Meantime much evil arises from usury in the poorer districts.
They perform a useful function in protecting their clients from the cruel usury which prevails, especially in the south.
Laymen were punishable in the court Christian for the delits following: injury to sacred or religious places, sacrilege, heresy (except where it was a " royal case "), sorcery, magic, blasphemy (also punishable in the secular court), adultery, simony, usury and infractions of the truce of God (Fournier, pp. 90-93).
Restrictions on their occupations were everywhere common, and as the Church forbade Christians to engage in usury, this was the only trade open to the Jews.
It is not unlike the procedure of the canonists and casuists of the middle ages with regard to the doctrine of usury, by which the doctrine was to all appearances preserved intact while in reality it was stripped of all its original meaning by innumerable distinctions " over-curious and precise."
The enslavement of creditors, overwhelmed with usury in consequence of losses by hostile raids or their own absence on military service, led to the secession to the Mons Sacer (493 B.C.).
Of France extorted large sums from the Florentine merchants and bankers in his dominions by accusing them of usury; in 1 34 o plague and famine wrought terrible havoc in Florence, and riots again broke out between the grandi and the popolo, partly on account of the late unsuccessful wars and the unsatisfactory state of the finances.
But, as something can everywhere be made by the use of money, something ought everywhere to be paid for the use of it," and will in fact be paid for it; and the prohibition will only heighten the evil of usury by increasing the risk to the lender.
The natives are poor, owing chiefly to maladministration, the use of opium and the usury practised by foreigners (Chinese, Arabs, &c.).
In the United States of America the law relating to the lending of money on usury varies in the different states.
Some of the states have usury laws giving relief to borrowers in cases where circumstances have compelled them to agree to extortionate rates; but other states have no such laws, except that a contract in writing is invariably required in all cases where the "legal rate" is exceeded.
The Norman and Angevin kings were fully alive to the advantages which accrued to the people through borrowing at usury from the Jews, but they were also alive to the advantages which they themselves were able to reap by extorting from the Jews the wealth which the latter had acquired from the people.
Then followed a large number of statutes known generally as the Usury Laws (see also Usury).
The earlier ones in some cases prohibited the lending of money on usury at all, as in a statute of Jewry of the reign of Edward I.; but the later statutes were chiefly confined to limiting the rate of interest.
In 1818 a select committee of the House of Commons was appointed to consider the Usury Laws and in 1841 a similar committee of the House of Lords was appointed.
C. 90) whereby all the existing laws against usury were repealed.
For American law relating to Usury, see Stimson's American Statute Law, and the statutes of the various states.
In 1872 a correspondent had remonstrated with him in vain as to taking "usury," i.e.
Until quite recent times the term "usury" (Lat.
"Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury.
Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury, that the Lord thy God may bless thee" (Deut.
At the present day, "usury," if used in the old sense of the term, would embrace a multitude of modes of receiving interest upon capital to which not the slightest moral taint is attached.
The man who does not in some shape or other lend his capital upon "usury" is, in the modern world, generally considered as lacking in his duty to himself or his family.
The change in the moral attitude towards usury is perhaps best expressed by saying that in ancient times so much of the lending at interest was associated with cruelty and hardship that all lending was branded as immoral (or all interest was usury in the moral sense), whilst at present so little lending takes place, comparatively, except on commercial principles, that all lending is regarded as free from an immoral taint.
This change in the attitude of common-sense morality in respect to "anything that is lent upon usury" is one of the most peculiar and instructive features in the economic progress of society.
The conditions of ancient usury find a graphic illustration in the account of the building of the second temple at Jerusalem (Neh.
In ancient Greece we find similar examples of the evil effects of usury, and a law of bankruptcy resting on slavery.
Usury had given all the power of the state to a small plutocracy.
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the influence of usury on the social and economic history of the Roman republic. In the provinces the evils of the system reached a much greater height.
On the whole, it was truly said of usury during the republic and early years of the empire: "Sed vetus urbi faenebre malum et seditionum discordiarumque creberrima causa."
"Cicero mentions that Cato, being asked what he thought of usury, made no other answer to the question than by asking the person who spoke to him what he thought of murder."
It was only natural, considering the evils produced by usury in ancient Greece and Rome, that philosophers should have tried to give an a priori explanation of these abuses.
They held usury up to detestation, and practically made no distinction between interest on equitable moderate terms and what we now term usurious exactions.
1 The consequence of the condemnation of usury by the church was to throw all the dealing in money in the early middle ages into the hands of the Jews.
Without entering into technicalities, it may be said generally that an attempt was made to distinguish between usury, in the modern sense of unjust exaction, and interest on capital.
Unfortunately, however, the modifications 1 For a popular account of the reasons given in support of the canonical objections to usury, and of the modifications and exceptions admitted in some quarters, see W.
Against usury) the greatest part of the deeds now in use both in England and Scotland owe their original forms" (i.
In the limits assigned to this article it is impossible to enter further into the history of the question (see also Moneylending), but an attempt may be made to summarize the principal results so far as they bear upon the old controversy, which has again been revived in some quarters, as to the proper relation of law to usury and interest.
(1) The opinion of Bentham that the attempt directly to suppress usury (in the modern sense) will only increase the evil is abundantly verified.
In many places they have the monopoly of the wine and spirit shops, and retail trade generally; and as they are always willing to advance money on usury, and are more intelligent and better educated than the ordinary peasant, there is little doubt that in a country where the large landowners are proverbially extravagant, and the peasant proprietors needy, the soil would soon fall into the hands of the Jews were it not for the stringent laws which prevent them from owning land outside the towns.