The Jewish community in Rome is the oldest in Europe, the only one to have existed continuously for over 2,000 years. This detailed study of the Jewish banking community in Italy is therefore of special value and interest. Poliakov’s classic account of the rise and fall of the Jewish bankers is at the same time the story of medieval finance in general, its decline, and the birth of ‘modern’ finance. The author traces the economic and theological implication of each stage in the ambiguous relationship that developed between the Jewish money trade and the Holy See. He shows that the protection enjoyed by the Jews from the Holy See had not only theological, but also economic roots. The study ends with an account of the introduction of modern, ‘capitalist’ techniques and of the consequent inevitable decline of the Jewish money trade.
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