Jews in the European economy
in The Jews in western Europe 1400–1600
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This chapter considers the main aspects of the involvement of Jews in the European economy of the late medieval and early modern periods. In all western European countries with Jewish populations in this period, there were restrictions on the economic roles which Jews might fulfil. In the great majority of cases, the result of the Church policies was to confine Jews to trade and finance, whatever their personal inclinations may have been. Although examples are given of Jews who performed various economic functions in this period, in public or private capacities, the chapter discusses a contemporary account of how Jews were commonly perceived by the Christian majority. Despite the 1412 prohibition of royal tax collection by Jews, as late as 1488, just four years before the Spanish expulsion edict, a Jew might still obtain a national contract to collect taxes for the Castilian Crown.


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