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-   -   How did they deal with money back in the old days? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=792526)

msmith537 05-07-2016 09:41 PM

How did they deal with money back in the old days?
 
The thought crossed my mind while watching shows like Outlander or Game of Thrones but the scenario could apply to any time period before the invention of wire transfers, ATMs, or even electricity.

Specifically, say I'm a wealthy lord traveling with my lady and a small entourage to some other country for an indefinite stay. What do I do for cash while travelling? Do I bring a big chest full of gold coins or whatever to use for purchasing stuff? What happens when I run out of local cash or am robbed? Did they have "credit" until I can send for another shipment of gold? Where do I store my gold securely?

robert_columbia 05-07-2016 09:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19314395)
The thought crossed my mind while watching shows like Outlander or Game of Thrones but the scenario could apply to any time period before the invention of wire transfers, ATMs, or even electricity.

Specifically, say I'm a wealthy lord traveling with my lady and a small entourage to some other country for an indefinite stay. What do I do for cash while travelling? Do I bring a big chest full of gold coins or whatever to use for purchasing stuff? What happens when I run out of local cash or am robbed? Did they have "credit" until I can send for another shipment of gold? Where do I store my gold securely?

If you were a member of the nobility, you presumably had social connections with nobility in relatively far-off places who could vouch for you, or at least put you up for the night. In other words, any noble eager for good brownie points would do a favor for a fellow in need. If you were just some rich nobody who found a stash of treasure, or had slowly gained your fortune trading, you were much more of a social nobody. That's why wealthy people sought connections - it was a mutual protection network.

friedo 05-07-2016 09:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19314395)
Specifically, say I'm a wealthy lord traveling with my lady and a small entourage to some other country for an indefinite stay. What do I do for cash while travelling? Do I bring a big chest full of gold coins or whatever to use for purchasing stuff? What happens when I run out of local cash or am robbed? Did they have "credit" until I can send for another shipment of gold? Where do I store my gold securely?

You could haul a big chest of gold with you if you want. But depending on how far you were traveling, a more common plan was to bring a letter of credit from a trusted banker. You could exchange that locally for gold or currency, and the bankers would settle among themselves. Banks still work the same way today, basically.

Mr. Kobayashi 05-07-2016 10:02 PM

Bills of exchange were one way of avoiding the risks that came with carrying gold.

Muffin 05-07-2016 10:12 PM

Knights Templar.

Dereknocue67 05-08-2016 03:42 AM

Way back then if your were traveling to another country and needed cash en-route, you simply purchased travelers checks from The Iron Bank of Braavos.

bob++ 05-08-2016 04:39 AM

Of course, if you are a big guy with a sharp sword, people would usually be happy to part with their chickens and offer you a warm bed for the night in return for an IOU.

RivkahChaya 05-08-2016 05:03 AM

There also used to be an expectation that if someone who was traveling, of whatever social status, knocked on your door, and needed something, you helped them to the extent you could, and knew that if you eve had to travel somewhere, people would do the same for you. This was true whatever the social status of you or the traveler, which the exception that if you were extremely wealthy or well-placed, and a peasant came by, he'd knock on the servants' door. Servants' lives were hard, but they were at least usually well-fed and warm, and could share. this was the way of the world through Europe and the European colonies through about 1820.

The railway system made traveling a whole different game. Customs changed, and cheap hotels outside big cities sprung up around railway hubs.

Still, I remember even when I was a little kid and I had relatives who lived in places where houses were spaced widely along a road, someone might stop by and ask to use the phone, and they'd be let in and allowed to do so as long as it wasn't long distance-- or if it was, they'd call the operator and ask the charge, and hand over cash, and if the person needed to use the phone because they had a car break down, say, they'd be offered food, and allowed to sit in a warm safe home until help arrived.

Melbourne 05-08-2016 06:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19314395)
Where do I store my gold securely?

You carry it. Personally. On your person. Your person is guarded by guards if necessary.

More than that, you use a letter of credit, as mentioned above.

Payrolls though, traveled by cart, and were defended by soldiers.

jtur88 05-08-2016 09:42 AM

Letters of credit seemed to be nearly universal, even internationally for European travel. Apparently, creditors would rather assume the risk of a phony letter, than to turn away the clientele and impugn the integrity of a lucrative high roller.

DrDeth 05-08-2016 11:58 AM

Note that gold was not often used for shopping. Silver, in coins about the size of dimes, was the most common.

furryman 05-08-2016 01:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RivkahChaya (Post 19314787)
There also used to be an expectation that if someone who was traveling, of whatever social status, knocked on your door, and needed something, you helped them to the extent you could, and knew that if you eve had to travel somewhere, people would do the same for you. This was true whatever the social status of you or the traveler, which the exception that if you were extremely wealthy or well-placed, and a peasant came by, he'd knock on the servants' door. Servants' lives were hard, but they were at least usually well-fed and warm, and could share. this was the way of the world through Europe and the European colonies through about 1820.

The railway system made traveling a whole different game. Customs changed, and cheap hotels outside big cities sprung up around railway hubs.

Still, I remember even when I was a little kid and I had relatives who lived in places where houses were spaced widely along a road, someone might stop by and ask to use the phone, and they'd be let in and allowed to do so as long as it wasn't long distance-- or if it was, they'd call the operator and ask the charge, and hand over cash, and if the person needed to use the phone because they had a car break down, say, they'd be offered food, and allowed to sit in a warm safe home until help arrived.

I'm not sure if this is entirely true. In another thread about the longest running businesses they mentioned an inn outside of Tokyo that's been there since the city was called Edo. So at least the concept of travel and inns has been around for at least that long if not longer.

Mk VII 05-08-2016 01:22 PM

The goldsmiths were among the earliest bankers in Europe, although they would not have recognised the term. They even lent money to the king.
In many countries the Jews were prominent in this profession (there weren't many others they were allowed to follow)

GreenWyvern 05-08-2016 01:38 PM

Even in medieval times there were bankers, goldsmiths, and wealthy merchants who dealt with financial business.

Letters of credit, bills of exchange, and promissory notes were used.

By the 17th and 18th century the system was quite sophisticated, and financial instruments could be traded, discounted for cash, used as collateral for loans, etc.

Der Trihs 05-08-2016 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by furryman (Post 19315462)
I'm not sure if this is entirely true. In another thread about the longest running businesses they mentioned an inn outside of Tokyo that's been there since the city was called Edo. So at least the concept of travel and inns has been around for at least that long if not longer.

The concept of an obligation to show hospitality to travelers goes back thousands of years ago, such as the ancient Greek custom of xenia.

Or consider this fairly well known line from the Bible:

Quote:

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
The similarity to the ancient Greek belief in showing hospitality to strangers because they might be gods in disguise is pretty obvious.

Hail Ants 05-08-2016 08:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Melbourne (Post 19314847)
You carry it. Personally. On your person. Your person is guarded by guards if necessary.

Remember too that way back when this is why the penalty for robbery or attempted robbery was usually death (in various gruesome ways), to make it safer for those who had it to travel with it.

Kamino Neko 05-08-2016 09:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by furryman (Post 19315462)
they mentioned an inn outside of Tokyo that's been there since the city was called Edo.

That's severely underselling the age of the oldest operating hotels in Japan, since it stopped being called Edo in the mid-19th century.

I don't know about the Tokyo area, specifically, but the oldest still-extant hotels in Japan are from the 8th century, more than 700 years before Edo Castle was even built. (The oldest still-operating hotel in Europe (Germany, specifically) also predates Edo, though it's much younger than the Japanese hotels, 'only' dating to the 12th century.)

msmith537 05-09-2016 06:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Der Trihs (Post 19315676)
The concept of an obligation to show hospitality to travelers goes back thousands of years ago, such as the ancient Greek custom of xenia.

The Warrior Princess?:D


Quote:

Originally Posted by GreenWyvern (Post 19315519)
Even in medieval times there were bankers, goldsmiths, and wealthy merchants who dealt with financial business.

Letters of credit, bills of exchange, and promissory notes were used.

By the 17th and 18th century the system was quite sophisticated, and financial instruments could be traded, discounted for cash, used as collateral for loans, etc.

That's what I figured. But I always wondered how it worked in practice. Like if I decided to extend my stay in Paris another month and need more cash, but my wealth is all tied up in Ireland. I can't just wire it, so I suppose I could get a note of credit from a local bank.

But how do they validate your identity? I can't imagine that they would know every lord and baron by sight.

TriPolar 05-09-2016 08:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 19315338)
Note that gold was not often used for shopping. Silver, in coins about the size of dimes, was the most common.

How much gold or silver was needed anyway? What could you buy that cost more than a single gold coin?

msmith537 05-09-2016 08:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TriPolar (Post 19317189)
How much gold or silver was needed anyway? What could you buy that cost more than a single gold coin?

How much did stuff cost anyway and what did people typically buy? On TV they make it look like everyone just hunted and slept in the dirt whenever they traveled between towns or tossed a coin to some chicken vendor in a bazaar.

Tom Tildrum 05-09-2016 10:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jtur88 (Post 19315096)
Letters of credit seemed to be nearly universal, even internationally for European travel. Apparently, creditors would rather assume the risk of a phony letter, than to turn away the clientele and impugn the integrity of a lucrative high roller.

Or rather, enough information existed to allow at least somewhat accurate pricing of the risks associated with the issuance of credit.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kamino Neko (Post 19316416)
That's severely underselling the age of the oldest operating hotels in Japan, since it stopped being called Edo in the mid-19th century.

I don't know about the Tokyo area, specifically, but the oldest still-extant hotels in Japan are from the 8th century, more than 700 years before Edo Castle was even built. (The oldest still-operating hotel in Europe (Germany, specifically) also predates Edo, though it's much younger than the Japanese hotels, 'only' dating to the 12th century.)

They renovated the bathrooms in 1795, though, and personally I think they lost some of that old-time charm.

Lumpy 05-09-2016 11:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TriPolar (Post 19317189)
How much gold or silver was needed anyway? What could you buy that cost more than a single gold coin?

Prices always subject to haggling of course, but presumably a well-bred and fully trained warhorse in the prime of its life was pretty expensive. Ditto a high quality sword or set of armor made by a respected master. Also, anything that had made its way to Europe all the way from eastern Asia, like spices or silk.

TriPolar 05-09-2016 11:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lumpy (Post 19317698)
Prices always subject to haggling of course, but presumably a well-bred and fully trained warhorse in the prime of its life was pretty expensive. Ditto a high quality sword or set of armor made by a respected master. Also, anything that had made its way to Europe all the way from eastern Asia, like spices or silk.

Warhorses and weaponry could be worked out somehow, armed men wouldn't have to worry so much about carrying a lot of gold with them. The traders though, that's an interesting aspect. Anyone traveling far with goods to trade must be expecting a decent return, and getting that money home without getting waylaid must have been difficult. I assume they'd need to be well armed to do it.

Speaking of gold coins I recall Rick on Pawn Stars saying the ridges we have on quarters are style going far back to prevent the shaving of silver and gold coins. You can easily tell if anyone tried to shave down the edges when there are ridges but a smooth edged coin could be cleanly shaved. I wonder if that's still a problem in the gold trade.

DrDeth 05-09-2016 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19317248)
How much did stuff cost anyway and what did people typically buy? On TV they make it look like everyone just hunted and slept in the dirt whenever they traveled between towns or tossed a coin to some chicken vendor in a bazaar.


http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/120D/Money.html

GiantRat 05-09-2016 12:21 PM

As Muffin mentioned, the Knights Templar played a role. They are largely credited with creating the early version of our modern banking system. Think of it as the first ATM system. They are also believed by many to be the founders of Freemasonry (there's too much in the story to post, but you have google).

Essentially, pilgrims and crusaders going to the Holy Land were under constant attack - often robbed and/or slaughtered. So, to minimize risk, you could stop in at the Templar spot in France (for example) and give them your money and receive a statement of credit. As you moved along the pilgrimage/crusade trail, you could withdraw money be visiting other Templar locations and giving them your chit. Another would be drafted to reflect your standing balance (with an "ATM fee" associated). The Templars amassed such a vast fortune in currency and land that practically all of the potentates in Europe (including the Vatican) were in their debt, so they were same Church that created them excommunicated them and allowed Phillip the Fair of France to launch an inquisition against them.

An interesting source by a vetted historian is "Born in Blood."

TriPolar 05-09-2016 12:22 PM

Damnit! I knew 6 pence was too much for that axe.

Sleel 05-09-2016 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19314395)
Specifically, say I'm a wealthy lord traveling with my lady and a small entourage to some other country for an indefinite stay. What do I do for cash while travelling? Do I bring a big chest full of gold coins or whatever to use for purchasing stuff? What happens when I run out of local cash or am robbed? Did they have "credit" until I can send for another shipment of gold? Where do I store my gold securely?

The concepts of banking, loans, debts, reparations, etc. goes back to literally the oldest writing we have. There were Sumerian accounting tablets that look a lot like a cuneiform version of a spreadsheet. There were laws that we know of governing debts, interest limits, and punishments for non-payment. In fact, the oldest written laws we know of explicitly set rates of exchange and reparations for various crimes. Coinage obviously goes back even farther than formal accounting.

I don't know a lot about details for specific places, but with those ancient city-states (Sumer up to pre-Roman Greece) banking was usually tied up with the temples, as was literacy and numeracy to some extent. Within the territory, instruments that functioned a lot like letters of credit or bills of exchange were honored. Often you would have to become a citizen of the city-state to be able to use any of the banking/temple services, though. Extra-territorial travel was typically via caravan, with strongboxes, guards, etc. There was trade between city-states, so it wasn't impossible to have financial instruments in lieu of cash or goods in other places, but just like now, you'd have to make an initial deposit.

Transactions along the way from one city to another would probably be cash, trade, or barter. You might be able to convince some people to take the equivalent of an IOU, but I'm pretty sure you'd have to have recognizable status to make that work. Coinage had variable rates of exchange based on lots of different factors, including of course the person's faith in the legitimacy of the coin. State debasement could destroy that faith. Like with any medium of exchange that has inherent value, there were also unofficial methods of tampering with coins.

Commodities were the basis for the majority of the pre-modern banking systems. You deposited grain, you got cash or financial instruments in exchange. This had the benefit for the state of concentrating food within cities, under the control and protection of the ruler and military in fortified buildings with big-assed walls around it. It's a good bet that the relationship between the banks and farmers were every bit as contentious then as they are now.

For example, in most of the pre-Meiji history of Japan, income from territory was measured in koku 石 (about 150kg of rice) which was supposed to be a year's supply for one person. The money was basically a token for how much rice was on deposit. Retainers (samurai 侍) were either paid directly in rice or received a salary which could in theory be exchanged for the rice if needed. While the coins themselves were made of the typical metals (copper or tin alloys, silver, gold) they were actually backed by the commodities they represented and so functioned more as tokens in some ways rather than having intrinsic value. Historical gold coins (ryō 両) were considered equal in value to 1 koku, though the actual value might fluctuate a bit according to crop yeilds.

What's kind of interesting is how little banking has changed from ancient times to now. US Silver Certificates were honored until the 1960s; you could exchange paper for coins or bullion (looked the actual date up: 1968!) There might even be other financial instruments I'm unfamiliar with that can be directly exchanged for the actual goods they represent.

While there were fairly strong guest customs in many places, it was very culturally-dependent, and so not something I think anyone would have actually counted on in traveling. In the ancient world in particular, you could encounter several different cultures in a trip from one city-state to another, and some of them might be hostile to your own. The biblical good Samaritan parable was a parable about how you should help even your enemies, but it was a pretty provocative story. Samaritans and Jews despised each other, and Jesus was shown as relating it to a group of Jews. Couching it in more modern terms, you could re-cast it as the story of how a former slave helped a Klansman he found beaten and lying in a ditch, as told to a group of white people; that's how anti-establishment this dude was.

Within more inter-connected medieval societies, monetary systems were already well established and had been for hundreds or thousands of years, depending on when and where you're talking about. There was little to no need to rely on guest rights or customs.

Melbourne 05-09-2016 08:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19316966)
The Warrior Princess?:D
That's what I figured. But I always wondered how it worked in practice. Like if I decided to extend my stay in Paris another month and need more cash, but my wealth is all tied up in Ireland. I can't just wire it, so I suppose I could get a note of credit from a local bank.

But how do they validate your identity? I can't imagine that they would know every lord and baron by sight.

You could pawn your jewelry -- one of the reasons for carrying around expensive jewelry -- or you could wait for someone you know to turn up and pay your bill, or you could write home and get them to send credit/money.

Nava 05-10-2016 04:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sleel (Post 19319109)
I don't know a lot about details for specific places, but with those ancient city-states (Sumer up to pre-Roman Greece) banking was usually tied up with the temples, as was literacy and numeracy to some extent.

Rome as well, the mint was at the temple of Juno Moneta.

Does anybody know if The Travels of Benjamin goes into details about how he handled money? The prices I find for that book are on the painful side, sadly, but that may be my local market.

Kobal2 05-10-2016 05:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by robert_columbia (Post 19314424)
If you were a member of the nobility, you presumably had social connections with nobility in relatively far-off places who could vouch for you, or at least put you up for the night. In other words, any noble eager for good brownie points would do a favor for a fellow in need. If you were just some rich nobody who found a stash of treasure, or had slowly gained your fortune trading, you were much more of a social nobody. That's why wealthy people sought connections - it was a mutual protection network.

That's how money worked for the longest time, even for commoners - reputation was everything. Barring actual letters of credit and suchlike (which were popularized around the time of the First Crusade because pilgrims getting robbed for their Jerusalem money got very old), you would ask a known money-having person to send letters ahead of you saying "I, Mr. Moneybags, can vouch that this guy is good for X ducats, so you can give him as much and I'll repay you later 'cause he'll repay me later". Then such I.O.Us could, in turn, be traded between folks - you do a favour for me, I pay Mr. Moneybags on your behalf. Or I pay somebody Mr. Moneybags owes moolah to and he'll hear about it. With any number of such intermediaries as necessary or practical.

Needless to say it must have been quite complicated to keep track of who owed what to whom in practice. Credit cards are much simpler :D.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GiantRat
The Templars amassed such a vast fortune in currency and land that practically all of the potentates in Europe (including the Vatican) were in their debt, so they were same Church that created them excommunicated them and allowed Phillip the Fair of France to launch an inquisition against them.

An interesting source by a vetted historian is "Born in Blood."

Other way around. Phillip IV needed a spot of cash on short notice and figured he could mess with the Templars on trumped up charges. He happened to have the Pope in his pocket (the new Pope was the first French pope and unabashedly pro-French) so getting permission was a formality. In fact, he didn't even ask the Pope - he just arrested them en masse as soon as Clement V was elected, and the latter was kinda forced to follow suit or be seen as a non-entity... and not profit from the trials, either :p

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537
But how do they validate your identity? I can't imagine that they would know every lord and baron by sight.

Well if you're anybody worth anything, you'll have respectable contacts in Paris who can say you are who you say you are. That or you'll bear insignias proving your identity (seals, official papers and so on).

And if you don't have either ID or backers, well, you, sir... are a Vagabond, a lout of the basest sort and I'll have my manservants give you a good thrashing at once ! And be thankful you are not hanged for your idleness, miscreant !

(but note that, again, it wasn't solely a nobles, burghers and aristocrat thing. Every layer of society had its own criteria for "respectable" or "trustworthy". A penniless Huguenot refugee who knew a respected rat-catcher or was the second cousin of a reliable fishmonger could expect some credit at the local fleabitten inn for example.)

rbroome 05-10-2016 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RivkahChaya (Post 19314787)
There also used to be an expectation that if someone who was traveling, of whatever social status, knocked on your door, and needed something, you helped them to the extent you could, and knew that if you eve had to travel somewhere, people would do the same for you. This was true whatever the social status of you or the traveler, which the exception that if you were extremely wealthy or well-placed, and a peasant came by, he'd knock on the servants' door. Servants' lives were hard, but they were at least usually well-fed and warm, and could share. this was the way of the world through Europe and the European colonies through about 1820.

The railway system made traveling a whole different game. Customs changed, and cheap hotels outside big cities sprung up around railway hubs.

Still, I remember even when I was a little kid and I had relatives who lived in places where houses were spaced widely along a road, someone might stop by and ask to use the phone, and they'd be let in and allowed to do so as long as it wasn't long distance-- or if it was, they'd call the operator and ask the charge, and hand over cash, and if the person needed to use the phone because they had a car break down, say, they'd be offered food, and allowed to sit in a warm safe home until help arrived.

I am not a historian, but it seems that this practice lasted quite late. I remember reading "The Kings Speech" about Mr. Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia who came to England to help out the new King in the late 1920s. the Logue family traveled through the US on the way to England and made arrangements to stay with a series of people in the US of a similar class. That is, they didn't know them, but they had letters of introduction from people in Australia that did know them. Apparently this form of travel was the norm. One decided where one was going, found a friend able to write a letter to a friend at the destination, and off you went. Friend by friend. Presumably, you reciprocated when someone showed up at your door with a letter from one of your friends. And I assume that letters were sent in advance to help. So traveling with letters of recommendation and with letters of credit from your local bank lasted quite late in history.

even sven 05-10-2016 10:58 PM

How did they deal with money back in the old days?
 
Nm

even sven 05-10-2016 11:14 PM

The memoirs of European explorer Heinrich Barth are some of my favorite things to read, and it's fascinating how he deals with money along his journeys into remote (to him, at least) areas of Africa.

He had planned to have quite a bit of funding for his travels, and to meet up with new travel companions fresh from Europe who could replenish his funds along the way. This didn't work out well as people bailed or just didn't make their planned connection, and he didn't end up with the cash he was expecting.

The other plan was to start with a stash of trade goods, and barter with them along the way, hopefully turning enough of a profit to keep going. This also didn't work out particularly well, particularly since he'd be expected to present gifts and "gifts" to people he met along the way, both friendly and hostile.

His final tool, and the one he had to rely on most often, was to hopscotch between friendly kingdoms, using letters of recommendation or escorts from the previous kingdom to secure safe passage and basic hospitality in the next. It was precarious, as he ended up square in the middle of local political situations that he didn't have enough context for to understand, not every kingdom could or would present a clear path forward, and sometimes patience for uninvited guests wore thin. There were times he found himself destitute and surrounded by people who wanted him to leave. But it mostly worked.

Nava 05-11-2016 12:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbroome (Post 19321984)
I am not a historian, but it seems that this practice lasted quite late. I remember reading "The Kings Speech" about Mr. Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia who came to England to help out the new King in the late 1920s. the Logue family traveled through the US on the way to England and made arrangements to stay with a series of people in the US of a similar class. That is, they didn't know them, but they had letters of introduction from people in Australia that did know them. Apparently this form of travel was the norm. One decided where one was going, found a friend able to write a letter to a friend at the destination, and off you went. Friend by friend.

It's still done by immigrants, more from more traditional societies but I've had people giving me the contact information for their relative who was "close" (by different definitions of "close") to where I was going. I never stayed with them but I did contact them for information about the area, where to look for housing, etc. My brother Jay has stayed at friend's houses and friends' of friends' houses while on vacation, started by someone who heard they were thinking of visiting the area where she lives and exclaimed "don't you dare stay in a hotel!" Ma'am, yes ma'am... (thee shalt not offend a Basque woman's hospitality). The brother of a Mexican coworker of mine had just gotten married in the area where we worked (the sister was there temporarily): when his in-laws heard she was staying in a hotel they promptly hooked her up with three possible shared homes to choose from; I had to explain that yes, they meant it and would in fact be terribly offended if she refused (thee shalt definitely not offend the hospitality of multiple Basque women).

jenstar 05-11-2016 01:37 AM

The threat of having your head severed from your body if you didn't honour the agreement would probably be enough to make you think twice about ripping somebody off, especially if they were or new people in high places. A little different to moving address and dodging the bailiffs like in today's world.

Consequences 05-11-2016 06:36 AM

It will be interesting to see in GoT how the IBoB deals with the TON of debt that the Lannisters owe it and can't pay back..

It makes me wonder given the Faceless and what is going on with Arya Stark and her list of which includes several Lannisters...

Blue Blistering Barnacle 05-11-2016 10:03 AM

In "A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century" by Barbara Tuchman

( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Distant_Mirror )

the author often describe the riches in material goods which would be sent off with nobles on their foreign military adventures. The valuable plates and silverware, etc was usually pawned when the expedition "hit the rocks", as it almost always did. IIRC she expressed the opinion that this was in fact a secondary purpose for hauling this stuff along.

Bryan Ekers 05-11-2016 09:20 PM

Diner's Club.


You eat at an inn and when they ask for payment, club them.

Noel Prosequi 05-13-2016 04:46 AM

The letter of introduction still exists in some circles. There is still a network of gentleman's clubs around the world where people from a club in London can stay in a reciprocal New York club, say. In order to prove you are who you say you are, there is often a requirement of the home club to provide a letter of introduction. Of course the accommodation in the foreign club is not free. The letter just serves to demonstrate that you are currently in good stead with the home club (ie, not a deadbeat who will run out on the bill), and as a further check to demonstrate you have not forged or stolen your ID. If you have forged or stolen the ID of a member, you still won't be able to get the necessary letter.

Bones Daley 05-13-2016 07:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mk VII (Post 19315479)
The goldsmiths were among the earliest bankers in Europe, although they would not have recognised the term. They even lent money to the king.
In many countries the Jews were prominent in this profession (there weren't many others they were allowed to follow)

Was it not more a case of Christians being forbidden to lend money and charge interest?

"Put not thy coin to usury" and all that ...

Lumpy 05-13-2016 05:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers (Post 19324459)
Diner's Club: You eat at an inn and when they ask for payment, club them.

Sounds like Hagar the Horrible. :p

Lumpy 05-13-2016 05:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Noel Prosequi (Post 19327631)
The letter of introduction still exists in some circles. There is still a network of gentleman's clubs around the world where people from a club in London can stay in a reciprocal New York club, say. In order to prove you are who you say you are, there is often a requirement of the home club to provide a letter of introduction. Of course the accommodation in the foreign club is not free. The letter just serves to demonstrate that you are currently in good stead with the home club (ie, not a deadbeat who will run out on the bill), and as a further check to demonstrate you have not forged or stolen your ID. If you have forged or stolen the ID of a member, you still won't be able to get the necessary letter.

And when you ask for the number of the friendliest escort services in town, they know you're not an undercover from the Vice Squad.

Noel Prosequi 05-20-2016 02:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lumpy (Post 19329348)
And when you ask for the number of the friendliest escort services in town, they know you're not an undercover from the Vice Squad.

Lumpy you fool! If you give that information away, they will cancel your membership at Boodle's! And if the Special Forces Club hears of it, you will be pink mist! Some restraint old fellow!

msmith537 05-20-2016 07:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbroome (Post 19321984)
I am not a historian, but it seems that this practice lasted quite late. I remember reading "The Kings Speech" about Mr. Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia who came to England to help out the new King in the late 1920s. the Logue family traveled through the US on the way to England and made arrangements to stay with a series of people in the US of a similar class. That is, they didn't know them, but they had letters of introduction from people in Australia that did know them. Apparently this form of travel was the norm. One decided where one was going, found a friend able to write a letter to a friend at the destination, and off you went. Friend by friend. Presumably, you reciprocated when someone showed up at your door with a letter from one of your friends. And I assume that letters were sent in advance to help. So traveling with letters of recommendation and with letters of credit from your local bank lasted quite late in history.

Kind of like AirBnB.

md2000 05-20-2016 08:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blue Blistering Barnacle (Post 19322777)
In "A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century" by Barbara Tuchman

( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Distant_Mirror )

the author often describe the riches in material goods which would be sent off with nobles on their foreign military adventures. The valuable plates and silverware, etc was usually pawned when the expedition "hit the rocks", as it almost always did. IIRC she expressed the opinion that this was in fact a secondary purpose for hauling this stuff along.

An excellent book!

I also had the chance to listen to a lecture by L. E. Modessit, a fantasy writer with an economist background. Basically he said that most writers (Game of Thones?) did not consider this problem, everyone seemed to travel with an unlimited American Express card. The problem was, unless you had connections in the distant land, (letters of credit and all that) you had to carry a large bag of coin or similar valuables . This made you a prime target for robbery - so you needed to take a company of knights with you... which meant you had to feed all them, too - so you needed an even bigger chest of coins and valuables -and a cart hauling food, clothes, supplies, and the chest of money. Basically, anyone of any importance needed to travel with a large retinue and a large amount of valuables. Travel was rare and difficult.

Once you got to the next foreign capital, if you had connections (your neighbour lord's daughter had married viscount de Whatever's son) they put you up. but, the road was dangerous, and despite medieval fantasy to the contrary, very few major voyages were done in a day or three.

Robin Hood made a convenient living off of passing lords, usually by outnumbering their entourage.

Or, like the Canterbury pilgrims, the poorer people travelled in packs. The only question was, could you trust your fellow travellers? And were there enough able young men to fight off the robber gangs? Remember too, that medieval fantasies aside, most inns were communal events. Only the rich got their own room (which again marked you as a target - you have money), usually everyone bunked down in one of the main rooms; better sleep on top of your purse.

TriPolar 05-20-2016 08:17 AM

I suppose if you were a known person with a title or just upper enough in class you could get by on your name locally.

Fretful Porpentine 05-20-2016 08:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbroome (Post 19321984)
I am not a historian, but it seems that this practice lasted quite late. I remember reading "The Kings Speech" about Mr. Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia who came to England to help out the new King in the late 1920s. the Logue family traveled through the US on the way to England and made arrangements to stay with a series of people in the US of a similar class. That is, they didn't know them, but they had letters of introduction from people in Australia that did know them. Apparently this form of travel was the norm. One decided where one was going, found a friend able to write a letter to a friend at the destination, and off you went. Friend by friend. Presumably, you reciprocated when someone showed up at your door with a letter from one of your friends. And I assume that letters were sent in advance to help. So traveling with letters of recommendation and with letters of credit from your local bank lasted quite late in history.

There's also a delightful series of travel memoirs by Patrick Leigh Fermor, who traveled from Rotterdam to Istanbul in the 1930s, mostly on foot. He camped out a lot of the time, and spent a few nights in youth hostels and the like, but mostly he got himself invited to stay with people -- very often minor nobility, who would invite him into their castle and then send off letters to friends at his next destination. Once he befriended his first central European baron, he was in with all of the others.

It obviously helped that he was a personable, attractive young man, and that he knew how to send off the right social class signals even when he was tramping across the continent with only a single change of clothes.

XT 05-20-2016 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msmith537 (Post 19314395)
The thought crossed my mind while watching shows like Outlander or Game of Thrones but the scenario could apply to any time period before the invention of wire transfers, ATMs, or even electricity.

Specifically, say I'm a wealthy lord traveling with my lady and a small entourage to some other country for an indefinite stay. What do I do for cash while travelling? Do I bring a big chest full of gold coins or whatever to use for purchasing stuff? What happens when I run out of local cash or am robbed? Did they have "credit" until I can send for another shipment of gold? Where do I store my gold securely?

International banking systems actually stemmed from rich guys trying to solve this very problem. IIRC, the Knights Templar made their mark by developing just such a system. Basically, if you were going to the holy land you'd swing by one of the Knights 'banks' and, in exchange for your gold they would give you part of a coded receipt for the amount of gold you were wanting to take with you (less some service fees. Not interest though :p). Then you could basically head out to the holy land, stopping by Knight facilities along the way, where they would deduct some fees for services along the way. When you got to the holy land you could then change what was left on your coded receipt for the remainder of the money and be good to go. When you wanted to go back, same thing.

I know there were other civilizations and times that used similar systems. You COULD take a large guard force and just carry the gold, and that happened a lot, but there were alternatives at various times in history that were similar to my recollection above of roughly how the KT did it.

md2000 05-20-2016 10:36 AM

Also remember that a lot of travel in the middle ages was done by ship - you bypassed the robber class, and were surrounded by several dozen able-bodied seamen with a vested interest in protecting you and them from pirates... your value as a slave or hostage, plus the value of the boat you were travelling on and its cargo, probably exceeded the value of any valuables the vessel carried.

Lumpy 05-20-2016 10:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by XT (Post 19344908)
International banking systems actually stemmed from rich guys trying to solve this very problem. IIRC, the Knights Templar made their mark by developing just such a system. Basically, if you were going to the holy land you'd swing by one of the Knights 'banks' and, in exchange for your gold they would give you part of a coded receipt for the amount of gold you were wanting to take with you (less some service fees. Not interest though :p). Then you could basically head out to the holy land, stopping by Knight facilities along the way, where they would deduct some fees for services along the way. When you got to the holy land you could then change what was left on your coded receipt for the remainder of the money and be good to go. When you wanted to go back, same thing.

I know there were other civilizations and times that used similar systems. You COULD take a large guard force and just carry the gold, and that happened a lot, but there were alternatives at various times in history that were similar to my recollection above of roughly how the KT did it.

Of course that puts the burden of transferring gold around on the Templars, unless the traffic both ways averaged the same.

Quote:

Originally Posted by md2000 (Post 19345137)
Also remember that a lot of travel in the middle ages was done by ship - you bypassed the robber class, and were surrounded by several dozen able-bodied seamen with a vested interest in protecting you and them from pirates... your value as a slave or hostage, plus the value of the boat you were travelling on and its cargo, probably exceeded the value of any valuables the vessel carried.

Provided you could be reasonably sure the captain and crew of your own boat weren't pirates/slavers- which for enough money they might be tempted to do it just this once...


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