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The testimony of the records of the loans

The protocols also contain records of the loans. In them, among others, the term of the anticipated repayment was listed, or the repayment calendar, often also a pledge. The interest rate for loaning the money was never given; many records were later crossed out, that is the loan was repaid.

We have analysed the protocols from 1435-1456 which contained a total of 779 declarations of debtors on the acceptance of the financial obligation. Of this number, only 36 (4.6%) concerned peasants, demonstrating their low level of involvement in the market with formal loans. We identified the peasants according to the predicate and then searched in the registers of the Eger land tax (Klosteuerbuch, 1435; 1438; 1441-1456).

The records of the loans show the reverse direction of the flow of economic resources than the records of the petitions. In 86% of the records, the peasant was the debtor and the burgher the creditor. Behind a total of 31 records of loans, there were 23 individual peasants because some peasants bound themselves to debts repeatedly. We most often encounter individual peasants (61%), the representation of a ‘society’ of the two peasants and a ‘society’ of a peasant with a burgher was approximately equal (17 and 22%). The Eger Jews predominate among the creditors (61%); the rest fall to burghers. A declaration where a peasant was the creditor of another peasant was not recorded even once.

Some studies point to the important role of millers in the rural credit market (Guzowski 2014, p. 134). In the analysed court protocols, millers only occurred twice among individual debtors. Rural millers did not appear among the creditors.

Regarding the social status of the peasants and the burghers in the year of the record of the declaration, we again relied on the testimony of the land tax registers, the city tax register of 1446 and the quintile analysis. The result of the analysis was not surprising (Figure 9.3). Only the richest peasants borrowed money through a formal credit market. The creditors also came from the ranks of the wealthiest burghers. Among the peasants we find tenants of‘subject’ farmsteads, in one case the holder of a ‘free’ farmstead.

The amount of the loan was not usually enormously high or extremely low (Figure 9.4). The minimal loan was 40 Prague groschen, the maximal 26 threescore Prague groschen. Most often, peasants borrowed amounts from one to three threescore Prague groschen and then from six to ten threescore Prague groschen. The loans to 6 threescore were repaid at once with exceptions; higher amounts were in half of the cases divided into two to four instalments. It follows that the rich peasants did not have a problem to suddenly get the amount of up to 6 threescore but higher amounts were already difficult to put together.

Loans were of a short-term nature. If the debt was repaid at once, the loan never exceeded one year, usually repaid within six months (Figure 9.5). Most of the debts paid in instalments were also paid within one year. The first instalment followed within six months of granting the loan. The longest loan was repaid in four instalments over two years.

Social status of the debtors in the Eger city state, 1435-1456 (loans)

Figure 9.3 Social status of the debtors in the Eger city state, 1435-1456 (loans).

Source: Klosteuerbuch, 1435; 1438; 1441-1456; Losungsbuch, 1446;Schuldprotokolle, 1429-1439; 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

Nominal amount of the loans of the peasants in the Eger city state. 1435-1456

Figure 9.4 Nominal amount of the loans of the peasants in the Eger city state. 1435-1456.

Source: Schuldprotokolle. 1429-1439; 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

One third of the records also stated the pledge that the debtor guaranteed to the creditor (eleven times). The mention of the pledge was more common with nominally higher debts. The peasants secured the loans with non-farmstead plots (five times) or all the property (four times), less already the farmstead (once) or a house in the city (once).

Length of the repayment of peasant loans. Source

Figure 9.5 Length of the repayment of peasant loans. Source: Schuldprotokolle, 1429-1439; 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

We do not know the precise purpose of any of the loans but we can estimate thanks to the price relation. The most frequent amount of 1-3 threescore Prague groschen corresponds in price of one horse, several cows or one ‘Morgen’ of a non-farmstead field (ca 0.57 ha). Loans falling into the second most frequent interval of 6-12 threescore corresponded to the prices of all of the livestock animals on an average farmstead, two ‘Morgen’ of non-farm meadows or four ‘Morgen’ of fields, or half the amount for which it was possible to acquire the tenure right to a good ‘subject’ farmstead.

An important testimony is borne by the ratio of the borrowed amount to the total value of the debtor’s assets, respectively its ratio to the land tax (Figures 9.6 and 9.7). In 72% of the cases, the loan was less than a tenth of the total value of the property; more than a quarter of the value of the property in 17% of the cases. In 61% of the cases, the amount of the loan was up to four times the amount of tax paid each year. The loan surpassed ten times the annual land tax amount in 22% of the cases.

To sum up, the short repayment period, the relatively low amount of the loaned amounts, its ratio to the annual land tax, and the total value of the property suggest that mainly seasonal bridging loans or investment loans in non-farm plots were entered in the court protocols.

The flow of capital from the countryside to the city is also documented. The court protocols from 1435-1456 contain five records in which peasants lent cash to the Eger burghers. The analysis of their social status showed a fact that was not surprising - the creditors were rich peasants and, on the contrary, the debtors were poor burghers (Figure 9.3). The amount of the loans was in the range of the cash that the peasants could obtain on a one-off basis (two to seven threescore Prague groschen). Peasants in the role

Ratio of the nominal amount of the loan and the total amount of the peasant's property in the Eger city state, 1435-1456

Figure 9.6 Ratio of the nominal amount of the loan and the total amount of the peasant's property in the Eger city state, 1435-1456.

Source: Schuldprotokolle, 1429-1439; 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

Ratio of the nominal amount of the loan and the land tax in the Eger city state. 1435-1456

Figure 9.7 Ratio of the nominal amount of the loan and the land tax in the Eger city state. 1435-1456.

Source: Schuldprotokolle. 1429-1439; 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

of creditors illustrate the close interaction of the rural and urban economy as well as financial entrepreneurship. We assume that the peasant-creditors were among the rural elite, as its basic characteristics were precisely plural economic activities and income diversity (e.g. Cechura 1994, p. 115; Aparisi 2015, pp. 337-9,352).

Geographical aspects

Sales on credit and loans had different spatial reach. In the first case, the credit area was equal to the local market area of the city of Eger, with the perimeter ranging between 12 and 18 km (Figure 9.8). The spatial reach of loans was

The origin of the creditors from outside of the city of Eger who sued Eger burghers (1442-1456). Predominantly sale on credit

Figure 9.8 The origin of the creditors from outside of the city of Eger who sued Eger burghers (1442-1456). Predominantly sale on credit.

Source: Schuldprotokolle, 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

The origin of the rural debtors and creditors (1435-1456)

Figure 9.9 The origin of the rural debtors and creditors (1435-1456).

Source: Schuldprotokolle, 1429-1439; 1439-1452; 1452-1470.

smaller, reaching 6-8 km from the city of Eger and overlapping with the most fertile and commercialized zone, interwoven with dense information, social and economic networks linking the richest peasants to the city (Figure 9.9).

 
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