What Lessons for Economic Development Can We Draw from the Champagne Fairs?
42 Pages Posted: 19 May 2011
Date Written: April 29, 2011
The medieval Champagne fairs are widely used to draw lessons about the institutional basis for long-distance impersonal exchange. This paper re-examines the causes of the outstanding success of the Champagne fairs in mediating international trade, the timing and causes of the fairs’ decline, and the institutions for securing property rights and enforcing contracts at the fairs. It finds that contract enforcement at the fairs did not take the form of private-order or corporative mechanisms, but was provided by public institutions. More generally, the success and decline of the Champagne fairs depended crucially on the policies adopted by the public authorities.
Keywords: legal system, medieval Europe, trade, private-order institutions, community responsibility system
JEL Classification: N430, N730, O170
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation