The school of Salamanca: Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson - 1952

Oct 31, 2016·John Butler

Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson's remarkable classic, The School of Salamanca, posed an extraordinary challenge when it first appeared in 1952.

One can see how it came to have such influence on both Joseph Schumpeter and Murray Rothbard, both of whom used this work as their major source material. The book is not only a pioneering presentation of this lost school of monetary theory — fantastic thinkers of Old Spain that were more advanced than the English classicals centuries later — but it is also beautifully written. Grice-Hutchinson is an outstanding tour guide and teacher.

Spanish scholars have long known about the great economists of the late Middle Ages and their works. But for English speakers, this book broke completely new ground. It not only highlighted an unknown school of monetary theory; it also presented the origins of economic theory on the Continent, prompting a rethinking of the entire history of the discipline.

A theme emerges from this work. These thinkers were promarket, pro–hard money, antistate in many ways, propriety, and promerchant to a surprising extent. Their theoretical orientation was subjectivist, marginalist, and process oriented. In other words, the Salamanca School represented a kind of proto–Austrian School with a strong liberal bent (liberal in the old sense).

Modern-day Keynesians would benefit from learning what the Salamanca scholars knew many hundreds of years ago. And modern-day Austrians would benefit from exploring their rich Salamancan intellectual heritage.