The World History Oracle integrates poetry, history and word definition. Inspired by the I Ching or The Chinese Book of Changes, it is an experiment to combine genres of thought.




Mud near the river emptying into the ocean
flamingos claim for nests; thousands of miles away
migratory birds prepare to visit the pink bird
in its pristine habitat; the ocean’s domain vast,
navigators mark it up on a map of continents.


In 1337, Florence, Italy, Two Banking Families Loan Money to a King

In the early 1300s, two of the wealthiest and most powerful merchant-banking families in Europe were the Bardi and the Peruzzi of Florence, Italy. Their businesses collapsed in the 1340s shortly after lending vast sums of money to King Edward III of England to finance the Edwardian War against France. The war dragged on longer than the bankers anticipated…the Edwardian War was the start of the Hundred Years War. The King defaulted on his loan, but historians dispute that the repercussions of his default were of the scale to cause a major banking collapse in Florence.

The Bardi and the Peruzzi families were international traders of grain and wool; this complicated their financial dependence on government leaders. Loans to Robert of Anjou, the King of Naples,  were also never paid back. If international trade restrictions imposed by government leaders made it possible for only large multinational corporations like Bardi and Peruzzi to operate effectively, they might not have been able to keep up with demand.

It is also thought the Bardi and Peruzzi overvalued the rate of exchange of Italian currency against foreign currencies in loans and trading. If so, King Edward III and other foreign customers might have been unable or unwilling to pay the money back in full. If they overvalued/ undervalued currencies and merchandise as a way of doing business while monopolizing the market, this practice could eventually lead to widespread recession and their businesses going bankrupt.

Post the banking collapse of 1343:

-Edward III found other sources of funding to continue waging war with France until his death in 1377. The Hundred Years War continued until 1453.
– The Black Death arrived in Italy in the 1340s to eventually kill 30-60 percent of the European population. This changed the economic landscape considerably and merchant-banking companies were never again as large as the Bardi or Peruzzi.
– Florence banking continued its domination in Europe with the eventual emergence of the Medici family. The House of Medici remained a powerful influence in Europe late Medieval Times through the Renaissance until the Medici declared bankruptcy in 1705.



1. To refrain (verb) is to hold back, forbear, abstain from an impulse. (verb)

2. a. In poetry or music, a refrain is a line or group of lines that are repeated at intervals throughout a song or poem b. Chorus or melody c. Repeated utterance or theme. (noun)

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Hunt, Edwin W. (1994), The Medieval Super-Companies: A Study of the Peruzzi Company of Florence, Cambridge University Press

Sumption, Jonathan (1990), The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle, University of Pennsylvania Press

Ormord, W. Mark (2011), Edward III, The English Monarch Series, Yale University Press


Symonds, John Addington (1940-1893), Citing Websites, The Project Gutenberg eBook, Renaissance in Italy, Volume 1 (of 7), March 18, 2005,



Citing websites, Academic Websites and Dictionaries, retrieved January 26, 2013 from

Citing Wikpedia, retrieved January 26, 2013 from