How Medieval Italian Bankers Grew Rich Making Interest-Free Loans


In the 14th and 15th centuries, religion and law in Western Europe often prohibited the practice of usury—defined as the charging of any interest on loans. Many international bankers, who were predominantly Italian, made money by charging interest in circuitous ways. They also monetized the goodwill and leverage their ‘interest-free’ lending brought to them. This case study encourages readers to think about the multiple ways a business can make money from its product, and the implications such multiplicity has for business strategy and public policy.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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