R03e_Medieval European Jews and Muslims
Note: This document should be read and analyzed in conjunction with R03e_Jean Venette and The Black Death. Mr.V has edited the document for clarity and brevity.
Many of Europe’s Jews lived in the growing towns. Because Jews were forbidden to hold land, they had never been part of the feudal system. Jews were also barred from many businesses, and so, they often did work that Christians could not or would not do. Being literate, Jews sometimes worked as business managers for large landholders. The Church forbade Christians to lend money at interest, yet many people still needed to borrow money. As a result, some Jews became moneylenders. From here, it was a short step to all types of banking. When trade began to revive in the later Middle Ages, Jews were often active in long distance trade. Jewish communities in different cities had the links necessary to arrange credit and transfer of money.
Expelling the Jews and Muslims made Spain a religiously united nation, but it hurt the country economically. Many of Spain’s leaders in business and trade had been Muslims or Jews.