Social Economy

Excerpt of the Cover of the Book: Karitativer Kredit.
Tanja Skambraks – “Karitativer Kredit. Die Monti di Pietà, franziskanische Wirtschaftsethik und städtische Sozialpolitik in Italien (15. und 16. Jahrhundert)”

The credit economy in the Middle Ages was based on a Christian economic ethics, especially on the ideas of charity and the common good. Inspired by these ethics, hundreds of municipal pawnshops were founded in 15th century Italy. Called “Mountains of Piety” (Monti di Pietà), these institutes granted cheap small loans to craftsmen, day labourers and small traders and also offered financial investments and banking services. In her work, Tanja Skambraks examines the history of these pawnshops and their economic-ethical foundations in the 15th and 16th centuries.  The study shows that microcredit is not an invention of modernity and addresses the idea of a moral economy with high relevance for the present.

Excerpt of the Cover of the "Magazin der deutschen Forschungsgesellschaft"
“Berge der Barmherzigkeit” – Tanja Skambraks and Annette Kehnel on early forms of sustainable practice (forschung, 3–4/2022)

In their article “Berge der Barmherzigkeit” (engl. “Mountains of Piety”), Tanja Skambraks and Annette Kehnel refer to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, who as founder of the Grameen Bank has become known as the “banker of the poor” by granting microcredits. Yunus himself sees microcredit as the key to a “world without poverty”.  However – according to Tanja Skambraks and Annette Kehnel – the idea of microfinance already played an important role in the economic life of the Middle Ages.  They claim that already in the late Middle Ages the losers of economic growth were picked up by, among others, well-organised pawn banks. Read more about the background in the linked article!