Mensarii, bankers acting for public and private benefit
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Mensarii were bank officials appointed or chosen by the state in some circumstances especially in the periods of general poverty. They appeared in Rome in the 4th century, in 352 BC. Quinqueviri mensarii were appointed then to solve the problem of citizens’ indebtness. The commission was established by the virtue of de quinqueuiris mensariis creandis plebiscite. As a consequence a kind of public bank was created, in which there were five citizens. Debt of those citizens who could provide a good security were covered from public resources by quinqueviri mensarii. The debtors who could not do so, transmitted their property to creditors as debt repayment. Seizure of property and forced sales were done after a reliable pricing by officials. The subsequent lexMinucia de triumviris mensariis, passed in 216 BC appointed triumviri mensariis, namely officials who had similar competences as quinqueviri mensari. However, unlike the preceding five-man commission they were not appointed once, in this case we can speak about a certain type of office which operated at least until 210 BC. This commission had probably wide competences. In 214 and 210 BC it registered citizens’ debts and made payments in place of bursars. Probably it also accepted money from the citizens on irregular deposit which was used to support scarce financial resources of the state. Even such charges as soldier’s pay were left in the hands of triumviri mensariis. It was a safe and sure form of deposit since financial resources entrusted to the state were easily reclaimable. Triumviri mensariis, accepted and registered every voluntary contribution for the benefit of the state. They collected gold, silver as well as the bronze mint coins. Mensarii arouse general respect and esteem as far as their activity was concerned.
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