The earliest surviving cheque was drawn in 1365 by two Florentines to pay a draper for black cloth for a family funeral... In 1360 a banker in Barcelona was beheaded in front of his bank for failing to honour his clients’ accounts... In 1477 a confidence-trickster persuaded a citizen of Cologne to buy shares in a non-existent silver mine... From a thousand tiny facts like these, the fruit of nearly thirty years’ research in the municipal archives, commercial records, account books and letters of a dozen countries, Peter Spufford builds up a picture of the medieval business world that will be a revelation to the historian and a fascinating human story to the layman. Virtually every aspect of medieval society is illuminated by this wide-ranging and immensely detailed study. The illustrations have been chosen largely from unpublished material, and there are over a dozen specially drawn maps. Power and Profit is that rare phenomenon - an academic classic that can be read purely for pleasure.