Luca Pacioli (c.1447 – 1517) was the first person to publish detailed material on the double-entry system of accounting. He was an Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar who also collaborated with his friend Leonardo da Vinci (who also took maths lessons from Pacioli).
It is said that Luca Pacioli published works for the double entry accounting system based on procedures in use by Venetian merchants during the Italian Renaissance. Most of the accounting principles and cycles described by Luca are still in use to this very day. His documentation includes journals, ledgers, year-end closing dates, trial balances, cost accounting, accounting ethics, Rule 72 (developed 100 years earlier than Napier and Briggs), and extensive work on the double entry accounting system.
If you are an accountant working in today’s modern world of ingenious inventions and technology, just remember that the majority of the accounting principles you are using actually date back to the late medieval period and even much earlier.
Pacioli credits Benedetto Cotrugli with originating the double entry method which Cotrugli described in a brief (but at the time unpublished) manuscript some 36 years earlier than Pacioli. History is blurred and some historians actually suggest that the double entry accounting system was in use for hundreds of years before this time in Italy. Pacioli however, is largely acknowledged as producing the first detailed and published material on the subject.
Luca Pacioli is famously quoted as saying that ‘a person should not go to sleep at night until the debits equal the credits’. How many sleepless nights would this equate to for some accountants!
By Tracy James, Franchise Development Director