After the crisis of the 14th century, economy expanded from the late 15th century. The main signs of the economic recovery were: 

  • AGRICULTURAL GROWTH. Farming land increase however there were not technical advances. The three field system continued. The arable land was divided into three sectors and crops rotated each year. One sector was left fallow to fertilize the land, on the other two sectors cereals and and lentils were cultivated.  Agriculture and livestock farming were the base of the economy, then, when there were series of bad harvests, hunger and diseases reapeared.

  • COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY. The increase of agricultural production generated a surplus of food production. These products were sold in local markets but new trade routes were established after the discovery of America.  Maritime long distance trade and land routes favored the development of trade.

  • CRAFTMANSHIP EXPANSION Guilds continued to control production and prices. However to cover the growing demand, the domestic system was implemented. Merchants supplied  tools and materials to the families in order to produce the goods.

  • NEW PRODUCTS  such as precious metals, foods and spices were brought to Europe after the geographical discoveries. 
  • DEVELOPMENT OF MERCANTILE CAPITALISM. The bourgeoisie controlled trade by creating companies to generate profits. The development of trade generated profits that were invested in new projects or accumulated capitals which led to the development of  banking and commercial capitalism.


  • LOANS TO START BUSINESSES. Merchants needed money to begin their commercial expeditions. Bankers lent money at interest. The traders could pay the loans back and bankers became rich. Monarchs also asked for loans. The Medici in Florence and the Fugger family in Germany were the most important bankers in Europe. Banking played an important role in financing companies and businesses as well as in the new economic system, the commercial capitalism. 

Mercaderes y banqueros de la Edad Media

  • NEW FORMS OF PAYMENT. The bill of exchange was developed. It was a document which granted that a banker would pay a merchant a quantity of money on a specific date and place. With the bill of exchange, travelling with cash was avoided.

Primera letra de cambio del mundo curiosidades de valencia


test economy 16th century