Abram Leon


The Jewish Question


The period of the Jewish usurer


Relations of the Jews with other classes in society

The evolution of the social and economic situation of the Jews was a determining influence upon the relations between them and other social classes. In the era of their economic Apogee, they are solicitously protected by kings and nobles. Their relations with the peasants are not of great importance. As against this, the relations of the Jews with the bourgeois class were hostile from the latter’s very entry upon the historic scene.

Eliminated from commerce, Jewish “capital” takes refuge solely in usury This new situation brings about a change in the attitude of the nobility and royalty toward the Jews. The lords, finding themselves obliged to defend their threatened properties, often pass over to a pitiless struggle against the usurers who are ruining them. The kings continue to “protect the Jews,” but in reality they make use of the Jews to siphon off the resources of the country for their own profit. But so long as exchange economy has not yet penetrated into the rural sphere, the situation of the Jews still remains relatively tolerable.

It is only when the countryside begins to be “capitalized,” when lords and peasants begin to produce more and more for the market, when money begins to conquer an increasingly wider field of action, that all classes in society find themselves in agreement in persecuting and expelling the Jews. The victory of an economy based on money is also the defeat of the former “moneyman.” Eliminated from their role as bankers to the nobility, some Jews still succeed in hanging on within “pores” of the economy. Becoming pawnbrokers, old clothes merchants, peddlers, and secondhand dealers, they eke out a miserable existence in dark ghettos, butt of the hatred and disdain of the people. Increasingly the Jews come into contact only with the poor, the artisans and the peasants. And often the anger of the people, despoiled by the kings and the lords and compelled to pledge their last belongings among the Jews, turns against the walls of the ghetto. The lords and rich bourgeois who utilize the Jews in order further to exploit the people often take advantage of these riots to pillage the “slaves of their treasury.”



A. Royalty and the Jews

When the enemy of the Jews, Gonzalo Matiguez, offered the king of Castile three million pieces of gold on condition that he would expel the Jews, the Bishop Don Gil replied to him: “The Jews are a treasure to the king, a veritable treasure! And you, you want to drive them out .... You are then no less an enemy of the king than you are of the Jews ....” Again, in 1307, following upon a resolution of the Castilian priests against Jewish usury, the king prohibits raising any difficulties for the Jews. “The Jews,” states a decree on this subject, “belong to the king to whom they pay taxes; and that is the reason why it isimpossible to permit any limitation whatever on their economic life, because this would be prejudicial to the royal treasury.”

In Poland, royal protection took on unusual proportions in this epoch. Thus, in 1504, the Polish king, Alexander, declares that he acts towards the Jews as befits kings and the mighty, who should not distinguish themselves solely by their tolerance to Christians, but also to the followers of other religions. [32]

Another Polish monarch, King Casimir Jagiello, similarly states that “he acts in accordance with the principle of tolerance imposed by divine law.”

The reason for this attitude is not difficult to understand. The Jews constituted a source of considerable revenue for the kings. For example, in Spain, it was Jewish financiers, the Ravia brothers, who made it possible for the Castilian kings to bring the war against the Moors to a successful conclusion. Other Jewish bankers supported the Spanish kings in their struggle against the nobility A special fiscal organization, constituted for the collection of Jewish taxes, functioned in several countries. In England, the Scaccarium Judaeorum permitted the registration of all Jewish business affairs and the recovery of loans was effected through its agency. It was directed by a committee of seven members, three of whom were Jews, ,two Christians, and two appointees of the king. Each credit operation brought in ten percent to the royal treasury.

It goes without saying that royalty could not remain content with such a meager share. So appropriate measures, such as extraordinary confiscations, made up for the deficiency in normal taxes.

Juridically, the Jews were “Kammerknechte,” slaves of the royal treasury, and in countries where political power was extremely divided up, they were slaves of the treasuries of the lords. To fill the cashboxes of the mighty, this became their reason for existing. [33]

In Anglo-Saxon law it is stated: “Ipsi Judaei et omnia sua regis sunt,” that is to say, the Jews and all their property belong to the king. The law of North Spain is expressed in the same way: “The Jews are slaves of the king and belong forever to the royal treasury.” [34]

The system was one of grandiose simplicity. The Jews despoiled the lords and the kings fleeced the Jews. But in order to fleece them, it was essential to keep them there. That is why the kings protected the Jews and encouraged their ventures with all the means in the royal power.

But while the king, in his capacity as representative of the State, was interested in protecting the Jews, we must not forget that he was, at the same time, a great lord and consequently one of their great debtors.

In this role he was obviously tempted to put an end to their undertakings, which always constituted a fruitful operation. Whereas, on the part of the lords of lesser importance, the will to free themselves from their debts and to satisfy their greed was checkmated or restrained precisely by the protection which royalty accorded the Jews, the “Great King-Lord” obviously had no such external barriers to surmount.

“Two souls therefore inhabited his body.” In his role as king, he fought the demands of nobility and the bourgeoisie and opposed the massacres and expulsions of the Jews; in his role as the greatest landed proprietor, he himself had the greatest interest in the persecutions directed against the Jews.

The means which the kings could use in order to “extract” money from their Jewish slaves were very varied. First there was the mass arrest. The Jews were imprisoned under any pretext and were not liberated until they handed over rather large sums of money By this method, in 1180, the king of France, Philip II, extorted 150,000 marks from the Jews. Count Alphonse of Poitiers on a similar occasion “collected” 20,000 pounds.

Still other methods were available. The Jews were accused of poisoning wells and using the blood of Christians in their religious ceremonies (the ritual trial). In 1321, the Jews of France were fined 150,000 pounds for poisoning wells.

Finally, the most successful operation of this kind consisted of expelling the Jews, confiscating their goods, and later readmitting them in consideration of’ the payment of enormous sums. In 1182, Philip Augustus throws all the Jews out of his kingdom and confiscates all their real property He lets them return fifteen years later and receives a “gift” of 150,000 marks for this “act of charity.” Again, in 1268, the king of France decrees tat all Jews must leave France and their treasuries are to be confiscated. Soon after negotiations are begun with his “servi camarae” and the order is subsequently rescinded in consideration of substantial gifts.

The expulsion of the Jews in 1306 brought the king of France 228,460 pounds, an enormous sum for the period. Invited anew to return in 1315, the Jews pay 22,500 pounds for this new favor. But some six years later, they find themselves compelled again to take the path of exile.

The history of the Jews of France and of Languedoc ends in 1394 by their definitive expulsion, accompanied by the usual sequel: confiscation of all their goods.

These proceedings are not limited to France. In 1379, the Austrian princes imprisoned all the Jews found in their territories; the latter succeeded in getting free only at an enormous price. The same princes profited from anti-Jewish agitation among the peasants in 1387 by making the Jews pay 16,000 marks.

The attitude of the kings and princes toward the Jews therefore appears somewhat contradictory But it is determined in the last analysis by economic development. Wherever the Jews play an indispensable role in economic life, wherever exchange economy is only weakly developed, state interests impel the kings to protect the Jews, to defend them against all their enemies. Thus, in Poland, royalty always appears as their firmest protector.

In the more developed countries, where usury is no longer anything but an anachronism, the kings have far fewer scruples about pillaging the Jews. Soon the sole important financial power will be that of the bourgeoisie, basing itself on the development of the economy, and in the eyes of the king the Jews will lose all interest. What are the “Jewish bankers” compared to financiers like the Fuggers, the Medicis? Here is what Schipper says in regard to the importance of these “Jewish bankers”: “As regards the importance of the capital of the Jewish bankers of Italy, we have only found two really rich families among the Jewish capitalists. But what were they in comparison with such magnates as the Medicis who, around 1440, possessed half a million florins, or Agostino Chigi, who in 1520, left eight hundred thousand ducats!” Jewish bankers had at their disposal only several thousand florins.

It goes without saying that under these conditions the Jews could no longer be of interest to the kings. The era of the great Jewish magnates who supported the royal power against its domestic and foreign enemies was definitely closed. “The increasing expenditure which war imposed upon the state or the princes compelled the latter to find some new means of replenishing their treasuries; for now that bands of mercenaries and fleets were playing a greater part in warfare, it was becoming more costly than ever. The old sources of revenue were insufficient .... Consequently, the only thing to be done was to apply to the Third Estate – that is, to the cities – and to ask them to open their purses.” [35]

The decline of the economic position of the Jews, produced by the “capitalization” of economy, resulted in the loss of the protection which the kings and princes had accorded them. The kings became actively associated in the persecutions and pillaging of the Jews.



B. The nobility and the Jews

In the early Middle Ages, the Jews were indispensable to the nobles in their capacity as principal suppliers of Oriental products. Later on, the noble wastrel, living without foresight, needed the Jews as a money reserve always ready to satisfy his caprices. For many a powerful lord the Jew was, as he was for the kings, an important source of revenue. In the epoch when royalty had not yet asserted its complete authority over the nobility, frequent conflicts broke out between princes, lords, and kings for possession of the Jews. [36]

In the twelfth century there was much talk about the suit between the Countess Blanche and King Philip Augustus over the Jew Kresslin who had fled from the domain of the Countess in order to take refuge in the Lands of the king.

“After the manner of the kings, the barons appropriated the Jews; a baron would say ‘my Jews’ just as he said ‘my lands’ when he counted up his income. This property was in fact very remunerative ....

“Thibaud, Count of Champagne, was as certain as King Philip of his property right over the Jews who lived in his domains. In 1198 the two concluded an agreement in which each promised not to detain the other’s Jews.” [37]

The practice of agreements on the subject of the Jews spreads rapidly in the thirteenth century Instead of having to engage in long suits, the kings and princes agreed to surrender to each other the Jews who took refuge on their territories. Such an agreement reached in 1230 states that the king as well as the princes preserve their rights in the Jews “who are like slaves” (Judaeus tam quam proprius servus).

“Later on, we see Jews put on the auction block after a fashion. Philip IV buys all the Jews of the county of Valois from his brother, the Count of Valois, after having had a suit against him concerning 43 Jews whose property he claimed. He also buys from him a Jew of Rouen who was good for 300 pounds quarterly.” [38]

“Whereas the Prince Electors have the right within their domains to exploit all mines of gold, silver, tin, iron as well as salt mines, therefore be it also granted them the right to admit and to possess Jews.” This is the wording of a “golden bull” of the German emperor in the year 1356.

Presently the German cities, prospering increasingly, will dispute the right to possess Jews with the kings and princes. Just as between royalty and the princes, so also an agreement will be reached with the cities which will thus acquire an important share of the profits accruing from the exploitation of the Jews.

It goes without saying that all those who thus profited from Jewish usury could only be hostile to the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. So true is it that religion is only a reflection of an economic function, that conversion of Jews to Christianity automatically led to the abandonment of their profession by the converts. “The conferences convoked by the new converts always led to violent conversions of a certain number of Jews, even if they did not win over the rabbis who participated in the discussions. This reached a point where the lords, and the bishops themselves, whose Jews were thus being taken from them and who were thus being deprived of the income which they received from them, complained to the king on a number of occasions. The Bishop of Palencia, following a conference convoked by a converted Jew Jehuda-Mosca – a conference which had led to the conversion of a large number of Jews – prayed the king to come to his aid, in view of the fact that his resources were going to be greatly reduced.” [39]

The English king, William II, who went so far as to farm out the revenues of vacant Episcopal seats to the Jews, compelled converted Jews to return to Judaism in order not to lose the profits which he drew from them. In order to prevent the conversion of Jews, another English king, Henry II, decreed that the goods of Jews embracing Christianity, would be attached by the Crown, to make up for the losses in revenues that the Jews would have brought the king if they had not been converted. [40]

By this we can see the naiveté of our idealist historians who imagine that all the efforts of Christianity were in the direction of converting the Jews and who believe that all the sufferings of the Jews must be explained by the resistance which they made to these efforts. So long as the economic function represented by Judaism was necessary, there was opposition to their religious assimilation which also meant their economic assimilation. It is solely when Judaism became superfluous economically that it had to assimilate or disappear.

It was, of course, only a tiny part of the nobility which profited from Jewish usury. For the majority of feudal lords, the Jew was a direct cause of their ruin. For the king or the prince to be able to despoil the Jews, it was necessary that the majority of the nobles should groan under the weight of their debts.

Compelled thus to surrender to the Jews a portion of the surplus value which they extorted from the peasants, it was obvious that the nobles would endeavor to retake it from them at the first opportunity The indebtedness of the nobles to the Jewish usurers contained the germs of bloody conflicts.

In 1189, there were anti-Jewish excesses in a number of English cities: at London, Lincoln, etc.

A year later occurred the tragedy of York. The indebted knights of the Yorkshire Jews, goaded on by a certain Malebys, attacked the Jews and the Scaccarium Judaeorum. The notes found in the Scaccarium were solemnly burned and the Jews who took refuge in the chateau Were besieged. The affair ended by a mass suicide of the besieged Jews. The customary sequel was not lacking: the king took over the notes held by the suicides, since the Jews were the slaves of his treasury The anti- Jewish massacres at London in 1264, which counted 550 victims, had also been organized by landed proprietors indebted to the Jews. The same was true about the anti-Jewish riots in other cities. Thus, at Canterbury it began by an attack against the Scaccarium Judaeorum.

All over Europe assemblies of the nobility are unceasing in their protest against Jewish usury Their various demands best characterize the position of the feudal lords to the Jews.

In the second half of the thirteenth century the Castilian cortes submit the three following demands to the king:

  1. regulation of Jewish credit operations and limitations on the interest rates demanded by usurers;
  2. proscription of hereditary rights in the possession of lands by Jews;
  3. a reform of the financial administration and elimination of Jewish functionaries and comptrollers.

These will be the classical demands of the nobility in all the countries of Europe. They aim to limit the portion of surplus value that the nobility is compelled to turn over to the Jews, to prevent the latter from becoming landed proprietors and from seizing control of the state apparatus.

It was not until the fourteenth century that the Spanish nobility achieved its first results in this sphere. In 1328 King Alphonse IX reduced the rate of interest to 25 percent and canceled one-fourth of all Jewish credits: In 1371, there was another amputation of the credits. The occasions were not few in which the Aragon cortes raised their voices against the high rate of interest paid to the Jews, notably in 1235, 1241, 1283, 1292, and 1300.

The cortes of Portugal complain of Jewish usury in 1361 as becoming an increasingly unbearable yoke upon the population.

“In the circles of the Spanish nobility and rich patrician class the Jews were hated because of their state functions, where they showed themselves to be servile instruments of royalty, as well as because of the great tax and impost farming by which the Jewish magnates unceasingly augmented their fortunes.” [41]

In Poland also, the demands of the nobility and the clergy against Jewish usury became more and more pressing. An ecclesiastical congress, held in 1420, demanded measures by the king against “great Jewish usury.” In 1423, Vladislav Jagiello promulgated the Statute of Warta which forbade the Jews to lend on mortgages. In 1454, the Statute of Nieszawa limited the validity of Jewish credit to three years. The sejms of the nobility succeeded in banning the Jews from access to state employment.

The Polish nobility pursued the same objectives as the Spanish nobility: limitation of the interest rate, safeguarding of its properties, elimination of Jews from state employment.

Political reasons join with economic causes for the hostility which the nobility nurses against the Jews. “In 1469 the cortes protest against the admission of Jews to tax farming and against the protection with which the kings surround them. Ritual trials and massacres come to the support of the pressures exerted by, the nobility upon royalty.” [42]

The Jews were, in fact, solid supports of royal absolutism which was above all directed against the nobility. The surplus value surrendered to the Jews by the nobles aided in forging their chains.

The small barons hated the Jews as creditors, the great ones saw in them one of the principal financial resources on which the king’s independence of them rested.

The financial support furnished the kings by the Jews was indispensable to them in their struggle against the nobility as well as in their opposition to the growing demands of the cities. It was the Jews who first permitted the kings to maintain costly armies of mercenaries which begin to take the place of the undisciplined hordes of the nobility These armies first served foreign policy. Thus, in Spain, it was in large part Jewish finance which allowed the kings to defeat the Arabs. “In 1263, the Jewish banker Jehudah de Cavallera loans the king [of Aragon] a great sum which permits him to equip a flotilla against the Arabs. In 1276, Cavallera amasses funds for an army which fights the Arabs at Valencia.” [43]

But what is more serious in the eyes of the nobility and augments the list of its grievances is the support that the Jews furnish royalty in the struggle which it is conducting against the feudal lords.

We have already spoken of the Ravia brothers who supplied the royal army with money and arms during the domestic wars which the king conducted against the insurgent nobles of Catalonia. The nobility could not forgive the Jews for that. The Ravia brothers fell victims of assassins as did so many of their successors.

Generally speaking the struggle of the nobility against the Jews was far less radical than that of the bourgeoisie. Different social contents influenced the intensity and forms of struggle of each class. Whereas the landed proprietor still had need of the Usurer and sought simply to limit the field of his activity, the bourgeois and even the bourgeoisified noble resented him more and more as an intolerable barrier.



C. The bourgeoisie and the Jews

The commercial monopoly of the Jews was one of the greatest obstacles that the nascent bourgeoisie had to surmount. Destruction of the commercial domination of the Jews was the precondition for its own development.

It was not a question of a struggle between two national or religious groups for commercial supremacy but a conflict between two classes each representing a different economic system. The apparent national competition is only a reflection here of the transition from feudal economy to exchange economy The Jews ruled commerce in the epoch when “the great proprietors bought works of refinement and objects of luxury of great price against large quantities of the raw materials from their lands.” [44] The industrial development of Western Europe put an end to their monopoly. [45]

In struggling against the Jews, the native traders were rising up against an outmoded economic function which appeared more and more as an intolerable exploitation of the country by foreigners.

The relations of the merchant class with the Jews after the eviction of the latter from commerce underwent a profound modification. Jewish credit was essentially consumers’ credit. It was not to the Jewish bankers that the traders had recourse for their business. Great banking houses like the Medicis, the Chigis, the Fuggers, developed in the great cities. Later, when exchange economy will have penetrated into the rural domains, the Jewish usurers will be crowded out by these great invading Christian banks. Just like precapitalist commerce, which exchange economy drives out of the cities, the usurer is dislodged by the penetration of capitalism into the feudal domain.

Altogether different will be the position of the great merchants towards the Jews when the latter, upon the decline of their economic role, will no longer be anything but petty usurers lending to artisans and small shopkeepers. The Jew no longer appears in that period as a competitor of the rich trader or banker; he concerns them insofar as he is an interesting source of profit and insofar as he is a means for weakening the popular classes with whom he is engaged in continuous struggle. The great merchants will now dispute with the kings and lords for the Jews. It is above all in Germany that the cities pass over to a general offensive to take possession of the profits which the “royal” Jew procured for the princes.

The “royal” Jew is increasingly divided up from the second half of the thirteenth century on. The German cities, already flourishing in this period, begin to demand a share of him also. Their determined struggle against the feudal lords had enabled them to conquer a series of liberties such as autonomous courts and the right of administration. They now turn their attention to the “royal” Jew; they strive to tear him out of the hands of the lords and of the emperor.

The city of Cologne, in 1252, secures from its archbishop the right to a third of the taxes collected from the Jews in the city The bishop of Worms, in 1293, allows the city council to admit and to tax Jews. [46] “On March 7,1456, the bishop Burchard pawns the Jews of Halberstadt for three years with the council of this City. [47]

The “royal” Jew is conquered:

by Mainz, in 1259;

by Regensburg, at the end of the thirteenth century;

by Nuremberg, in 1315;

by Speyer in 1315;

by Zurich, in 1335;

by Frankfort, in 1337;

by Strasbourg, in 1338, etc.

The struggle of these three forces: the nobility the emperor, and the cide~ ends up in a compromise upon the backs of the Jews.

They will pay:

  1. to the emperor:
    1. a normal tax (in 1240 the Jews paid one-fifth);
    2. a gold pfennig which every Jew or Jewess possessing more than 20 gulden had to pay;
  2. to the nobility:
    1. an annual tax;
    2. an extraordinary tax;
  3. to the cities:

Numerous taxes and extraordinary imposts were added to those listed above. Methods similar to those which we have encountered in other European countries were employed to extort as much money from the Jews as possible. Popular and peasant riots similarly constituted unique occasions for getting lush payments from the Jews for the protection that was granted them.

The growth of the power of the cities augmented their power over the Jews. “In 1352,” according to an authorization by the emperor to the city of Speyer, “the Jews inhabiting our city will belong to us exclusively, will be our property in body and goods.”

An agreement of 1352 stipulates that the city of Frankfort must pay the emperor half of the profits that it collects from the Jews. At Nuremberg, the emperor’s share rose as high as two-thirds.

The class struggle having as its object the division of the profits derived from the exploitation of the Jews, often turned against the latter. “The bishop of Cologne,” states a chronicle of this city “wished to have a perpetual monopoly of the profits from the ‘royal’ Jew That is the reason why the Jews were driven out of this city forever.” The Jews “of the emperors” were badly treated by the princes, those of the princes by the bourgeoisie.



D. Relations of the Jews with the artisans and peasants

In the measure that usury became the principal occupation of the Jews, they entered increasingly into relations with the popular masses and these relations worsened all the time. [48] It was not luxury needs but the direst distress which forced the peasant or the artisan to borrow from the Jewish usurer. They pawned their working tools, which were often indispensable to assure their livelihood. It is easy to understand the hatred that the man of the people must have felt for the Jew in whom he saw the direct cause of his ruin, without perceiving the emperor, the prince, or the rich bourgeois, who became richer thanks to the Jewish usurer. It is in Germany above all where Jewish usury took on its most “popular” form, principally in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, that the hatred of the Jews manifested itself most, a hatred which ended in anti-Jewish massacres and in the “burning” of Jews (Judenbrand).

“Many instances of Jewish persecutions in the Middle Ages were first and foremost efforts to destroy the letters of credit which were in their possession and are, therefore, to be viewed as a barbarous method of meeting a financial crisis, as a medieval form of what we of the present time would call a social revolution.” [49]

The first large scale riots against the Jews took place between 1336 and 1338. They were led by the publican Cimberlin, the “king of the poor,” and from Alsace they spread into Bavaria, Austria, and Bohemia. But it was above all during the years of the “Black Death,” between 1348 and 1350, that fanaticism joined with hatred and made terrifying ravages. At Strasbourg, it was the guilds that preached annihilation of the Jews. But the city council, on which sat a patrician majority which drew large profits from usury; refused to give its consent. Bourgeois such as Conrad von Winterbourg, the rich Sturm, and the wealthy artisan Schwarber, made speeches in favor of the Jews. Nevertheless the guilds did not abandon their anti-Jewish demands. The matter was finally left to a congress which was to meet in 1343 and in which representatives of the church, the nobility, and the cities were to take part. The demands of the guilds were supported by the church and by the lords, who were anxious to rid themselves of their debts. [50] Following this, the Jews were declared outside the pale of the law and the burning of Jews spread throughout Alsace.

At Mainz and at Cologne, the patricians tried to protect the Jews but were submerged by the popular wave. A city chronicle of Augsburg relates the following: “In 1384, the bourgeois of Nedlingen having massacred all the Jews of Nedlingen, took possession of their goods. The debtors of the Jews, among them the Count of Etingen, were freed of their debts. The pledges and notes of the Count were returned to him. All this was done by the mob against the will of the city council.”

The peasant revolts were accompanied by massacres of Jews. In 1431, the armed peasants of the Pfalz marched against Worms and demanded that the city council hand over the Jews to them, “in view of the fact that they had ruined them and taken away their last shirt.” The council opposed these demands since its members were the ones who profited most from Jewish usury The lords entered into negotiations with the council in order to obtain the cancellation of accumulated interest bearing down upon the impoverished peasants.

The anti-Jewish riots in Catalonia and in the Balearic Islands bear the same character. The peasants, living in great poverty and heavily indebted to the Jews because of the burden of taxes, revolt in order to free themselves from their debts. They burn the judicial archives.




32. The principle of religious tolerance is preached at the end of the Middle Ages in one of the most backward countries of Europe. Isn’t this rather embarrassing to idealist historians who view the whole Jewish problem through the prism of religious persecutions?

33. “Among nations to whom commerce and manufactures are little known, the sovereign, upon extraordinary occasions, can seldom draw any considerable aid from his subjects. It is in such countries, therefore, that he generally endeavors to accumulate a treasure, as the only resource against such emergencies.” Smith, op. cit., p.414. It was to the Jews, “servi camarae,” that fell the function of filling this treasury.

34. A German interpretation of this condition does not lack a certain flavor: “In gratitude to Joseph Flavius who had cured his son, the Emperor Vespasian resolved to protect the Jews, and Titus, after the ruin of the second temple, welcomed many Jews whom he reduced to slavery. From that time on, the Jews are slaves of the state and it is as such that they should be considered in the German State, since the German kings are successors of the powerful emperors of ancient Rome.”

35. Pirenne, History of Europe, op. cit., p.390.

36. “The Jew was such a fruitful and wonderful thing to exploit that every prince sought to have as many of them as possible. There were the king’s Jews and those of the .... Philip the Handsome, in 1299, bought all the Jews of the county of Valois from his brother for twenty thousand pounds.” G. d’Avenel, op. cit., vol.1, p.111.

37. Depping, Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age, op. cit., p.174.

38. Bédarride, op. cit., p.219.

39. Ibid., p.205.

40. Brentano, Eine Geschichte der Wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung Englands, op. cit., vol.1, p.369. “A custom was introduced of confiscating the effects of those Jews who embraced Christianity .... This confiscation was a species of the right of amortization, to recompense the prince, or the lords, for the taxes levied on the Jews, which ceased on their embracing Christianity.” Montesquieu, Spirit of the Law (Cincinnati, 1873), vol.2, p.42.

41. Schipper, Jewish History, op. cit., vol.2, p.133.

42. Sometimes the Jews also go over to the offensive. In 1376 the banker Jekl employs bands of mercenaries against noble debtors who have refused to pay their debts. His son engages mercenaries with a view to launching an attack against Nuremburg, the council of this city having confiscated his houses.

43. Schipper, Jewish History, op. cit., vol.1, p.144.

44. “The inhabitants of trading cities, by importing the improved manufactures and expensive luxuries of richer countries, afforded some food to the vanity of the great proprietors, who eagerly purchased them with great quantities of the rude produce of their own lands. The commerce of a great part of Europe in those times accordingly, consisted chiefly in the exchange of their own rude for the manufactured produce of more civilized nations?’ Smith, op. cit., p.380.

45. “So long as raw materials were the principal product for export by England, foreign commerce was in the hands of foreign traders and merchants of the market place [Stapelkaufleute] .... This changed in the degree that the English began themselves to process their raw materials especially wool. Now [English] merchants began to seek outlet for the ready sale of their manufactured goods, the merchant adventurers.” Brentano, Eine Geschichte der Wirtchaftlichen Entwicklung Englands, op. cit., vol.2, p.139. My emphasis.

46. Schipper, Jewish History, op. cit., vol.2, p.35.

47. Köhler, op. cit., p.3.

48. See quotation from Capital, vol.3, p.700, previously given in this chapter.

49. Roscher, op. cit., p.24.

50. The attitude of the nobility is probably explained by the fact that the wealthy bourgeoisie had succeeded in getting possession of the “royal” Jew and as a consequence the interests of the lords coincided with those of the popular masses of the cities as against the patricians.


Last updated on 24.1.2002