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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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One Family, Two Bestsellers, and the Legend’s Canonization

One Family, Two Bestsellers, and the Legend’s Canonization

(p.99) 5 One Family, Two Bestsellers, and the Legend’s Canonization
The Promise and Peril of Credit

Francesca Trivellato

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies Jacque Savary's Le parfait négociant, which was first printed in 1675 and was the manifesto of seventeenth-century French commercial society. A far more experienced and effective writer than Cleirac, Savary shared with his predecessor a commitment to setting new legal and cultural standards for private trade and finance. He repeated the fictional account of Jews' invention of bills of exchange while also streamlining and purging the seven relevant pages of Us et coustumes de la mer of their overt anti-Jewish language. After Savary's death, two of his sons published a massive dictionary of commerce, the first of its genre, which proved to be another bestseller of the ars mercatoria and disseminated the legend even further. Taken together, the complete works of the Savarys constitute the most articulate explication of the norms and ethos that infused the practice and politics of commerce under the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

Keywords:   Jacque Savary, French commercial society, private trade, Jews, bills of exchange, commerce, ars mercatoria

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