The Idea of a Moral Economy: Gerard of Siena on Usury, Restitution, and Prescription

The Idea of a Moral Economy: Gerard of Siena on Usury, Restitution, and Prescription

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By Lawrin Armstrong
Toronto Studies in Medieval Law
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2016
World Rights
344 Pages 1 Images
ISBN 9781442643222
Published Apr 2016
Online discount: 25%
 $75.00    $56.25
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442695696
Published Apr 2016
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The Idea of a Moral Economy is the first modern edition and English translation of three questions disputed at the University of Paris in 1330 by the theologian Gerard of Siena. The questions represent the most influential late medieval formulation of the natural law argument against usury and the illicit acquisition of property. Together they offer a particularly clear example of scholastic ideas about the nature and purpose of economic activity and the medieval concept of a moral economy.

In his introduction, editor Lawrin Armstrong discusses Gerard’s arguments and considers their significance both within the context of scholastic philosophy and law and as a critique of contemporary mainstream economics. His analysis demonstrates how Gerard’s work is not only a valuable source for understanding economic thought in pre-modern Europe, but also a fertile resource for scholars of law, economics, and philosophy in medieval Europe and beyond.

Lawrin Armstrong is a professor at the Center for Medieval Studies, cross-appointed to the Departments of History and Economics, at the University of Toronto.

Preface and Acknowledgements

Quaestio de usura
Tractatus de restitution
Quaestio de praescriptione

A Question on Usury
A Treatise on Restitution
A Question on Prescription


"In its direct, succinct, and very insightful way, The Idea of a Moral Economy makes a major contribution to the understanding of scholastic economic thought and the transmission of ideas in the Middle Ages more generally."

William Caferro, Department of History, Vanderbilt University

 "Lawrin Armstrong's lucid translation offers access to Gerard's thought and to the radical differences between his 'medieval' notions and those of modern capitalism."

Christopher Schabel, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Cyprus

‘Larwin Armstrong is to be praised for providing us with a valuable scholarly edition of Gerard’s influential work.’

Stephen H. Rigby, Economic History Review vol 69:04:2016