The Economic History of European Jews

Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages


The Economic History of European Jews attempts to make sense of the economic foundations of Jewish life in the different parts of late antique and early medieval Europe. In the first part Michael Toch describes the demographic arc, decline, subsequent rise, and spatial distribution of Jewish populations. This data is then broadened to include the range of economic activities. The second part analyses the actual share of Jews in different branches of the economy. This includes the idea of their pioneer role and the notion of an intercontinental network of Jewish commerce, the phenomenon of Jews in agriculture and entrepreneurship, gender roles and the household mode of production, and the difficult subject of the significance of minority status for economic activity, among other subjects.

"This is the most up-to-date scholarly reassessment of a century of both overly optimistic and occasionally negative interpretations of Jewish population and economic activities, a boon to students and researchers of the first millennium of the Jewish experience in Europe, and an interesting read for the general public."
S. Bowman, University of Cincinnati

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Michael Toch, Ph.D. (1978, Erlangen University), is Professor of Medieval History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published monographs, source editions and many articles on the German urban classes, the German and European peasantry, and German and European Jews.
Part I: Stocktaking: Regional Populations and Livelihoods
Chapter 1. Byzantium
Chapter 2. Italy
Chapter 3. Gaul, the Lands of the Franks, France and Germany
Chapter 4. The Iberian Peninsula
Chapter 5. Eastern Europe
Part II: Economic Functions and Significance
Chapter 6. Jews, Commerce and Money
Chapter 7. Landholding, Crafts, Enterprises, Medicine, and the Internal Jewish Economy
Chapter 8. Historical Conclusions
Appendix 1: Places of Jewish Settlement in the Byzantine Empire
Appendix 2: Places of Jewish Settlement in Italy
Appendix 3: Places of Jewish Settlement in France and Germany
Appendix 4: Places of Jewish Settlement in Iberia
Scholars, students and educated laypeople interested in economic history and the history of the Jews.
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