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The Underground Wealth of Nations – On the Capitalist Origins of Silver Mining, A.D. 1150-1450 - Yale Scholarship Online
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The Underground Wealth of Nations: On the Capitalist Origins of Silver Mining, A.D. 1150-1450

Jeannette Graulau


Hundreds of years before a sixteenth-century crisis in European agriculture led to the origins of capital, investment, and finance, the silver mining industry exhibited many of the features of modern capitalism. Silver mines were large-scale businesses that demanded large investments and steady cash flow, achieved by spreading that risk through fungible shares and creating legal structures to protect entrepreneurs from financial disaster. This book argues that mining preceded agriculture as the first true capitalist enterprise of the modern world.

Keywords: capitalism, European agriculture, capital, finance, silver mining industry, cash flow, investment

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780300218220
Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020 DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300218220.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jeannette Graulau, author
The City University of New York