Accounting has few heroes, but one that most acknowledge as worthy of that accolade is Luca Pacioli, the man who published the first printed exposition of double entry bookkeeping in 1494. This was the publication that led to the development of the accounting systems we use today. However, if we consider our literature on Pacioli, it is found to be not just confusing and contradictory, but undecided as to who he was and what he did, or did not do. This paper addresses this ambiguity and uncertainty by adopting a critical hermeneutic analysis of the literature in order to present a more authentic perception of the life and works of Luca Pacioli. Archival discoveries of the past 20 years are embraced with Pacioli's own writings, and those of others who have sought to identify the man and his ambition. The view it reveals shows Pacioli as far more than the peripatetic friar and journeyman teacher of mathematics described in our literature; and it fills a much larger gap than the contradictions and confusion implied in our knowledge of the man who many consider to be the ‘father of accounting’.
- Double entry bookkeeping
- Father of accounting