Katarina Stulrajterova: The Dawn of Accountancy – The Gallerani London Ledger 1303. Abstract # 10 (random order)

“Thirteenth century progress was reflected not only in the growth of universities and the ability of merchants to conduct commercial transactions between relatively distant areas, but also in an increasingly sophisticated level of practical mathematics in accountancy. New mathematical learning permeated workshops, warehouses, dockyards, inns and taverns, and was disseminated by means of factors, apprentices and merchants through manuscripts, journals, ledgers, notarial deeds, bills and letters. The most prominent facilitators of this trend in 13th century England were undoubtedly Italian merchants, including the Gallerani, whose primary goal was the promotion of long distance trading, the offering of financial services and the proper recording of such transactions in DEB.

The Gallerani family, both individually and collectively, were active throughout the whole of the 13th and 14th centuries, though the archival material that has survived best shows their activity between c.1280 and 1309. There are hints that the Gallerani company might have been based in Siena with several branches abroad (London, Paris, Bruges, Rome). Only an analysis of all parts will allow us to establish the precise organisation and hierarchy of command between the HQ and branches, and within the branches themselves.

The Gallerani are still a relative unknown in the equations of the intellectual and economic history of late medieval England. This certainly applies to the communication channels used between the London branch and both the headquarters in Siena and the other branches in France. The depth of trade and credit services as well as the networking with other Italian merchant companies in London has as yet largely escaped our attention too.

No account of the emerging mathematical culture in England has considered the Gallerani contribution to practical learning and the spread of numeracy and the practice of accountancy. This deficit is all the more regrettable, as the London ledger, like no other contemporary resource, illuminates the progress of development toward the shaping of full-blown double-entry bookkeeping.

Only by reuniting the whole corpus of the Gallerani London Ledger – Il Libro Vecchio delle uscite e delle entrate, Il Libro Nuovo delle Uscite e delle Entrate, Il Libro dei Conti and Il Libro Grande – in a complete edition and by placing them in their social, cultural and intellectual context will their true significance within a recreated trading and financial network become apparent.”

 

Katarina Stulrajterova (University of Oxford)

Presentation: Oct 24, 9.10-9.30 a.m., University of Regensburg, Großer Sitzungssaal des Philosophikums (PT 3.0.79) [PROGRAMME]

 

Picture credits: © Guillaume Piolle, via Wikimedia Commons

 


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