Moneylending is the practice of offering loans to an individual, which must be repaid with interest; in the Middle Ages it was often called by an older name, “usury,” which came to imply the charging of excessively high interest rates. Although moneylending was necessary throughout the Middle Ages to finance building projects, wars, and other activities, and to underwrite the expansion of trade and the merchant class, the charging of interest was also considered an abusive practice. Thus, moneylenders were frequent targets of social and literary attack, and moneylending was usually practiced by specific and often marginalized groups of people, such as Jews. Jewish moneylenders were often permitted to live in European countries only as long as their services were helpful to their surrounding community or local prince, and they were vulnerable to racist attacks and expulsions.
Moneylending/Usury Term Timeline in The Decameron
The timeline below shows where the term Moneylending/Usury appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 1: First Tale
Day 1: Second Tale
Neifile’s tale concerns Jehannot de Chevigny, a Parisian merchant, and his friend, a Jewish moneylender called Abraham. Jehannot worries that upright and honest Abraham will be dammed for his incorrect... (full context)