Matthew of Paris:
The Usury of the Cahorsins, 1235
The Caursines (or Cahorsins) derived their name from the city of Cahors but
the term is usually applied to money-lenders. The real Caursines were capitalist Christian
bankers whose clients were the rich and powerful in society. In England their unpopularity
was due to their officiating as papal brokers, and to the heavy rates of interest they
In these days prevailed the horrible nuisance of the Caursines, to such a degree that
there was hardly any one in all England, especially among the bishops, who was not caught
in their net. Even the king himself was held indebted to them in an incalculable sum of
money. For they circumvented the needy in their necessities, cloaking their usury under
the show of trade, and pretending not to know that whatever is added to the principal is
usury, under whatever name it may be called....
From: Matthew of Paris, English History, trans. J. A. Giles, (London: H. G.
Bohn, 1849), Vol. I, p.2; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A
Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936;
reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 179-180.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998