The Origins of Corporations The Mills of Toulouse in the Middle Ages Germain Sicard, Matthew Landry, William N. Goetzmann

Publication date:
11 Jun 2015
Yale University Press
520 pages: 235 x 156 x 33mm
9 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


Fully modern corporations appeared in fourteenth-century Toulouse, much earlier than previously believed

Germain Sicard proves that Europe’s first corporations were fourteenth-century mill companies operating in Toulouse, rather than seventeenth-century English and Dutch trading companies as commonly believed. He shows that the corporate form derives from a unique ownership contract from Medieval Europe called pariage, and a culture of strong property rights and municipal self-governance. Based on archival research, Sicard’s 1952 thesis has been translated into English with an introduction that places the work in the context of new institutional economics and legal theory. It is an important contribution to research on the history and legal origins of the corporation.

Germain Sicard is a jurist and legal historian who served as Officer of General Affairs, Center for Historical Research, School of Practical Studies in France.