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Originally posted by aliengenes
reply to post by MikeboydUS
but the joos were the first
The early Christian Church, for reasons connected to the New Testament, declared that any usury was against divine law, preventing pious, and outwardly pious Christians from using capital for mercantile purposes. In 1179, Pope Alexander III excommunicated usurers, which in that period was seen as an extremely harsh punishment. However, Canon Law was not regarded by medieval society as having any authority over Jews, and thus Christian monarchs looked to the Jews to supply capital to them; in many European countries, medieval civil law also allowed the monarchs to automatically inherit any remaining income and property that had been acquired by usury, upon the death of the Jewish usurer involved. Medieval European monarchs thus supported the Jews, and suppressed any attempts to convert them to Christianity, since it would deprive the monarch of potential income. In England and France, the monarchs demanded compensation from the church for every Jew that was converted, and, until 1281, the English monarch had the legal right to claim half the property of any Jew that converted to Christianity.
By the later Middle Ages, Christian Merchants who lent money with interest were without opposition, and the Jews lost their privileged position as money-lenders; from the 15th century, Jews were mainly found as dealers in second-hand clothing, since European society was religiously prejudiced against them, permitting them few other forms of income. Despite this, the Jews' reputation for usury remained well into the 20th century, and the stereotype often had serious consequences for them.