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Chapter 8: Emerging Out of the Shadows: Europe
In the medieval power structure, the merchant community in Europe was confronted with two dominant powers: first, the local magnates such as the dukes and the counts who rule the mosaic of principalities that emerged as the Western Roman Empire collapsed; second, the Church. After the fall of the Roman power in the West, some imperial functions passed to the Latin Christian Church—some but not all, for the Church's authority was essentially spiritual or ideological, not military, and its claims were embodied in law, not in armies (Hall, 1986: 120–121).
How did the merchant community adapt to this power structure, with entrenched interests stretching back to centuries, and emerge as economic entrepreneurs, with an ethical ...