Church and Loans
During the Middle Ages, certain usury laws imposed by the Church prohibited the charging of interest on loans, thus limiting pawnbroking to people who had religious beliefs outside of the Church. Out of economic necessity, and because of problems in the banking system, pawnshops made a resurgence in later years. The House of the Lombard operated pawnshops throughout Europe. Legend contends that they even counted royalty, such as King Edward III of England, among their clientele during the 14th century. The symbol of the Lombards' operations was the three gold balls that still remain the trademark.