History of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange

11th to 17th century: Fairs, coins, letters of exchange

The roots of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange go back to medieval trade fairs.


1150 Fair in Frankfurt

On the feast of the Assumption in 1150, the Frankfurt Autumn Fair is mentioned for the first time. It was probably built in the 11th century as a harvest fair. Since Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1330 had extended the offer by a spring fair, the city became a place with important goods and money traffic. The trade fair developed from the production of goods on behalf of customers into the production of goods for an open, supra-regional sales market.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Frankfurt had become so prosperous due to its famous trade fairs that Luther described the city as the "silver and gold hole" of the German Empire. With the immigration of merchants from the Netherlands and France, who were persecuted for their Protestant beliefs, wholesale trade and banking also established themselves in Frankfurt in the course of the 16th century. Merchants from large parts of Europe came to Frankfurt to trade.

Since there was no single currency either in Europe or in the German Empire and the countries fell apart into many small economic areas, each with its own monetary system, Frankfurt paid with a wide variety of coins. As a result, the monetary system in Frankfurt proved to be extremely difficult. The confusing abundance of means of payment and the unrestricted exchange rates made usury and fraud possible. In order to counteract this rampant coin wildlife, trade fair merchants came together in 1585 to set uniform exchange rates. Today, this event is regarded as the birth of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

From then on, a circle of merchants met regularly during the trade fair to update the uniform and binding prices for foreign notes and coins. The term "Burs" or "Börse" has been used for this meeting in writing since 1605.

The term "Burs" originates from the 15th century in Bruges, Belgium. It described a regular meeting of rich Italian traders in the square "ter buerse". This marketplace was named after the local patrician family "van der Beurse" (lat. "bursa" - bag, purse).

1585 Foundation

At a meeting held on 9 September, Frankfurt merchants set uniform exchange rates for the first time - their meeting marks the birth of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. 

1694 Trading at Liebfrauenberg

The place of the stock exchange meeting is moved from the Römerberg outdoor to the house "Großer Braunfels" on Liebfrauenberg.

In 1625, the first official price list appeared, listing the average prices for twelve types of money. The oldest still existing Frankfurt stock exchange list dates from 1721. It contained 16 coin prices. In the beginning the meetings took place on the open square in front of the Frankfurt town hall, the "Römer". It was not until 1694/95 that they moved into the "Großer Braunfels" house on Liebfrauenberg. Thus the most important and spacious building of the city was used as a permanent meeting place.

In 1682 the first stock exchange regulations were issued, which resulted in the establishment of an official stock exchange administration. Initially, only exchange transactions with coins and "letters of exchange" were carried out on the stock exchange.

© June 2019, Deutsche Börse AG