The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0368 Wednesday, 23 February 2005
Date: Tuesday, 22 Feb 2005 16:44:26 -0600
Subject: 16.0350 Venetian Usury
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0350 Venetian Usury
Ezra Pound's Cantos XXV and XXVI address the debasement of art and
culture in 16th century Venice by usury and manipulations of credit.
Although Pound is well-known to have vilified Jews as usurers, the
usurious practices in the Venetian Cantos are not those of small-time
businessmen like Shylock, but of major institutional players like the
Florentine Cosimo de Medici, who routinely did business in Venice
("almost as a Venetian to Venice" Canto XXVI) and manipulated the money
supply throughout Europe by calling in international debts that couldn't
be paid. Florence was the banking capital, but Venice was the center of
brokerage, and lending money at high interest to governments and
nobility was a regular activity among wealthy and influential Christians.
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