The term financial revolution has been abused in the literature. Revolution connotes a sharp and unique break from the past that should stand up to careful historical scrutiny, but in fact it does not. Evolution describes financial history better than revolutions. We compare the classic financial revolutions with the financial innovations of Genoa, Venice and Florence in the Quattrocento and Cinquecento and the upshot is that these Italian city-states the two maritime cities more than Florence had developed many of the features that were to be found later on in the Netherlands, England and the United States. The importance of the early financial innovators has been eclipsed by the fact that these city-states did not survive politically. Instead, the innovations were absorbed in the long chain of financial evolution and, in the process, lost the identity of their creators.
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