The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0427 Tuesday, 8 March 2005
Date: Friday, 4 Mar 2005 14:09:48 -0600
Subject: 16.0410 Venetian Usury
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0410 Venetian Usury
Old Ez made a lot of mistakes, but this time the mistake was mine. I
typed 16th century when I meant 15th. A second, less financially astute
Cosimo de Medici, Duke of Florence and Tuscany, lived from 1519-1574,
but he's not who I was referring to. Apologies to one and all.
>"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."
>This did not square with my memories of Renaissance history, so I
>checked and indeed Cosimo died in 1464. Whether this lapse occurred in
>Pound or in the typing of the letter, it is important to keep these
>Medicis straight since there were such a flaming lot of them. In any
>case, Pound seems to be dead wrong, for surely it was the rapid
>expansion of trade-especially in money-that paid for the amazing
>outpouring of Renaissance art, starting in Italy, moving to their main
>trading partners in Flanders and its environs, and then spreading to the
>rest of Europe.
>(Also, the Knights Templar were involved in this business before the
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