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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Venetian Usury
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0427  Tuesday, 8 March 2005

From:           Bruce Richman <
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 >
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.

D Bloom <
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 >

 >Bruce Richman:
 >
 >"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
 >Florentines.)

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