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 A word or 1718 from KillJockey 

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 A word or 1718 from KillJockey 
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Post A word or 1718 from KillJockey
"Hey everyone! I just want to mention a terrible source of history that is actually somewhat useful. Shakespeare. Many of you may have just rolled your eyes or some other dismissive gesture, but his works hold a very strange place as often being terribly historically inaccurate while being an important and useful tool to view the periods he writes about by.

Take for instance today when we were talking about the rise of the Merchant class and the creation of Jewish stereotypes as predatory bankers. The instructor went over some of it, starting with the concept of usury. "Thou shall not lend with usury to thy brother; usury of money or of grain, usury of any thing that is lent is unclean." - Deuteronomy. We talked about how there's not a lot of mercantile action going on, however, until surpluses start growing, towns start developing, and people are able to become more specialized in things other than farming. While there's kind of a religious ban on usury, official word doesn't come down against it until Charlemagne. Charlemagne, who is still having that power struggle with the church over who commands more authority, says that it is immoral and illegal to commit usury, which at the time means ANYTHING that is loaned with interest (usury laws still exist, but often are focused on EXCESSIVE). The Pope doesn't really seem to mind as Clergy were banned from the practice way back at the Council of Nicea. However it's still being practiced back in Constantinople. (Didn't think we'd forget about them, did you? All these different tensions are building up over the past near 1000 years to develop into the Great Schism, but that's a post for another time.) Back in Western Europe, this practice spreads with Christians. Now, it's not all even. Some say you can't do it at all if you're Christian, some say you can't do it to other Christians, some say you can't do it to other citizens, there's a lot of variation, but the general rule is usury is an anti-Christian practice.

This causes a dilemma. Royals like money. And they like the idea of basically getting money for free. Loans with interest carry risk but almost no cost. But they can't do it themselves, they're good Christian leaders! So they need a banking class. One that will dutifully carry out the task, pay taxes to the Lords and Royals on it all, and who can be thrown out if the need arises. Jews are a perfect target. They're already in a bad place, and their position is just made worse. They're not allowed to own land, they're not allowed to sell goods, they're not allowed to live or work in certain parts of town, they are legally bound to having just about two career paths: Rabbi or banker. So you get a lot of Jewish bankers.

This is where The Merchant of Venice starts. The titular character is a Good Christian Merchant* who is just trying to make an honest living doing the best he can. He is given some information on a fool-proof plan to get a lot of money very quickly and needs a loan to get it moving. He generously goes to a Jewish banker named Shylock and promises him well more than he asks now in return when his ships come in. Literally. The money is to fund a trading voyage. But then when there is a freak accident, a storm sinks all his ships, Shylock is unreasonable and asks for too much in return!
*The main character is only good to other Christians and at that mainly just his friends. He is known as so unreliable that no one else will loan him money. It is said in the play that he, well, here it is in Shylock's words:
Signor Antonio, many a time and oft

In the Rialto you have rated me

About my moneys and my usances.

Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,

For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.

You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,

And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine—

And all for use of that which is mine own.

Well then, it now appears you need my help.

Go to, then! You come to me and you say,

“Shylock, we would have moneys.” You say so!—

You, that did void your rheum upon my beard

And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur

Over your threshold! Moneys is your suit.

What should I say to you? Should I not say,

“Hath a dog money? Is it possible

A cur can lend three thousand ducats?”

In fact, everything "bad" that happens to Antonio during the play he was warned about or agreed to. The "unreasonable" payment for forfeiture of the loan is a pound of his flesh, which he agreed to give Shylock believing that his venture couldn't fail. He was warned by his best friend, from whom he first tried to gather the funds, not to put all his money in one place in case something went wrong. The reason he had to go to Shylock in the first place is that no one else would loan him money. Not the Christians, not the Jews, no one. In the end of the play, I hope this isn't a 418 year old spoiler, but Shylock, who takes Antonio to court over the debt, loses. Not only does he not get repaid the debt, all his wealth is taken from him, he is forced to convert to Christianity, and while not a decision of the court case his daughter takes the last of his possessions and runs off in the middle of the night.

The story says a lot. But how it is staged is also very, very important. Many modern versions show Shylock with nothing at the end. His daughter is gone, he is now shunned by the Jewish community because he's not Jewish anymore, he's forbidden from going to Jewish ceremonies or festivals, and shunned by the Christians because they don't really care about his religion, they care about who he was born as. My professor at my previous school told of one staging, I can't remember when it was but it was a long time ago, that was very controversial. On one side, it's a potential candidate for how it was first performed and speaks volumes about how Jews were viewed by most people, on the other hand it's horribly derogatory. Shylock's actor was dressed in a large red wig, pointy hat, large pointed prosthetic chin that nearly touched his large pointy prosthetic nose, and he delivered lines in a very exaggerated voice. This was the image of Jews on stage for a time. It was extreme.

At the same time, in real life, things got even worse. Remember how I said that they needed a group they could throw out if the need arose? Well, that's what they did. Time and time again. Jews would have no market they could work in but banking, so they would accumulate vast amounts of wealth. The nobles would tax that wealth, but when they needed an influx of funds or thought that the Jews were getting too powerful, they would declare them an enemy to the state and banish them. These Jewish bans could last for years. They were considered criminals, their estates and fortunes were seized, and they were kicked out. It was done in the name of religious purity. And the image that the public had been given of them, as practitioners of usury and as goblins and all other kinds of horrible things and the dehumanizing effect of having them separated into their own communities in towns and not letting them interact with everyone else, meant that there wasn't a big outcry against it. Bring up the rhetoric enough and people might even cheer on the move.

Shakespeare is a terrible source of history in a lot of ways. Caesar never said, "Et tu, Brute?" Richard the Third didn't have a hunched-back. Richard the Second... Actually Richard the Second did spend a lot of money on things he probably shouldn't have and had a lot of trouble fighting wars the nobles actually wanted, but the point is that overall, trying to read Shakespeare like a history book is one of the worst ideas any of us could have! And when I'm the one saying that, that's saying a lot because I have some really stupid ideas. But there's some astonishing context that can be gained. You get insight not into the events as they are taking place but at the mindset of the people. Shakespeare was a Londoner most of his life. His writing reflects that. It's not known that he ever met a Jewish person. I think my professor said one of the bans had just been lifted over the area not that long before hand, meaning there likely were some in the city during Shakespeare's life, but it's not that likely he bumped into them. So you get through his play, through the words written down and how it might have been performed, this view that at least one man had of the world around him, and in this case a very real cultural and religious divide. I recommend anyone who has the time (and if you've read all 1605 words of this post, you might have the time) to go and find a copy or see live a production of Merchant. When it's done right, it really is rather amazing. And pay close attention to who is portrayed as a villain.

I thank anyone who had the patience to do so for reading this. Always, always, always take what you are given with an appropriate amount of salt. In this case, quite a bit. I'm going off of three year old memories from a Shakespeare's Histories class. If you can't tell, however, I do find this topic fascinating so if you have anything that you find wrong with my post, please let me know. Publish it for all to see because I want that. I want to find dissenting opinions and sources that counter what I think I know so that I can learn new things. Thank you all again, and keep being great!"

This was what started out as a short post connecting Shakespeare to history and ended up being longer than my actual paper for the class is supposed to be (a short 1500 argument paper about the Investiture Controversy).

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Post Re: A word or 1718 from KillJockey
STONE COLD STEVE HANZO SEZ WUT

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Post Re: A word or 1718 from KillJockey
「H A N Z O」 wrote:
STONE COLD STEVE HANZO SEZ WUT


HANZO, YOU KILLED STONE COLD STEVE TOO!?!!

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Post Re: A word or 1718 from KillJockey
YomToxic wrote:
「H A N Z O」 wrote:
STONE COLD STEVE HANZO SEZ WUT


HANZO, YOU KILLED STONE COLD STEVE TOO!?!!


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Post Re: A word or 1718 from KillJockey
Okay, a who's the bad guy politics story from Shakespeare. His story a bit bias, he's human, just like you. Well, I really can't say you ought to justify Azraelian crusaders. Whether or not the excuse abuse keeps up, they will attempt coups and subversions for their fallen prophecies to wage a number against worldly odds. I don't care, you edging towards the divine curse of David/Solomon.

Yeah, I think that most schools are acursed by Azraelian crusaders. They shall misled to forever destroy, to torture all that is not turned to ashes or smoke. Feel the wrath and rapture!

I know that this thesis is just a literary critique of things, but sometimes, you got go analytical critical when things go shit hits the fan critical.

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Post Re: A word or 1718 from KillJockey
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