A Stake in the Ground: Jews and Property Investment in the Medieval Crown of Aragon


In A Stake in the Ground, Michael Schraer explores the economic functions of real estate amongst the Jews of the medieval crown of Aragon. He challenges the view of medieval Jews as primarily money-lenders and merchants, finding compelling evidence for extensive property trading and investment. Jews are found as landlords to Christian tenants, transferring land in dowries, wills and gifts. Property holdings were often extremely valuable. For some, property was a major part of their asset portfolios. Whilst many property transactions were linked to the credit boom, land also acted as a liquid and tradeable investment asset in its own right. This is a key contribution to the economic history of medieval Iberia and of medieval Jews.

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Michael Schraer, Ph.D. (2016), Cambridge, is an economist and economic historian researching Iberian Jews. He has published on the merchant, financier and rentier, Salamon Abnarrabi, and a chapter on Jewish mortgage lending in Briggs and Zuijderduijn (eds.), Land and Credit (2018).
List of Illustrations
Currencies, Land Areas and Weights and Measures

1 Introduction

Part 1: Jews as Property Investors: The Evidence

2 Property Rights
3 Jews in the Market for Land
4 Lords of the Land?
Jews as Rentiers and Cultivators
5 Dowries, Wills and Gifts
Property and the Transfer of Wealth
6 The Link between Credit and Land

Part 2: Property and the Jewish Economy

7 The Economic Case for Property
Asset Choices, Risk and Return
8 Credit and Property in the Wealth of the Jews
9 Postscript

Appendix 1: Currencies and Equivalences
Appendix 2: Land Areas, Weights and Measures in the Archival Sources
This book is aimed at post-graduate students and scholars with an interest in medieval economic and financial history in general and Iberia and its Jewish communities in particular.
Index Card