Bruno Blondé (University of Antwerp)
In Spite of Discrimination and Inequality: The City as a Propelling Force of the Lombard Moneylenders Achievements in the Low Countries (13th-17thC.)
Myriam Greilsammer (Bar Ilan University Ramat Gan Israel)
Lombard Moneylenders Economic History, Anthropological History of the Low Countries, Discrimination Inequality Resilience
This paper underlines the antithetical consequences of the North Italian moneylenders’ discrimination in the cities of the Low Countries. These “lombards” provided a comprehensive range of commercial and banking services (consumption credit, pawnbroking and money changing). From the 14thC., they held the monopoly of moneylending in the Low Countries, loaning money to institutions and individuals and meeting the high demand for consumption credit. In theory, they were excluded from the Christian community, as their "sinful" activity (usury) was totally rejected by canonical and theological norms (they were denied salvation and sacraments). In consequence, they suffered in the cities from discrimination and legal inequality. I wish first to underline that because there was a tremendous need for their profession since the Commercial Revolution, this severe discrimination had positive consequences that enabled them to play a major role in the general urban development. The animosity of their environment generated among the lombards what can be called a “struggle for survival mentality”, based on inventiveness, solidarity and mutual assistance. They were forced to build ingenious strategies in order to succeed in their endeavors and extend their trade. Their economic success enabled them to reach social integration, to climb rapidly the social ladder, to access to the Patriciate and even the Nobility, and to gain political influence. Their discrimination as sinful Christians had another positive impact. In order to be accepted by the urban and religious environment and to have their “sins” forgiven, they played a tremendous role as patrons of charity deeds, and of promoters of art and architecture in the cities. On the other hand, the hatred of the public towards the moneylenders and their bad reputation, generated a cultural reaction centered on negative stereotypes. There are plenty of examples of this detestation in the urban literature (theatre plays, novels, poetry, moral writings, merchant didactic manuals), in the figurative arts (painting, sculpture) and the urban planning (architecture). After their ban from the Low Countries cities at the beginning of the Seventeenth Century, these negative stereotypes acquired an independent life in the ”longue durée”, and are still vivid in today’s mentalities.
Together against Inequality : The Joint Struggle of Jews and Catholics in Bayonne against the Discriminative chocolate-Makers Guild during the 18th Century
Nimrod Gaatone (Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB))
Jewish Economic History, Social History of France, Discrimination Inequality Resilience
This paper discusses the rapprochement between the Catholic majority population, and the Jewish minority, in the city of Bayonne, at the south-west of France, during the 18th century, after over a century of rejection and discrimination against the local Jews. Since the 17th century, and despite a warm welcome by the French royal authorities, the Iberian Jews who came to Bayonne, in fear of the Spanish and the Portuguese inquisitions, were rejected and discriminated by the city's authorities because of their origins and different faith. This policy was strongly backed by Bayonne's Catholic majority population. The Jews were banned from living intras-muros and their commercial activities were limited. Nevertheless, they had some success in their commerce, including in the manufacturing and marketing of chocolate, a product that until then was almost unknown in France, and warmly adopted by the residents of Bayonne. During the 18th century, local Catholic chocolate-makers, supported by the city's authorities, tried to erect a guild, and, hence, ban the Jews from practicing their craft. However, prominent Catholic merchants who financially benefited from the Jewish chocolate-making cooperated with the Jews in their struggle against the erection of this guild. The legal battle that followed, the terminology and practices which were used by both sides, and its outcome, resulted in a major change of the city's authorities policy towards the local Jews and, indirectly, also echoed in the long-term, in the struggle of the Jews in France for integration and emancipation during the French Revolution.
The Intra- and Inter-urban Dynamics of the Scientific Instrument Trade in Britain, 1760-1860
Alex Butterworth (University of Sussex) and Duncan Hay (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University of London)
Scientific Instruments, Communities, Businesses
This paper will report on current investigations into the unequal distribution of the increasingly complex communities of the scientific instrument trade that developed in British urban centres during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The research is one of five core case studies that comprise a thirty-month AHRC-funded research project, begun in January 2021, ‘Tools of Knowledge: Modelling the Creative Communities of Scientific Instrument Makers in Britain, 1550-1914.’ The project is grounded in the semantic remodelling of an inherited legacy database of over ten thousand makers, their careers and relationships, and enhanced with complementary data aggregated from many diverse supplementary sources. This database covers an interesting moment in the development of the scientific instrument trade. Between c. 1750 and 1850 the trade transitioned from artisanal models of production, regulated by guild and apprenticeship structures, to much more recognizably capitalist forms of labour organization. In this paper, we investigate the question of whether this shift in the structure of the trade led to differing distributions of wealth and other forms of inequality within the industry.
The legacy database is being enriched to allow the analysis of these creative communities in their geospatial and social context. Through this work, we now are beginning to see not only the spatial patterns of the British scientific instrument trade, but also kinship and social relationships, guild membership and business structures, the shifting roles played by the makers, their suppliers, associated trades and their clients. To support our analysis of the spatial dynamics of the scientific instrument trade at a range of scales - micro/meso/macro - and the interplay between them, the geocoding models the relevant geospatial data both diachronically and at different levels of granularity: country, city, administrative areas, down to the precise location on a street. Our early explorations using these tools have raised questions including the functions of gender, educational opportunity and ethnicity (the influence of first/second generation immigrant instrument makers) in determining success or failure in the outcomes of commercial activities in which they were involved. These provide novel insights into the historical social inequalities in a highly generative entrepreneurial sector.