By Marcus Arkin
Original yr of publication: 1975
The Jewish contribution to financial growth has been far-ranging, however it has bought inadequate awareness from historians, owing without doubt to the designated problems concerned with addressing so advanced an inquiry. features of Jewish fiscal historical past represents an try out – one of many few heretofore – to survey what the writer calls “this gigantic and bold subject.”
By technique of a chain of interconnected essays Professor Arkin, a long-time scholar of financial heritage, first takes the reader from biblical and postbiblical occasions via many of the major facilities of Jewish monetary existence within the center a long time. He then discusses the underlying positive factors of West eu Jewry throughout the early glossy interval of mercantilism, bargains stimulating new viewpoints at the attitudes of Shakespeare, Sombart, and Mark, evaluates the careers of a few of the nice monetary households just like the Rothschilds, and concludes with a reassessment of Jewish financial job in sleek groups as various from each other because the usa, South Africa, and Israel. An annotated bibliography presents advice for additional study.
Few ventures into the sphere of Jewish monetary heritage have made critical makes an attempt at objectivity. Such reports as there are were mostly a question of hit-or-miss: in keeping with the present weather of professional- or anti-Semitism, it used to be argued – no matter if offensively or defensively – that the half performed by way of the Jewish humans in financial improvement have been all-embracing, or that once all it used to be insignificant. Professor Arkin doesn't purport to hide the full gamut of the topic, yet within the subject matters chosen for dialogue, he has attempted to maneuver clear of the normal stance of the model-builders and avoids the catch of trying to draw too many classes from historical past. he's additionally conscious about many of the problems in settling on the connection among Jewish organisation and the “dismal science” of economics.
“Within the prior few decades,” the writer notes, “a variety of very important monographs have seemed, in line with unique manuscript resources, that are particularly dedicated to specific points (some of them very slender certainly) of [Jewish financial history]. those will give the chance to regard nice elements of the sphere anew and in a way more clinical manner.”
In the period in-between it really is his wish that “the current paintings may perhaps serve to chop a few slim channel that might hyperlink the emerging lake of the professional probings with the vast ocean of Jewish historic study, which typically has omitted monetary developments, allowing the waters of every to circulation extra simply into the other.”
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Additional info for Aspects of Jewish Economic History
Constantinople itself, after sack and pillage by the crusad- 42 / ASPECTS OF JEWISH ECONOMIC HISTORY ers, was a ruin of the city it had once been. The restoration of the Byzantine Empire in 1261 did not mean a return to prosperity for those Jews who had survived the crusader persecutions; the state itself, weakened by loss of territory, financial instability, and the further spread of serfdom, was now racked by an economic palsy from which it never recovered. It was only much later, after the complete disappearance of Byzantium when southeastern Europe was overrun by the Ottoman Turks, that the Jewish community of Constantinople regained its economic importance.
Theodore Bent, Genoa: How the Republic Rose and Fell [London, 1881], p. 19). Consequently, although there were prosperous individual Jewish businessmen to be found in medieval Genoa, the community as a whole existed on the margin of popular forbearance. And in the industrial metropolis of Florence, where all social and political life was dominated by a few families of powerful merchant-drapers who controlled the city’s intricate guild structure—there, too, Jewish merchants were never an integral part of economic development.
Yet the notoriety of the king’s tax farmers was eclipsed by that of the Roman procurators who followed, although their levies on the users of roads, water, houses, and salt were probably no greater than those extracted from the natives of other countries subject to Rome. Even Vespasian’s fiscus Judaicus was not an additional burden but merely the transfer of the Temple tax to finance the erection of a pagan shrine in Rome. However, it was a grave religious affront, and insofar as political stability under foreign rule depended on the close coordination of priestly authority with local government, such Roman actions served to impair the country’s economic well-being.