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Accounting lessons from a medieval woman: The writing of Christine de Pisan

Miley, F.M. & Read, A.F. (2016). Accounting lessons from a medieval woman: The writing of Christine de Pisan. Paper presented at the 39th European Accounting Association Annual Congress, Maastricht.

Abstract: Extant research in accounting history has viewed double-entry bookkeeping as a development of single-entry bookkeeping, also known as charge and discharge accounting, that was either prompted by the rise of mercantilism or capitalism. This has led to historical research in accounting that seeks to uncover early examples of the purposes ascribed to double-entry booking in examples of early financial accounts were prepared using single-entry bookkeeping. This research seeks to enhance our understanding of accounting by using the writing of Christine de Pisan, a medieval Italian-French writer, on the nature and purpose of single-entry bookkeeping to demonstrate that single-entry bookkeeping is not a simpler or earlier version of double-entry bookkeeping but a separate approach to bookkeeping which should be considered in its own right. We turn to philosophy of science and draw an analogy using Lakatos’ methodology of scientific research programmes to understand why single-entry and double-entry bookkeeping co-existed for many centuries and why double-entry bookkeeping became dominant.

Full paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page

Spies, debt and the well-spent penny: accounting and the Lisle agricultural estates 1533–1540

Miley, F.M. & Read, A.F (2016). Spies, debt and the well-spent penny: accounting and the Lisle agricultural estates 1533–1540. Accounting History Review, 26(2), 83-105. doi: 10.1080/21552851.2016.1187638.

Abstract: The Lisle family was one of the wealthiest families in England during the early Tudor period. Its wealth came primarily from agricultural estates. This research examines the family’s accounting during the period 1533–1540. We examine the family’s use of correspondence to an extensive network of spies, called privy friends, to secure allegiances, obtain information and help the family increase its agricultural landholdings. We also examine the use of correspondence to facilitate cash flow through strategies to manage indebtedness. While the family’s agricultural holdings ensured its continuing wealth, the management of indebtedness, gifts and payments to privy friends were important for wealth accumulation. The strategies used by the Lisle family were responses to a turbulent, uncertain and ever-shifting political environment. We conclude that Tudor manorial estate accounting systems included both financial accounts and correspondence and that both must be considered when analysing the role of accounting information in single-entry accounting systems.

Full paper available from Accounting History Review.