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The Dialogus de Scaccario (c.1179): The First Western Book on Accounting?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443 - 474
Number of pages32
Issue number4
DatePublished - Dec 2008


There has been much interest in the first books on accounting in the Western world. However, generally this has focused on books on double-entry bookkeeping. Double-entry bookkeeping emerged in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and was first expounded in printed form in Pacioli's famous treatise in 1494. The system which double-entry gradually supplanted was charge and discharge accounting. Charge and discharge accounting was widespread in medieval Britain. Its origins appear to have been in the English Exchequer about 1110. By the late twelfth century, it was well-established. In 1177–79, Richard fitz Nigel wrote the Dialogus de Scaccario (Dialogue of the Exchequer) which explained its workings. This treatise, written in the form of a dialogue between master and disciple, outlines not only the duties of the parties involved, but also the accounting system which was employed. This book represents perhaps the first Western book on accounting.

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Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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