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Debt and money-lending

Debt and money-lendingMedieval Christians were forbidden from lending money at interest, whereas Jews were free to make such loans.

The king and the barons depended on Jewish money-lenders because they needed financial credit, but the king also plundered Jewish wealth through punitive levies and the confiscation of property.

Since the Crown had the right to collect debts owed to Jews who had died, Jewish loans to the barons were often profitable for the king and financially painful for the barons. However, Magna Carta did not ban the reversion to the Crown of debts owed to Jews. It also implicitly allowed the seizure of property for the payment of debts, it did not prohibit imprisonment for debt and the the clause dealing with intestacy specifically preserved the rights of debtors. Instead Magna Carta merely set out principles for how debts should be collected and corrected two minor abuses. If the heir of a debt to a Jew was a minor, the debt could not accrue interest, and widows and minors were to be protected from excessive demands for repayment.


Knights in battle
Knights in battle