© 2018

Money, Commerce, and Economics in Late Medieval English Literature

  • Craig E. Bertolet
  • Robert Epstein
  • Elucidates the complexity of economic thought animating medieval cultural production

  • Applies modern and emerging economic theories to medieval texts

  • Analyzes the specific economic and social conditions of late-medieval England


Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

About this book


This is the first collection of essays dedicated to the topics of money and economics in the English literature of the late Middle Ages. These essays explore ways that late medieval economic thought informs contemporary English texts and apply modern modes of economic analysis to medieval literature. In so doing, they read the importance and influence of historical records of practices as aids to contextualizing these texts. They also apply recent modes of economic history as a means to understand the questions the texts ask about economics, trade, and money. Collectively, these papers argue that both medieval and modern economic thought are key to valuable historical contextualization of medieval literary texts, but that this criticism can be advanced only if we also recognize the specificity of the economic and social conditions of late-medieval England.


late medieval economics modern economics in medieval context Marxist historiography of the medieval period commercial economy of 14th-century England gift-exchange in medieval England economics of salvation in Medieval literature Judas in medieval drama and poetry Merchant of Venice The Southern Passion Medieval devotional literature and economics Wynnere and Wastoure economics and medieval collectivism medieval antimercantilism Dives and Pauper Franciscan theology and social inequity social strata in 14th century England Piers Plowman Karl Polanyi the medieval free-market economics in Chaucer

Editors and affiliations

  • Craig E. Bertolet
    • 1
  • Robert Epstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Auburn UniversityAuburn, ALUSA
  2. 2.Fairfield UniversityFairfield, CTUSA

About the editors

Craig E. Bertolet is Professor of Medieval English Literature at Auburn University, USA. He is the author of Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve, and the Commercial Practices of Late Fourteenth-Century London (2013) and articles and book chapters on the intersection between medieval culture and its literature. He is at work on a book concerning the crisis of money in late medieval English literature.

Robert Epstein is Professor of English at Fairfield University, USA. He is the author of Chaucer’s Gifts: Exchange and Value in the Canterbury Tales (forthcoming). 

Bibliographic information


“This collection of rather short articles succeeds in revealing the increasing seriousness with which literary scholars of the late medieval period approach the socio-economic contexts in which their literature is produced. At the same time, it reveals their continuing success in excavating and bringing to light the myriad reflections of these contexts in the literature they study.” (Joel Kaye, The Medieval Review, May 20, 2020)

“This collection is a valuable survey of recent trends in economic approaches to Middle English literature, with contributions by a number of well-known scholars in the field as well as emerging voices. … Most importantly, in the imagination and theoretical boldness that its contributors bring to bear, the book suggests how to do this scholarship well.” (Walter Wadiak, The Review of English Studies, October 30, 2018)