A rare accounting document, half-concealed beneath a coat of arms design, has revealed the activities of Italian bankers working in early 15th century London, decades before the capital became a financial powerhouse. The discovery was made by economic historians at Queen Mary, University of London.
Among the pages of a bound collection of traditional English crests held at the London College of Arms – the headquarters of British heraldry – are several papers belonging to a book of debtors and creditors for Florentine merchant-banking company, Domenicio Villani & Partners.
The coats of arms are estimated to have been painted in 1480, during a time when good quality paper was scarce and anything that was available was re-used.
The banking records, only half-covered by the design, date from 1422-24 and hint at the extensive trade in wool and other commodities produced in Britain during the era.
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