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Weber himself characterized his first book - translated here in its first, complete English edition - as a study in the ""formation of commercial law"". Weber's argument centres on the legal characteristics of mediaeval enterprises as an historical precursor to modern forms of commercial enterprises. Weber emphasizes dimensions of mediaeval law and practices that are at the root of today's business partnerships and modern capitalism.;""The History of Commercial Partnerships in the Middle Ages"" exemplifies Weber's early work in political economy and legal history. His insights here inform parts of his later, classic studies ""The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"" and ""Economy and Society"", in which he clearly and succinctly relates the rise of modern capitalism to core themes of his original dissertation, which forms the basis of this book. This early book was a prelude to the multi-causal and multi-dimensional approach that scholars see reflected in his later writings. In subsequent works he would skillfully expand the comparative historical method he had employed in his dissertation to different areas of law and society.;The book includes a translation of the original documents that Weber so extensively quoted, thus making it his first book accessible to a larger audience. Lutz Kaelber's introduction analyzes the content of Weber's book in the context of Weber's professional career and personal life, summarizes Weber's major arguments and situates these arguments within Weber's philosophy and writings.