The 17th-century origins of a modern finance tool

In the early 1600s, the officials running Durham Cathedral, in England, had serious financial problems. Soaring prices had raised expenses. Most cathedral income came from renting land to tenant farmers, who had long leases so officials could not easily raise the rent. Instead, church leaders started charging periodic fees, but these often made tenants furious. And the 1600s, a time of religious schism, was not the moment to alienate church members.

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