbeds? He quotes Thomas Aquinas: ‘God creates work to complete man’s nature. Refusing work, the usurer rejects nature, rejects the way God has chosen for him.’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,