Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1275-1294 - Lombard Street (City of London)

By the thirteenth century, English monarchs were hampered by the failure of traditional revenues to meet their ever increasing expenses. Edward I imposed duties on wool and leather and increased direct taxes, but did not solve the problem of liquidity.

Consequently, he had to find other means of raising cash. Nearby Lombard Street offered a solution. He called for merchant-bankers of the Societas Riccardorum de Luka [Ricciardi of Lucca] for support. In 1274, the Pope had levied a tax on the clergy across Europe to support a new crusade. Ricciardi acted as papal bankers and were responsible for holding a substantial portion of contributions collected in England. From 1275, Ricciardi collected the customs duty on exports of wool as well as receiving money from other sources of Royal revenue. In return, they advanced significant sums in cash to the King.

It all went wrong in the early 1290s. With the Pope gradually calling in papal tax returns in preparation of a new Crusade and the outbreak of the Anglo-French war in 1294, Italian merchant-banks suffered a severe crisis of liquidity. Ricciardi was unable to provide Edward with the financial support that he demanded. The latter removed the house from its position as collectors of wool custom and ordered the seizure of all assets. Five years later he entered into a financial relationship with the Florentine house of Frescobaldi.

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