“What Lessons for Economic Development Can We Draw from the Champagne Fairs?”

There is a new paper by Jeremy Edwards and Sheilagh Ogilvie, here is the abstract:

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.

It is a very nice paper and also quite readable.  Sheilagh’s star continues to rise and Edwards is also no slouch.  Here is their paper “revising” Avner Greif’s thesis about the Maghribi traders.


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