Merchants and Landowners’ Responses to Economic Ethics
In Chapters 2, 3, and 4, I presented evidence which showed that ethical notions such as the just price, the common good, good lordship, justice and charity were disseminated, debated and problematised amongst medieval readers and listeners through a wide range of texts, such as pastoral manuals and guides to conscience, sermons and literary works. Chapter 5 showed that such notions reappeared in the framing of petitions and in economic regulation, and Chapter 6 looked at the evidence of landowner attitudes in manor court records and other sources. A question that remains is to what extent individuals were influenced by these notions in their understanding of economic ethics and applied them in their actual economic practices. In particular, were the more prosperous, whether merchants or landowners, influenced by the teachings of the Church concerning excess wealth and avarice? Were there, perhaps, other notions which were more influential in the way they managed their affairs? Were there circumstances in which these overrode the principles of economic ethics? Correspondence and other documents can reveal how economic ethics were perceived and applied in practice.