The Florentine merchant-bank of Peruzzi came to prominence around 1275. Run by family members, it soon became one of Europe’s most efficient money houses with fifteen branches from the Middle East to London’s Lombard Street by 1335. Source of its wealth was the wool trade with Bruges at its centre. They expanded the business by shipping silks, drugs, spices, and luxuries from the East. Gradually their activities turned to banking. They became money lenders to royalty, aristocracy, and clergy. When Edward III became embroiled in an expensive war with France, he borrowed a vast amount of money (600,000 gold florins) from the Peruzzi family. With the war dragging on, the King repudiated his enormous debts to foreign bankers in 1343. Peruzzi was ruined and liquidated in 1345. The collapse of this and other Florentine banks was a major cause of a great depression that lasted beyond the 1340s.