This paper discusses the uses and functions of hereditary leases (roughly speaking: copyhold possession of urban real estate whereby a personal dependency of the lessee to the lessor was established), especially in Strasbourg and Würzburg. It also examines the annuity markets (annuities
are defined as hypothecary credit based on freehold urban real estate, without any personal bonds between the seller and the buyer) of several cities of the German Hanse, particularly Hamburg, in the Late Middle Ages. At the same time, it attempts to refute G. Signori's critique of the basic
premises of an extended research project on these annuity markets initiated by R. Sprandel in the late 1960s. The paper emphasizes the legal basis of annuities (freehold possession of land), the streamlined formalities of buying and selling annuities, and the sheer number of annuity contracts
in Hamburg and other Hanse cities. This means they can be regarded as both true commercial credit instruments and as reliable indicators of economic cycles.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 2019
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Founded in 1903, Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte is the oldest German periodical of social and economic history. The international, peer-reviewed journal features original articles in German, English, French and Italian.
Today, VSWG is edited by Günther Schulz, Jörg Baten, Markus A. Denzel, Gerhard Fouquet and Hans Pohl and deals with all aspects of social history, social developments from the Middle Ages to today, as well as history of finance and economic history.
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