Mont de Piete

A pawn depôt. These depôts, called “monti di pietá” (charity loans), were first instituted under Leo X., at Rome, by charitable persons who wished to rescue the poor and needy from usurious money-lenders. They advanced small sums of money on the security of pledges, at a rate of interest barely sufficient to cover the working expenses of the institution. Both the name and system were introduced into France and Spain. The model Loan Fund of Ireland is formed on the same system. Public granaries for the sale of corn are called in Italian Monti frumentarii. “Monte” means a public or State loan; hence also a “bank.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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