In 1190, with the permission of comte Raymond V of Toulouse, a sort of dam (chaussée) and adjacent mills were built in and on the banks of the River Garonne in Toulouse, France.
Around 1250 96 shares of the Société des moulins du Bazacle, or Bazacle Milling Company, were traded in Toulouse at a value that depended on the profitability of the mills the society owned. The name Bazacle derived from the Latin vadaculum, or "little ford." The original stock offering was underwritten by a group of local seigneurs who shared the profits according to the number of shares they possessed. The shares of this society came to be traded on the open market in Toulouse, and their value fluctuated according to the profitability of the mills. In the sixteenth century the writer Rabelais stated that the Bazacle mills were the most powerful in the world. The company, which survived until 1946, is sometimes claimed as the earliest example of a joint-stock company.