How a Hostage Crisis in Twelfth Century Venice Led to the Birth of Government Bonds

Trumped-Up Charges, Conflict, Deceit, a Plague, and an Angry Mob

Stephen Foerster
12 min readJan 24

Imagine of medieval Venice
Ponte di Rialto en Palazzo dei Camerlenghi te VenetiëForum, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Today, we take bonds as an investment vehicle for granted. Bonds — along with stocks — are known as traditional investments because they’ve been around for many centuries. Governments borrow when current spending…

Stephen Foerster

I’m a Finance prof, CFA, and author of In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio (with Andrew Lo). I write stories about investing. (I don’t give financial advice.)