Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Medina del Campo peaked in 1491 with its recognition as "General Fair of the Kingdom" by the Catholic Monarchs

The principal objective of the Museum of the Fairs, in Medina del Campo, is the conservation and permanent exhibition of the cultural heritage of this town. It takes the world of the large Fairs held in the 15th and 16th centuries as its main theme, and shows their national and international importance as well as their decisive influence in the creation of modern banking. Our desire is to reflect the importance that these commercial activities had, and still have, for the economy, culture and art in our society.
The exhibits have come from the Simón Ruiz Foundation, created by this merchant banker in 1597; from churches and convents in Medina del Campo; and from several other cultural institutions within our community. Among the exhibits can be seen artistic works of the highest quality, as well as historical pieces and documents of great interest; most of them previously unknown to the general public.
Sir Fernando de Antequera is known as the founder of the Fairs of Medina del Campo, during the first decade of the l5th century. In 1421 his wife, Leonor de Alburquerque, signed the first Lodging Ordinances, through which we know where the stall-holders sold their commodities in the streets of commercial centre, at that time totally colonnaded. The continual support offered by successive monarchs was patently obvious throughout the century, and peaked in 1491 with its recognition as "General Fair of the Kingdom" by the Catholic Monarchs.
The annual fairs took place in May and October. At first, mainly the tax-free sale of market products; but in time they became principally meetings of financiers. Together with the Castilian merchants, many agents from the large European "houses" came to Medina to do business. In this way, the main purpose of the early fairs passed to businessmen and money-changers who endorsed credits, arranged large contracts, ordered payments, and above all, "bill of exchange".
Illustrating this first part of the museum, a set of plaster-works and mosaics originating from the Royal Palace is displayed. The Palace was enlarged both by Fernando de Antequera, as well as by the Catholic Monarchs. Additionally, various documents referring to the principal buildings and institutions of Medina are shown: a public outcry for the construction of the third town wall and the Papal Bull for the establishment of the Collegiate Church, together with the official Seal of its Chapter...
The money business and the financial market, of loans with interest, are economic activities that developed greatly at the Medina fairs and they made the town internationally important.
The "bill of exchange" was the most usual form of loan during the 15th and 16th Centuries. Although we are able to look for remote antecedents, the use of this trading device was commenced and consolidated in the middle of the 13th Century. During the 15th Century it was in general use, and it was greatly developed in Fair of Medina del Campo.
Thanks to the legacy of the merchant banker Simón Ruiz, and to the unceasing efforts of the Foundation that bears his name, many exhibits are available to us. In addition to numerous works of art in other sections, his portrait and that of his 2nd wife from Juan Pantoja de la Cruz's school; arks, chests, personal and mercantile documents from his extraordinary archives -the most important of their type; as well as his will, fair books, chairs, permissions, letters, bills of exchange, etc.

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