Inspired by History of Mentalities and Conceptual History, the project investigates arguments for
and against usury in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. Supported by Le Goff and A. Murray
the project investigates the structural changes in western societies as well as the developments
within money and money making. Using the work of J. Noonan and L. Armstrong, the project
provides insight to the developments of scholastic arguments regarding usury. Using literature
intended for a broader crowd; the poem Piers Plowman, the Divine Comedy by Dante, and The
Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare the project provides an understanding of how usury
were understood and perceived by the common man. Lastly, the project reflect on how changes
in history occur, using both our own findings, history of mentalities, conceptual history,
materialistic history, as well as Weber’s ideas of the Spirit of Capitalism and the Protestant
Our research reveals, that developments within the money technology, such as bills of exchange,
the monetarisation of society, as well as the increasing need for capital, coincides with an
increase in acceptance of usury. At the same time, the increased need for the provision of rational
arguments in support of religious commands, was paramount in the development of the debate.
Whereas the church did not revise their condemnation of usury, the definition of usury changed
over the investigated period: From a biblical understanding of usury meaning ‘all interests’,
usury slowly changed to mean ‘interests that were too high’.
The research also reveals that the scholastic arguments can be traced in the investigated
literature, which provides evidence that the debate of usury, is conducted outside the literary
elite, in the culture in general.
|Uddannelser||Historie, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat|
|Udgivelsesdato||19 dec. 2016|