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Rescue the Surviving SoulsThe Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century$
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Adam Teller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161747.001.0001

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Ransoming Captives

Ransoming Captives

The Religious, Cultural, and Socioeconomic Background

(p.116) Chapter Eleven Ransoming Captives
Rescue the Surviving Souls

Adam Teller

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes the process of ransoming Jewish captives. Jewish captives had to be ransomed with money raised by the Jewish communities themselves and paid by them to the captors. Over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Jewish society succeeded in creating a broad transregional economic network whose goal was to ransom its members being held captive to be sold as slaves. Largely centered in Venice, from where much of the fundraising was organized, the Jewish ransoming network had other important hubs, particularly in Istanbul and Livorno. This network had grown and developed in the decades before 1648, but it was the flood of eastern European Jewish captives that really put it to the test and tightened the connections between its various components. The ransoming crisis also led to tensions with a second Jewish transregional economic network that was active in the Mediterranean: one tasked with raising funds to support Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. The chapter then assesses why ransoming captives was so important for the Jews of the early modern world, looking at Jewish law and Jewish culture.

Keywords:   Jewish captives, Jewish communities, Jewish society, Jewish ransoming network, ransoming crisis, Jewish transregional economic network, Jewish law, Jewish culture

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