The medieval monastery as franchise monopolist
Davidson, Audrey B. Department of Economics, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization: Vol.27 (1995)
Medieval Cistercian monasteries were monopoly franchisees of the Roman Catholic Church and were engaged in the sate of the assurance of salvation. A public choice theory of government which defines the spiritual goal as a collective expression of the common good facilitates an analysis within an economic, as opposed to a spiritual framework. The Cistercian’s exclusive territories assisted the organizational structure of successive monopoly between the Church and the monasteries which is resolved by vertical integration and supported with vertical contractual restraints.
The medieval monastery held a central place in local economies. It was often both the solitary large-scale producer of agricultural goods and a franchise monopolist in the sale of the assurance of eternal salvation in a society plagued by disease and poverty. Even today monasteries are an integral part of society on the local level, with monks and nuns employed in the provision of education, health care, poor relief, and other services.