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Medieval Money, Merchants, and Morality

Diane Wolfthal, with Steven A. Epstein, David Yoon, and Deirdre Jackson
232 pages
8 x 10 inches

A vibrantly illustrated, interdisciplinary volume that explores how art reflected and reinforced the complex ethical discussions that developed from the widespread role of money in the Middle Ages

The rise of the monetary economy transformed every aspect of medieval Europe, including its values and culture. Published on the occasion of an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum from November 10, 2023 to March 10, 2024, Medieval Money, Merchants, and Morality is a timely look at the economic revolution that took place in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It traces the origins of global money, and surveys economic history, focusing on the environment, the plague, Jews, and institutions. The iconography, minting, and foreign exchange of coins are examined, and the choice that Christians faced is investigated: Should they save their money or their soul? The authors explore images of avarice, the greedy punished in hell, and immoral ways to earn and spend money, and analyze representations of charity and voluntary poverty. Final chapters examine the material culture of the monetary economy—from an illuminated oath for minters to purses and lockboxes—and images of medieval money management.

Published by the Morgan Library & Museum in association with D Giles Limited

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