The First Doctrinal Consideration on "Transatlantic" Commercial Law: Tomás de Mercado’s Summa de tratos y contratos, 1569-1571, SvSal WP No. 2021-01.
The "Suma de tratos y contratos" (1569-1571) by Tomás de Mercado is the first legal
treatise on trade that explicitly takes into account the specificities of Spanish trade with the Indias.
Tomás de Mercado was faced with very profound changes in trade: long distances, large convoy sizes, the
need for large amounts of funding, high risk, variations in prices and the value of money...
From a theological-legal point of view, these upheavals posed new and complex questions.
Mercado, advisor to the merchants of Seville and an excellent knowledge of New Spain,
analyses the sudden transformation of economic and juridical practice with finesse and realism. The 'Suma' is
thus an extraordinary real-time testimony to the profound transformations taking place in 16th century commerce.
Moreover, faced with fundamental questions of moral order and juridical legitimacy, Mercado proposes legal
solutions of high equilibrium in which theological imperatives are masterfully reconciled with the needs of
transatlantic commercial practice.
Tomás de Mercado, Trade, Commercial Law, 16th century