Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fragment 112

In the 1520s, Jakob Fugger, one of the great figures of pre-industrial capitalism, the man who introduced double entry bookkeeping to central Europe, financier to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and one of the founders of the huge and fantastically rich Fugger empire summoned Johann Eck, Papal Emissary and Grand Inquisitor, the great adversary of the Reformation, in order to discuss the state of his soul imperilled by usury.

In this event we see in microcosm the struggle in the Western mind and culture between the modernity of international systems of credit and the material benefits it brought, and the medievalism of the Church’s age-old strictures against it. Fugger paid for his confessor’s journey. The Capitalist called, the Church came.

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