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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, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Distant Echoes

Distant Echoes

Chapter:
(p.162) 7 Distant Echoes
Source:
The Promise and Peril of Credit
Author(s):

Francesca Trivellato

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691178592.003.0008

This chapter analyzes the echoes of the legend of the Jewish invention of bills of exchange beyond France up to 1800 and how they intersected with a variety of discourses about the morality of commercial credit. The legend that pointed to Jews as the creators of European private finance did not travel along confessional lines. Developed in Catholic France, the legend also appeared in England, the Reformed areas of the Holy Roman Empire, and the United Provinces. A lag of more than fifty years separates the legend's appearance in French and its circulation in other languages. Translations of works by the Savary family and Montesquieu were the legend's most influential vehicles of diffusion and transmutation. Most non-French versions of the legend, however, adapted the tale to make it palatable to new readerships. At the same time, an increasing number of writers challenged the legend's accuracy.

Keywords:   bills of exchange, commercial credit, Jews, European private finance, Catholic France, England, Holy Roman Empire, United Provinces

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