I hope that I have represented the early modern debate around usury in a reasonably faithful manner, and I think I have mentioned all of the major arguments and the most prominent strands of imagery through which the people of the English Renaissance attempted to make sense of this phenomenon. Having completed this brief survey of the usury literature, it may be time to essay a definition. I believe that, broadly speaking and with numerous caveats, when the people of Renaissance England spoke of “usury” they meant what the postmodern world calls “capitalism.” That fact has only become apparent over the last four or five decades, as capitalism has changed from an industrial to a financial form. But I think we can now recognize in the machinations of abstract, global capital the same characteristics and tendencies that were exhibited in germinal, microcosmic form on the streets of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century London. It is surely at least worth asking whether and how the criticisms of usury made by the texts studied here might be applied to the postmodern condition.


Global Capital Human Psyche Socialist Revolution Persuasive Argument Legal Sanction 
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© David Hawkes 2010

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