Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mount of piety

(via Silvio Pellico)

Both the Italian term monte di pietà and the French term mont de piété translate into English as mount of piety.

The first institution was started in 1361 by the Bishop of London, Michael Northburgh, who left 1000 marks of silver for the establishment of a bank that should lend money on pawned objects, without interest, providing that the expenses of the institution be defrayed from its foundation capital.

The capital was eventually consumed, and the bank closed. More permanent institutions developed in fifteenth century Italy and was developed in cities as a reform against money lending. It is an example of one of the earliest forms of organized charity. More specifically, a public office which was organized and operated by Christians would offer financial loans at a moderate interest to those in need. This was viewed as a lesser evil than money lending because the principle of the organization was based on the benefit of the borrower and not the profit of the lender.

The spreading of this organization throughout the continent of Western Europe during the Middle Ages can be credited to the preaching of Franciscans and their condemnation of usury.

In 1462, the first recorded Monte di Pietà was founded in Perugia. Between the years 1462 and 1470, an estimated forty more of the same organization were developed.

The organization of the Monte di Pietà depended on acquiring a monte or a collection of funds from voluntary donations by financially privileged people who had no intentions of regaining their money. The people in need would then be able to come to the Monte di Pietà and give an item of value in exchange for a monetary loan. The term of the loan would last the course of a year and would only be worth about two-thirds of the borrower’s item value. A pre-determined interest rate would be applied to the loan and these profits were used to pay the expenses of operating the Monte di Pietà. (wiki)


Kcalpesh said...

Interesting history! I love these beautiful looking structures!

Saretta said...

Interesting! The original idea was great!