Self-Enforcing, Public-Order Institutions for Contract Enforcement: Litigation, Regulation, and Limited Government in Venice, 1050–1350

  • Yadira González de LaraEmail author


The spectacular economic growth of Venice during the late medieval period (1050–1350) was based on the expansion of its trade along the Mediterranean and beyond. Crucial to this expansion was the mobilization of large amounts of capital into risky investments. However, this mobilization required the development of institutions that protected creditors and shareholders from expropriation by controlling merchants. This chapter finds that legal and administrative institutions conjointly provided investor protection and explores the interactions between these public-order institutions for contract enforcement and the emergence of a limited government, a coercion-constraining institution that motivated judges and regulators to use their coercive power for protecting rather than abusing investor rights.


Thirteenth Century Coercive Power Economic Rent Contract Enforcement Legal Sanction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



My deepest debt of gratitude goes to Avner Greif and Gavin Wright for their suggestions, encouragement, and support. I have also benefit from many stimulating comments of various participants at the International Conference on the Political Economy of Democratic Institutions, Baiona, Spain, June 14–16, 2010. Funding for this research was made possible by the Generalitat Valenciana (GV PROMETEO/2008/106) and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology with FEDER Funds (SEJ2007-62656/ECON). Very special thanks are due to Andrea Drago for his patience. The usual caveats apply.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad CEU-Cardenal HerreraElcheSpain
  2. 2.Universidad de ValenciaValenciaSpain

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