Money and Finance: From the Middle Ages to Modernity

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Oliver Volckart SAR 6.10 and Dr Olivier Accominotti SAR 5.14


This course is available on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History and BSc in Economics with Economic History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course provides an overview of the main developments in monetary and financial history from 800 to the present day, taking the students from the simple beginnings of medieval European monetary history to the complex financial arrangements of the modern world. The first part of the course covers the emergence of money and finance from the medieval ages to the early modern period. The second part examines the main developments in the global financial system since the nineteenth century. Historical developments in major European and non-European countries (England, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, USA) will be discussed and compared. The course is designed to introduce students to the main concepts of money and finance (financial development, financial integration, monetary policy, banking crises etc.) and to provide a long run perspective to the current policy debate.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

The students will produce 3 formative essays. The exercise will help them practice academic writing (structuring and presenting arguments, providing explanations, referencing etc.); a skill both necessary for the dissertation they are expected to write in year 3 and helpful for the exam of this course that will take place in summer term. The class presentation has a formative character, too. Students will practice presenting complex arguments to their peers and answering questions from the audience.

Indicative reading

1. Barrett, W. (1990): World Bullion Flows, 1450-1800, in: Tracy, J.D., ed., The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World 1350-1750, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press), pp. 224-254.

2. Chilosi, D. and Volckart, O. (2011). Money, States and Empire: Financial Integration and Institutional Change in Central Europe, 1400-1520. Journal of Economic History 71, 762-791.

3. Eichengreen, B. (1992), Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939, Oxford (Oxford University Press).

4. Eichengreen, B. (2008), Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System, Princeton (Princeton University Press).

5. Friedman, M. and A. Schwartz (1963), A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, Princeton (Princeton University Press).

6. Kindleberger, C. P. (2005), Manias, Panics and Crashes. A History of Financial Crises, 5th edition, New York: Macmillan.

7. Reinhart, C. and K. Rogoff (2009), This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton (Princeton University Press).

8. Spufford, P. (1991): Money and its Use in Medieval Europe, Cambridge et al. (Cambridge University Press).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2016/17: 80

Average class size 2016/17: 18

Capped 2016/17: No

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 69%



Reading list (Q2.1)


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