combating their abuses. But it would be a manifest exaggeration to deduce from this the existence of even a rudimentary capitalistic economy. Everything indicates that the loans which we are considering here were only occasional loans, of usurious nature, to which people who had met with some catastrophe, such as war, a fire, or a poor harvest, were forced to have recourse temporarily.
Thus, the early centuries of the Middle Ages seem to have been completely ignorant of the power of capital. They abound in wealthy landed proprietors, in rich monasteries, and we come upon hundreds of sanctuaries the treasure of which, supplied by the generosity of the nobles or the offerings of the faithful, crowds the altar with ornaments of gold or of solid silver. A considerable fortune is accumulated in the Church, but it is an idle fortune. The revenues which the landowners collect from their serfs or from their tenants are directed toward no economic purpose. They are scattered in alms, in the building of mon