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Compassionate Capitalism: Business and Community in Medieval England

Contemporary businesses are frequently challenged to invest the profits from their commercial successes into projects that benefit society. Yet the idea that the pursuit of competitiveness should also promote the common good is not a new one. Indeed its origins can be seen in the Middle Ages.

England in the late thirteenth century had a dynamic economy. Legal advances created a lively property market and commodity trade, cutting-edge technologies improved transport and manufacturing, and towns grew dramatically, both in number and size. The period from c.1200 to c.1350 is now recognised as a period of commercial growth that was as significant as the later Industrial Revolution.

Using recently discovered documents on medieval Cambridge this book investigates how money was made through property speculation, and how the profits of successful speculation were spent. However 13th century expansion was not based on individualistic capitalism. Family bonds and community loyalty were strong and 36 family dynasties were active in the Cambridge property market, and many were successful in establishing, maintaining or even expanding portfolios.

This book is written by Catherine Casson with Mark Casson (University of Reading), John S. Lee (University of York) and Katie Phillips (University of Reading)and published by Bristol University Press. 

This book review is featured in issue 6 of our AMBS Magazine. 

Catherine‚Äôs book was recently reviewed by The Guardian.