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The Promise and Peril of CreditWhat a Forgotten Legend about Jews and Finance Tells Us about the Making of European Commercial Society$
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Francesca Trivellato

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691178592

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691178592.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The Making of a Legend

The Making of a Legend

(p.36) 2 The Making of a Legend
The Promise and Peril of Credit

Francesca Trivellato

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses Étienne Cleirac's commentary on the first article of the Guidon de la mer (The Standard of the Sea). In brief, he says that the Jews expelled from France invented marine insurance policies and bills of exchange in order to salvage their assets when fleeing to “Lombardy,” that is, to northern and central Italy. From there, Italian refugees exported the newly invented financial instruments north of the Alps, where bankers and moneylenders were called “Lombards,” a name eventually given to a public square in Amsterdam. Cleirac's merging of these spaces has the effect of tracing a direct line between fourteenth-century Lombards and seventeenth-century Amsterdam and makes pawnbroking appear contiguous with the most sophisticated forms of financial credit developed during the sixteenth century. This chronological compression is crucial to Cleirac's rhetorical strategy of making medieval Jewish moneylenders, the object of scorn and prejudice, interchangeable with the international merchant-bankers of the seventeenth century.

Keywords:   Étienne Cleirac, Jews, marine insurance policies, bills of exchange, Lombardy, Italian refugees, pawnbroking, financial credit, Jewish moneylenders, merchant-bankers

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