Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire

Finley, Theresa and Koyama, Mark (2016): Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire.

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Abstract

This paper explores the institutional determinants of persecution by studying the intensity of the Black Death pogroms in the Holy Roman Empire. Political fragmentation exacerbated competition for the rents generated by Jewish moneylending. This competition made Jewish communities vulnerable during periods of crisis. We test this hypothesis using data on the intensity of pogroms. In line with our model, we find that communities governed by Archbishoprics, Bishoprics, and Imperial Free Cities experienced more intense and violent persecutions than did those governed by the emperor or by secular princes. We discuss the implications that this has for the enforcement of the rule of law in weak states.

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