The Fruits of Civilization (22-4) Medieval Europe continued 2


The capitalist system did not start with industrialization in 18th century England, but with the commercial and financial enterprises that were first most vibrant in Italy. In outlook and impact this early phase was as revolutionary as later industrial capitalism.

Early traders and financiers had the impulses and methods of capitalism: pursuit of profit so as to accumulate wealth, and long-distance operations from long-term planning. Contract and exchange replaced the status and servitude of early economic activity, as competition was condoned as the inevitable outcome of acquisitiveness.

Faith in rationality permeated economic pursuits which translated into market transactions infused with utilitarian business ethics. It was this early vibrant capitalist activity which led to the intellectual movement that launched the Renaissance in the 14th century.