• The women of Ancient Rome created loans of small amounts of money to people without resources, according to a recent study.
  • These managed to circumvent the legal norms that excluded them from banking-related activities.
  • There is evidence of this type of credits in different epigraphic sources.
  • The interests reached 6.25% of the loan and as collateral was requested, for example to women, coats or pending.

The concept of microcredit as a loan of small amounts of money to people without resources to develop labor projects was created by women in Ancient Rome, according to a study conducted by the Roman Law professor at the Jaume I University (UJI) of Castellón, Carmen Lazarus.

These loans were made legally and avoid the need to be authorized by the tutor According to a statement from the UJI, the study shows how women managed to circumvent the legal rules that excluded them from activities related to banking.



For this, and according to Lázaro, they used “loans of small amounts of money made by and between women and guaranteed by contracts in which low-value personal items were given as collateral “.

In addition, the study recognizes the existence of this system of microcredits through different sources, mainly epigraphic, such as the inscriptions found in the House of Roman Granite, in Pompeii. These inscriptions include legal business such as the one carried out by the lender Faustilla, “who grants loans to other women with 6.25% interest, remaining as a guarantee of a return in the form of outstanding collateral or a coat, ” said Lázaro.

The researcher pointed out that these loans could be made legally and avoid the need to be authorized by the guardian “since the money is a fungible and therefore not subject to formality for its transmission to provide legal effects.” The studies carried out by Carmen Lázaro also include other evidence of loan business among women, such as those found in Murécine’s Pompeian tablets or in some literary sources.

Despite the prohibition to participate in banking activities, women were active and passive subjects of obligations linked to pecuniary loans “Despite the prohibition to participate in banking and exchange activities, women were active and passive subjects of linked obligations to pecuniary loans and that they operated in the field of banking and credit, “said Lázaro.

The legal limitations with which women were in Ancient Rome were, as the researcher has pointed out, the ones that led to consolidating this system that, without opposing the legal system, found the mechanism for women to carry out their transactions.

In this sense, Lazaro recalled that the legislation prevented women from having access to certain contractual figures that would limit the performance of certain legal businesses “unless their guardian intervened”.

The researcher concludes that it is “a business that has the characteristics of today known as microcredit and that allowed women to enjoy a certain independence of movement”.

Lazaro also highlighted that the activity of women in the field of business in Ancient Rome “went beyond the activity of loans”, and that there is evidence of women “dedicated to the world of commerce and business, which they directed shipping companies, textile manufacturing companies, footwear, and hotels “.