Asientos as Sinews of War in the Composite Superpower of the 16th Century Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2021

start page

  • 703

end page

  • 722


  • 4


  • 25

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1361-4916

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1474-0044


  • The full analysis of the text of a contract, asiento, between Philip II of Spain and a Genoese merchant-banker details how in this pre-modern composite state, merchant-bankers acted as agents of the Crown who gathered many scattered sources of income to the Crown and transformed them into large and regular cash flows, mesadas, for the army. Because of the uncertain availability of these sources, the contract provided flexibility to both parties and legal assistance to the banker who reported to accountants for audit and, if necessary, the charge of an interest at about 1 percent per month.