© 2017

The Myth of the Medieval Jewish Moneylender

Volume I


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Julie L. Mell
    Pages 1-27
  3. Modern History and Medieval Narratives

  4. Some Facts: Merry Old England

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 317-336

About this book


This book challenges a common historical narrative, which portrays medieval Jews as moneylenders who filled an essential economic role in Europe. It traces how and why this narrative was constructed as a philosemitic narrative in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in response to the rise of political antisemitism. This book also documents why it is a myth for medieval Europe, and illuminates how changes in Jewish history change our understanding of European history.  Each chapter offers a novel interpretation of central topics, such as the usury debate, commercial contracts, and moral literature on money and value to demonstrate how the revision of Jewish history leads to new insights in European history.


moneylending Jewish-Christian relations commercial revolution usury medieval history

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.North Carolina State UniversityDurhamUSA

About the authors

Julie Mell is an Assistant Professor of History and North Carolina State University.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Myth of the Medieval Jewish Moneylender
  • Book Subtitle Volume I
  • Authors Julie L. Mell
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-39776-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-67964-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-39778-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 336
  • Number of Illustrations 24 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Medieval Europe
    Labor History
    Social History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This book stimulates thought and reflection on the nature of the historical thinking and the need for critical thought. Students and researchers embarking on studies of medieval Ashkenazic Jewry or of modern images of the medieval Jewish past would be well advised to read this at an early stage of their work. It is brave, original, and enlightening.” (Shaul Stampfer, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 44 (4), 2018)