In medieval times, big merchandise markets and annual fairs were held at strategically important centres of transport or communications. In addition to goods, currencies were also exchanged at these events. Over time, maritime trade also became increasingly important. From the 14th century onwards, major centres of international trade developed in northern Italy – in Venice and Florence, for instance – and in Bruges in Flanders. Bruges became the warehouse of northern Europe’s seaports. Goods, money and information poured into the Hanseatic city from all over the world. Bruges thus played a crucial role in the development of trade and payment transactions. Spices from the East Indies, English fabrics, sugar, and raw materials were stored, traded and sold on the European continent. Stakeholders included the merchants and traders who travelled to these centres or overseas to get the best deals for their business. The Bruges inn run by the “van der Beurs” family was one of these locations. Fittingly, the family coat of arms depicts three purses: going “zu den Beursen” (to the Beursen) had become established as a figure of speech and, legend has it, is the origin of the term “Börse” (stock exchange). A form of initial stock exchange was thus created in 1409. “Beurs” still means stock exchange in Dutch today.