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States, Debt, and Power'Saints' and 'Sinners' in European History and Integration$
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Kenneth Dyson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714071.001.0001

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Theological Traces and Social Contexts

Theological Traces and Social Contexts

(p.162) 6 Theological Traces and Social Contexts
States, Debt, and Power

Kenneth Dyson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the role of theology in framing thinking about debt and as a tool in debt financing, with particular reference to usury, the ‘great chain of being’, moral paternalism, and anti-Semitism. It explains why Jewish financiers became so significant, using the late Holy Roman Empire as a case study. Attention is paid to the circumvention of usury doctrine through subterfuge and hypocrisy; to Crusading and debt; and to the notion of the king’s two bodies. Also, the chapter draws an analytical distinction between three conceptions of sovereign creditworthiness, each grounded in the ideological commitments of different social interests. It documents the rise and fall of these different models of society: hierarchical, market, and communitarian. Most notably, the emergence of self-made wealth, rentiers, and associated new professional groups formed the basis for the primacy accorded to the creditor and for the rise of the statesman-banker.

Keywords:   theology, usury, anti-Semitism, Jewish financiers, social interests, moral paternalism, market, cooperative community, rentiers, statesmen-bankers

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