An Essay on Mediaeval Economic Teaching eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about An Essay on Mediaeval Economic Teaching.

[Footnote 3:  History of Political Economy, p. 26.]

[Footnote 4:  Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, vol. i. p. 252.]

[Footnote 5:  Cunningham, Western Civilisation, vol. ii. pp. 9-10.]

[Footnote 6:  P. 25.]

But we must not be taken to suggest that there were no conflicts between the teaching and the practice of the Middle Ages.  As we have seen, the economic teaching of that period was ethical, and it would be absurd to assert that every man who lived in the Middle Ages lived up to the high standard of ethical conduct which was proposed by the Church.[1] One might as well say that stealing was an unknown crime in England since the passing of the Larceny Act.  All we do suggest is that the theory had such an important and incalculable influence upon practice that the study of it is not rendered futile or useless because of occasional or even frequent departures from it in real life.  Even Endemann says:  ’The teaching of the canon law presents a noble edifice not less splendid in its methods than in its results.  It embraces the whole material and spiritual natures of human society with such power and completeness that verily no room is left for any other life than that decreed by its dogmas.’[2] ’The aim of the Church,’ says Janssen, ’in view of the tremendous agencies through which it worked, in view of the dominion which it really exercised, cannot have the impression of its greatness effaced by the unfortunate fact that all was not accomplished that had been planned.’[3] The fact that tyranny may have been exercised by some provincial governor in an outlying island of the Roman Empire cannot close our eyes to the benefits to be derived from a study of the code of Justinian; nor can a remembrance of the manner in which English law is administered in Ireland in times of excitement, blind us to the political lessons to be learned from an examination of the British constitution.

[Footnote 1:  The many devices which were resorted to in order to evade the prohibition of usury are explained in Dr. Cunningham’s Growth of English Industry and Commerce, vol. i. p. 255.  See also Delisle, L’Administration financiere des Templiers, Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1889, vol. xxxiii. pt. ii., and Ashley, Economic History, vol. i. pt. ii. p. 426.  The Summa Pastoralis of Raymond de Pennafort analyses and demolishes many of the commoner devices which were employed to evade the usury laws.  On the part played by the Jews, see Brants, op. cit., Appendix I.]

[Footnote 2:  Die Nationaloekonomischen Grundsaetze der canonistischen Lehre, p. 192.]

[Footnote 3:  History of the German People (Eng. trans.), vol. ii. p. 99.]


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