This brings us to the third difference between the Western ethical norms and those of Tokugawa Japan. While in Japan the continuous flow over time, the uninterrupted existence of the group clearly swallowed up much of the individual's personal worth, Christian faith gave to the individual and to him only eternal value. Man had to serve society, had to follow its rules, had to practise charity, the common good was preceding that of the individual, all this is of course true, notably for the Middle Ages. But when all was said and done, even the Church would respect the individual's conscience as ultimate arbiter of his actions. And men were equal, with essentially the same duties and the same promise of salvation. Lastly it was immaterial what a man did as long as he did his duty according to God's laws and his conscience. Here beggar and king were equals. The rise of Western individualism is closely related to the emergence of the capitalist mentality. That individualism was kept in bounds through the Church, initially; but even in Catholic Italy and southern Germany we find the emergence of a strong pride, and even personality cult, among the merchants. They knew what they achieved, they challenged society with their ventures, they took up risky business and competed in an international climate and made kings and emperors their debtors. Tokugawa merchants, too, became lenders to the ruling class, but they kept bowing deeply to them. In the West they proudly asserted their status, as did Jakob Fugger who, even during his lifetime, had his epitaph made in which he is praised as one of the greatest men of his time.