Understanding The Merchant of Venice: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

By Jay L. Halio | Go to book overview

3
Attitudes Toward Jews

After the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in the first century of the common era and the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews were dispersed throughout the world. Many settled in Europe, North Africa, or elsewhere in the Middle East, though a small remnant remained in what is now Israel. During the first millennium, despite minor outbreaks of violence, Jews generally got along with their neighbors while clinging fast to their own religion and refusing to convert. As Christianity rose and became dominant in Europe, followed by Islam in the Middle East and Africa, Jews continued to live more or less in peace--despite the hostility of the church--until the time of the First Crusade ( 1095-99). The fervor against infidels that the crusades inspired also provoked an often ferocious anti-Semitism, which led to the destruction of many Jewish communities. The rape, murder, and pillaging of bands of "poor men," led by fanatical priests, became sporadic and widespread across Europe, culminating in the pogroms (massacres) of later centuries and ultimately to the decimation of European Jews in the Holocaust in World War II.

Until 1290, when Edward I expelled all Jews from England, communities of Jewish merchants, craftsmen, and others lived in various parts of the kingdom. As elsewhere in Europe, they were considered aliens and depended on rulers for protection and such

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Understanding The Merchant of Venice: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1 - Literary and Dramatic Analysis 1
  • Conclusion 19
  • 2 - Venice and Its Treatment of Jews 23
  • 3 - Attitudes toward Jews 47
  • 5 - Elizabethan Marriage 93
  • 6 - Usury, Interest, and the Rise of Capitalism 115
  • 7 - Contemporary Applications and Interpretation 141
  • Index 175
  • About the Author 182
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