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Community and the rise of commercial society: political economy and political theory in Nicholas Oresme's De Moneta

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Nicholas Oresme's mid-fourteenth-century treatise De moneta falls outside the conventional genres of late medieval scholastic writing: it is neither a commentary, a summa, nor a publicistic tract. Historians of political thought have largely shunned the work. Instead, De moneta has primarily been the object of attention among historians of economic thought. Despite the fact that De moneta certainly contains technical economic analysis of the nature of money in an Aristotelian mode, both the circumstances of its composition and the main lines of its argument suggest that it deserves treatment as a profoundly political work. Oresme's intention is clearly to advise his countrymen in a pragmatic fashion about a matter of public policy. His specialized economic analysis is merely a propedeutic to his main point. In this sense, the political theory contained in De moneta merits serious attention as an attempt to bring economic concerns to bear on the duties of rulers and the needs of their subjects.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept of Political Science, University of Arizona, 315 Social Sciences, PO Box 210027, Tucson, AZ 85721-0027, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 2000


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