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Of Usury, from Brant's Stultifera Navis (the Ship of Fools); woodcut attributed to Albrecht Dürer
Of Usury, from Brant's Stultifera Navis (the Ship of Fools); woodcut attributed to Albrecht Dürer

Usury (/'juʒ(ə)ɹi/,comes from the Medieval Latin usuria, "interest" or "excessive interest", from the Latin usura "interest") originally meant the charging of interest on loans. This would have included charging a fee for the use of money, such as at a bureau de change. After countries legislated to limit the rate of interest on loans, usury came to mean the interest above the lawful rate. In common usage today, the word means the charging of unreasonable or relatively high rates of interest. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links UsuryDurer. ... Image File history File links UsuryDurer. ... A portrait of Sebastian Brant Sebastian Brant (also Brandt) (1457 – May 10, 1521), German humanist and satirist, was born in Strasbourg. ... Title page of a 1549 edition of Ship of Fools Ship of Fools is a satire published 1494 in Basel, Switzerland, by Sebastian Brant, a conservative German theologian. ... Four horsemen of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Dürer Ukiyo-e woodcut, Ishiyama Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1889) Woodcut is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface... Albrecht Dürer (pronounced /al. ... Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. ... For other senses of this word, see interest (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Loan (disambiguation). ... A bureau de change is an organisation or facility which allows customers to exchange one currency for another. ...

The pivotal change in the English-speaking world seems to have come with the permission to charge interest on lent money: particularly the Act 'In restraint of usury' of Henry VIII in England in 1545 (see book references). Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (later King of Ireland) from 22 April 1509 until his death. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... Events February 27 - Battle of Ancrum Moor - Scots victory over superior English forces December 13 - Official opening of the Council of Trent (closed 1563) Battle of Kawagoe - between two branches of Uesugi families and the late Hojo clan in Japan. ...


Historical meaning

The Christian Church's position on usury began with the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which forbade clergy from engaging in usury.[1] (canon 17) At the time "usury" meant simply interest of any kind, and the canon merely forbade the clergy to lend money on interest. Later ecumenical councils applied this regulation to the laity.[2][1] Roman sculpture showing moneychanger from 4th century BC The history of banking is closely related to the history of money. ... This history is partially outdated for developments in the 20th century To trace the history of pawnbroking, we must go back to the earliest ages of the world, since lending money on portable security (see money and usury) is one of the most ancient of human occupations. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Athanasius · Augustine · Constantine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas Arminius · Calvin · Luther · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box... The First Council of Nicaea, held in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, was the first Ecumenical council[1] of the early Christian Church, and most significantly resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. ... Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. ... For other senses of this word, see interest (disambiguation). ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Athanasius · Augustine · Constantine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas Calvin · Luther · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      An... In religious organizations, the laity comprises all lay persons collectively. ...

Lateran III decreed that persons who accepted interest on loans could receive neither the sacraments nor Christian burial.[3] Pope Clement V made the belief in the right to usury heresy in 1311, and abolished all secular legislation which allowed it.[4] Pope Sixtus V condemned the practice of charging interest as "detestable to God and man, damned by the sacred canons and contrary to Christian charity."[4] The Third Council of the Lateran met in March, 1179 as the 11th ecumenical council. ... In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ... Clement V, born Bertrand de Goth (also occasionally spelled Gouth and Got) (1264 – April 20, 1314), was Pope from 1305 to his death. ... For other uses, see Heresy (disambiguation). ... Events Bolingbroke Castle passes to the House of Lancaster. ... Pope Sixtus V (December 13, 1521 – August 27, 1590), born Felice Peretti, was Pope from 1585 to 1590. ...

Theological historian John Noonan argues that "the doctrine [of usury] was enunciated by popes, expressed by three ecumenical councils, proclaimed by bishops, and taught unanimously by theologians."[2]

The historical rendition of usury as a vile enterprise stems not only from a spiritual view that charging exorbitant interest is a flagrant manifestation of unchecked greed, but carries with it social connotations of perceived "unjust" or "discriminatory" moneylending practices. This is well explained by the historian Paul Johnson, who believes: Paul Johnson (born Paul Bede Johnson on 2 November 1928 in Manchester, England) is a British Roman Catholic journalist, historian, speechwriter and author. ...

Most early religious systems in the ancient Near East, and the secular codes arising from them, did not forbid usury. These societies regarded inanimate matter as alive, like plants, animals and people, and capable of reproducing itself. Hence if you lent 'food money', or monetary tokens of any kind, it was legitimate to charge interest.[5] Food money in the shape of olives, dates, seeds or animals was lent out as early as c. 5000 BC, if not earlier. ... Among the Mesopotamians, Hittites, Phoenicians and Egyptians, interest was legal and often fixed by the state. But the Jews took a different view of the matter.[6] A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... Mesopotamia was a cradle of civilization geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq. ... Relief of Suppiluliuma II, last known king of the Hittite Empire The Hittites were an ancient people from Kaneš who spoke an Indo-European language, and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa (Hittite URU) in north-central Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite... Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in the north of ancient Canaan, with its heartland along the coastal plain of what is now Lebanon and Syria. ...

The Hebrew Bible regulates interest taking, but interpretations of the Biblical prohibition vary. One common understanding is that Israelites are forbidden to charge interest upon loans made to other Israelites, but allowed to charge interest on transactions with non-Israelites. However, the Hebrew Bible itself gives numerous examples where this provision was evaded.[7] This article is about the term Hebrew Bible. For the Jewish scriptures see Tanakh. ...

Johnson holds that the Hebrew Bible treats the lending as philanthropy in a poor community whose aim was collective survival, but which is not obliged to be charitable towards outsiders. Philanthropy is the act of donating money, goods, time, or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective. ...

A great deal of Jewish legal scholarship in the Dark and the Middle Ages was devoted to making business dealings fair, honest and efficient. One of the great problems was usury, or rather lending money at interest. This was a problem the Jews had created for themselves, and for the two great religions which spring from Hebrewism. [8]

Usury (in the original sense of any interest) was denounced by a number of spiritual leaders and philosophers of ancient times, including Plato, Aristotle, Cato, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, Aquinas, Muhammad, Moses, Philo and Gautama Buddha. For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... Marcus Porcius Cato (Latin: M·PORCIVS·M·F·CATO[1]) (234 BC, Tusculum–149 BC) was a Roman statesman, surnamed the Censor (Censorius), Sapiens, Priscus, or the Elder (Major), to distinguish him from Cato the Younger (his great-grandson). ... For other uses, see Cicero (disambiguation). ... Bust, traditionally thought to be Seneca, now identified by some as Hesiod. ... Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - March 7, 1274) was a Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, who gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Muhammad in a new genre of Islamic calligraphy started in the 17th century by Hafiz Osman. ... Moses with the Tablets, 1659, by Rembrandt This article is about the Biblical figure. ... Philo (20 BC - 50 AD), known also as Philo of Alexandria and as Philo Judaeus And as Yedidia, was a Hellenized Jewish philosopher born in Alexandria, Egypt. ... Siddhartha and Gautama redirect here. ...

For example, Cato in his De Re Rustica said: Marcus Porcius Cato (Latin: M·PORCIVS·M·F·CATO[1]) (234 BC, Tusculum–149 BC) was a Roman statesman, surnamed the Censor (Censorius), Sapiens, Priscus, or the Elder (Major), to distinguish him from Cato the Younger (his great-grandson). ...

"And what do you think of usury?" - "What do you think of murder?"

Interest of any kind is forbidden in Islam. As such, specialized codes of banking have developed to cater to investors wishing to obey Qur'anic law. (See Islamic banking) For people named Islam, see Islam (name). ... Shariah (Arabic: transliteration: ) is the body of Islamic religious law. ... Islamic banking refers to a system of banking or banking activity that is consistent with Islamic law (Sharia) principles and guided by Islamic economics. ...

As the Jews were ostracized from most professions by local rulers, the church and the guilds, they were pushed into marginal occupations considered socially inferior, such as tax and rent collecting and moneylending. This was said to show Jews were insolent, greedy usurers. Natural tensions between creditors and debtors were added to social, political, religious, and economic strains. A guild is an association of craftspeople in a particular trade. ... “Taxes” redirects here. ... Rent can refer to: Renting, a system of payment for the temporary use of something owned by someone else. ...

... financial oppression of Jews tended to occur in areas where they were most disliked, and if Jews reacted by concentrating on moneylending to non-Jews, the unpopularity - and so, of course, the pressure - would increase. Thus the Jews became an element in a vicious circle. The Christians, on the basis of the Biblical rulings, condemned interest-taking absolutely, and from 1179 those who practised it were excommunicated. But the Christians also imposed the harshest financial burdens on the Jews. The Jews reacted by engaging in the one business where Christian laws actually discriminated in their favour, and so became identified with the hated trade of moneylending.[9] Events Third Council of the Lateran condemned Waldensians and Cathars as heretics, institutes a reformation of clerical life, and creates the first ghettos for Jews Afonso I is recognized as the true King of Portugal by Portugal the protection of the Catholic Church against the Castillian monarchy Philip II is... Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ...

Peasants who were forced to pay their taxes to Jews could personify them as the people taking their earnings while remaining loyal to the lords on whose behalf the Jews worked. Non-Jewish debtors may have been quick to lay charges of usury against Jewish moneylenders charging even nominal interest or fees. Thus, historically attacks on usury have often been linked to antisemitism. According to Walter Laqueur, Antisemitism (alternatively spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism, also known as judeophobia) is prejudice and hostility toward Jews as a religious, racial, or ethnic group. ... Walter Laqueur (born 1921) is an American historian and political commentator. ...

"The issue at stake was not really whether the Jews had entered it out of greed (as antisemites claimed) or because most other professions were barred to them... In countries where other professions were open to them, such as Muslim Spain and the Ottoman empire, one finds more Jewish blacksmiths than Jewish money lenders. The high tide of Jewish usury was before the fifteenth century; as cities grew in power and affluence, the Jews were squeezed out from money lending with the development of banking."[10] Ottoman redirects here. ... Roman sculpture showing moneychanger from 4th century BC The history of banking is closely related to the history of money. ...

In England, the departing Crusaders were joined by crowds of debtors in the massacres of Jews at London and York in 1189-1190. In 1275, Edward I of England passed the Statute of Jewry which made usury illegal and linked it to blasphemy, in order to seize the assets of the violators. Scores of English Jews were arrested, 300 hanged and their property went to the Crown. In 1290, all Jews were expelled from England, allowed to take only what they could carry, the rest of their property became the Crown's. The usury was cited as the official reason for the Edict of Expulsion. The Crusaders (formerly the Canterbury Crusaders) are a New Zealand Rugby Union team based in Christchurch, New Zealand that competes in the Super 14 (formerly the Super 12). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... // April 22 - The first of the Statutes of Westminster are passed by the English parliament, establishing a series of laws in its 51 clauses, including equal treatment of rich and poor, free and fair elections, and definition of bailable and non-bailable offenses. ... Edward I (17 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), popularly known as Longshanks[1], also as Edward the Lawgiver or the English Justinian because of his legal reforms, and as Hammer of the Scots,[2] achieved fame as the monarch who conquered Wales and tried to do the same to Scotland. ... The Statute of Jewry was a statute issued by Edward I of England in 1290 ending the usury by Jews in England. ... For the black metal band, see Blasphemy (band). ... This article refers to the Commonwealths concept of the monarchys legal authority. ... // March 1 - The University of Coimbra is founded in Lisbon, Portugal by King Denis of Portugal; it moves to Coimbra in 1308. ... In 1290, King Edward I issued an edict ordering all Jews expelled from England. ...

The growth of the Lombard banking and pawnbrokers, who moved from city to city along the pilgrim routes, was important for the development of trade and commerce. Laqueur continues: The Moneychanger by Rembrandt, 1627 For other uses, see Lombard. ... This article is about the occupation of a pawnbroker. ... Monument to pilgrims in Burgos, Spain This article is on religious pilgrims. ...

"Following centuries of church condemnations of Jewish usury, the Jews were expelled from many countries and regions, their communities were impoverished, and very few individuals had the necessary capital to engage in money lending. Money lending continued, of course, and the Lombards took 250 percent interest (this, however, did not cause a wave of anti-Lombardism)."[10]

In the 16th century, short-term interest rates dropped dramatically (from around 20-30% p.a. to around 9-10% p.a.). This was caused by refined commercial techniques, increased capital availability, the Reformation, and other reasons. The lower rates weakened religious scruples about lending at interest, although the debates did not abate altogether. The Protestant Reformation was a movement which began in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church, but ended in division and the establishment of new institutions, most importantly Lutheranism, Reformed churches, and Anabaptists. ...

In 1745, the Catholic teaching on usury was expressed by Pope Benedict XIV in his encyclical Vix Pervenit, which strictly forbids charging interest on loans, although he adds that "entirely just and legitimate reasons arise to demand something over and above the amount due on the contract" through separate, parallel contracts. Benedict XIV, born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini (Bologna, March 31, 1675 – May 3, 1758 in Rome), was Pope from 17 August 1740 to 3 May 1758. ... Pope Benedict XIV promulgated Vix Pervenit in 1745. ...

Usury within religious texts

Hebrew Bible

The following quotations are from the Hebrew Bible, 1917 Jewish Publication Society translation: This article is about the term Hebrew Bible. For the Jewish scriptures see Tanakh. ... Jewish English Bible translations are modern English Bible translations that include the books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) according to the masoretic text, and according to the traditional division and order of Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim. ...

If thou lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest. (Exodus, 22:24 [11])

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and his means fail with thee; then thou shalt uphold him: as a stranger and a settler shall he live with thee. Take thou no interest of him or increase; but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, nor give him thy victuals for increase. (Leviticus, 25:35-37)

Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother: interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest. Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. (Deuteronomy, 23:20-21)

Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying: 'Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD; and the creditor is come to take unto him my two children to be bondmen.' (Kings 4:1)

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have not lent, neither have men lent to me; yet every one of them doth curse me. (Jeremiah 15:10)

he that hath not given forth upon interest, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true justice between man and man, hath walked in My statutes, and hath kept Mine ordinances, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD. [...] [And he that] hath given forth upon interest, and hath taken increase; shall he then live? he shall not live--he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely be put to death, his blood shall be upon him. [...] [And he] that hath withdrawn his hand from the poor, that hath not received interest nor increase, hath executed Mine ordinances, hath walked in My statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 18:8-9, 13, 17)

In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken interest and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by oppression, and hast forgotten Me, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 22:12)

Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said unto them: 'Ye lend upon pledge, every one to his brother.' And I held a great assembly against them. [...] And I likewise, my brethren and my servants, have lent them money and corn. I pray you, let us leave off this exaction. (Nehemiah 5:7, 10)

He that putteth not out his money on interest, nor taketh a bribe against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 15:5)

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

He that augmenteth his substance by interest and increase, gathereth it for him that is gracious to the poor. (Proverbs 28:8)

Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ...

New Testament

Two parables in the New Testament deal with "usury." Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... This article is about the Christian scriptures. ...

"Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?" -Luke 19:23

To the bankers and money changers. Usury or loaning money at interest is strictly forbidden by the Bible, Exodus 22:25-27 and Deut 23:19-20.

"This servant had already told two lines. First he said the master was an austere or harsh man. Next he called his master a thief because he reaped where he did not sow. Finally the master said to him "why did you not loan the money out at interest...so I could collect it and the interest." -Luke 19:11-19:27

The above parable is like that of the talents, Mattew 25:14-25:30. Those that are wealthy shall have more and those with little with have that taken from them. The master "reap where I does not sow harvests where I do now scatter". This is equivalent to taking what is not his (stealing). Usury is also identified here with the sin of greed.


Main article: Riba

The following quotations are from the Qur'an: Riba is the (Arabic: ربا ) term for intrest, the charging of which is forbidden by the Quran here, among other places: And that which you give in gift (loan) (to others), in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting to get a better one in return) from other... The Qur’ān [1] (Arabic: , literally the recitation; also sometimes transliterated as Quran, Koran, or Al-Quran) is the central religious text of Islam. ...

Those who charge usury are in the same position as those controlled by the devil's influence. This is because they claim that usury is the same as commerce. However, God permits commerce, and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord, and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his judgment rests with God. As for those who persist in usury, they incur Hell, wherein they abide forever (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

God condemns usury, and blesses charities. God dislikes every disbeliever, guilty. Lo! those who believe and do good works and establish worship and pay the poor-due, their reward is with their Lord and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. O you who believe, you shall observe God and refrain from all kinds of usury, if you are believers. If you do not, then expect a war from God and His messenger. But if you repent, you may keep your capitals, without inflicting injustice, or incurring injustice. If the debtor is unable to pay, wait for a better time. If you give up the loan as a charity, it would be better for you, if you only knew. (Al-Baqarah 2:276-280)

O you who believe, you shall not take usury, compounded over and over. Observe God, that you may succeed. (Al-'Imran 3:130)

And for practicing usury, which was forbidden, and for consuming the people's money illicitly. We have prepared for the disbelievers among them painful retribution. (Al-Nisa 4:161)

The usury that is practiced to increase some people's wealth, does not gain anything at God. But if people give to charity, seeking God's pleasure, these are the ones who receive their reward many fold. (Ar-Rum 30:39)

Usury in scholastic theology

The first of the scholastics, Saint Anselm of Canterbury, led the shift in thought that labeled charging interest the same as theft. Previously usury was seen as a lack of charity. Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033 or 1034 – April 21, 1109) was an Italian medieval philosopher and theologian, who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. ...

St. Thomas Aquinas, the leading theologian of the Catholic Church, argued charging of interest is wrong because it amounts to "double charging", charging for both the thing and the use of the thing. Aquinas said this would be morally wrong in the same way as if one sold a bottle of wine, charged for the bottle of wine, and then charged for the person using the wine to actually drink it. Similarly, one cannot charge for a piece of cake and for the eating of the piece of cake. Yet this, said Aquinas, is what usury does. Money is exchange-medium. It is used up when it is spent. To charge for the money and for its use (by spending) is to charge for the money twice. It is also to sell time since the usurer charges, in effect, for the time that the money is in the hands of the borrower. Time, however, is not a commodity that anyone can sell. (For a detailed discussion of Aquinas and usury, go to Thought of Thomas Aquinas Part I). Aquinas redirects here. ... This article contains selected thoughts of Thomas Aquinas on various topics. ...

This did not, as some think, prevent investment. What it stipulated was that in order for the investor to share in the profit he must share the risk. In short he must be a joint-venturer. Simply to invest the money and expect it to be returned regardless of the success of the venture was to make money simply by having money and not by taking any risk or by doing any work or by any effort or sacrifice at all. This is usury. St Thomas quotes Aristotle as saying that "to live by usury is exceedingly unnatural". Islam likewise condemns usury. Judaism condemns it save when practised against non-Jews. St Thomas allows, however, charges for actual services provided. Thus a banker or credit-lender could charge for such actual work or effort as he did carry out e.g. any fair administrative charges. The Catholic Church, in a decree of the Fifth Council of the Lateran, expressly allowed such charges in respect of credit-unions run for the benefit of the poor known as "montes pietatis".[12] When elected pope, Julius II promised under oath that he would soon convoke a general council. ... Mont de Piété (also Monti di pietà, montes pietatis) is an institution to lend money to the poor at little or no interest, first established in the 15th century, a time when lending to the poor was as much a work of mercy as giving to them. ...

In the 13th century Cardinal Hostiensis enumerated thirteen situations in which charging interest was not immoral.[13] The most important of these was lucrum cessans (profits given up) which allowed for the lender to charge interest "to compensate him for profit foregone in investing the money himself." (Rothbard 1995, p. 46) This idea is very similar to Opportunity Cost. Many scholastic thinkers who argued for a ban on interest charges also argued for the legitimacy of lucrum cessans profits (e.g. Pierre Jean Olivi and St. Bernardino of Siena). (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... Henry of Segusio, usually called Hostiensis, (died 25 October 1271) was an Italian canonist of the thirteenth century, born at Susa (Segusio), in the ancient Diocese of Turin. ... Opportunity cost is a central concept of microeconomics. ... Peter John Olivi, or in his native French Pierre Jean Olivi, (1248 - March 14, 1298) was a Franciscan theologian who, although he died professing the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, became a controversial figure in the arguments surrounding poverty at the beginning of the fourteenth century. ... Saint Bernardino of Siena (sometimes Bernardine, September 8, 1380 – May 20, 1444) was an Italian preacher, Franciscan missionary and Christian saint. ...

Usury in literature

In The Divine Comedy Dante places the usurers in the inner ring of the seventh circle of hell, below even suicides. (Showing how cultural attitudes have changed since the 14th century, the usurers' ring was shared only by the blasphemers and sodomites.) For other uses see The Divine Comedy (disambiguation), Dantes Inferno (disambiguation), and The Inferno (disambiguation) Dante shown holding a copy of The Divine Comedy, next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above, in Michelino... Dante redirects here. ... This 14th-century statue from south India depicts the gods Shiva (on the left) and Uma (on the right). ... For the black metal band, see Blasphemy (band). ... François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from Le pot pourri de Loth (1781). ...

In the 16th century it was necessary for Shylock to convert to Christianity and forsake usury before he could be redeemed in the climax of The Merchant of Venice. Thomas Lodge's didactic tirade against London moneylenders, An Alarum against Usurers containing tried experiences against worldly abuses tried to incite the educated class against the harm usurers seemed to induce in their victims. (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... Shylock After the Trial by John Gilbert (late 19th century) Shylock is a central character in Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice who famously demanded a pound of flesh from the title character. ... Title page of the first quarto (1600) The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1596 and 1598. ... Thomas Lodge (c. ... Moneylending is a trade in which money is lent to individuals and corporations. ...

By the 18th Century usury was more often treated as a metaphor than a crime in itself, so that Jeremy Bentham's Defense of Usury was not as shocking as it would have appeared two centuries earlier. (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Jeremy Bentham (IPA: ) (26 February [O.S. 15 February 15] 1748) – June 6, 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. ...

In the early 20th century Ezra Pound's anti-usury poetry was not primarily based on the moral injustice of interest but on the fact that excess capital was no longer devoted to artistic patronage, as it could now be used for capitalist business investment. ([1]). (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... Ezra Pound in 1913. ... Ezra Pound in 1913 The Cantos by Ezra Pound is a long, incomplete poem in 120 sections, each of which is a canto. ... Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) is an ethical theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. ... ... In economics, a capitalist is someone who owns capital, presumably within the economic system of capitalism. ...

Usury and the law

"When money is lent on a contract to receive not only the principal sum again, but also an increase by way of compensation for the use, the increase is called interest by those who think it lawful, and usury by those who do not." (Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, p. 1336).

In the United States, usury laws are state laws that specify the maximum legal interest rate at which loans can be made. Congress has opted not to regulate interest rates on purely private transactions, although it arguably has the power to do so under the interstate commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution. An interest rate is the price a borrower pays for the use of money he does not own, and the return a lender receives for deferring his consumption, by lending to the borrower. ... Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, known as the Commerce Clause, states that Congress has the exclusive authority to manage trade activities between the states and with foreign nations and Indian tribes. ...

Congress has opted to put a federal criminal limit on interest rates by the RICO definitions of "unlawful debt" which make it a federal felony to lend money at an interest rate more than two times the local state usury rate and then try to collect that "unlawful debt".[14]

It is a federal offense to use violence or threats to collect usurious interest (or any other sort). Such activity is referred to as loan sharking, although that term is also applied to non-coercive usurious lending, or even to the practice of making consumer loans without a license in jurisdictions that require licenses. A loan shark is a person or body that offers illegal unsecured loans at high interest rates to individuals, often backed by blackmail or threats of violence. ...

Usury and royalties

Royalties are contractual obligations of the Issuer of the royalty, made for the benefit of the holder of the royalty. Royalties require the payment of an agreed percentage of revenue of the Issuer, for an agreed period of time. In the event a royalty is purchased from an Issuer, the future revenue upon which the royalty is based is unknown at the time of the original transaction. Therefore, the cumulative amount of the future royalty payments is also an unknown. Royalty payments are not interest and royalties expire without value at their maturity. To be usurious payments made and received for the use of funds must be considered interest for loaned funds which require repayment at the maturity of the loan.

Usury rates in the United States

Each U.S. state has its own statute which dictates how much interest can be charged before it is considered usurious or unlawful. For other uses of terms redirecting here, see US (disambiguation), USA (disambiguation), and United States (disambiguation) Motto In God We Trust(since 1956) (From Many, One; Latin, traditional) Anthem The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington, D.C. Largest city New York City National language English (de facto)1 Demonym American... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  US Government Portal      A U.S. state is any one of the fifty subnational entities of... The Statute of Grand Duchy of Lithuania A statute is a formal, written law of a country or state, written and enacted by its legislative authority, perhaps to then be ratified by the highest executive in the government, and finally published. ...

If a lender charges above the lawful interest rate, a court will not allow the lender to sue to recover the debt because the interest rate was illegal anyway. In some states (such as New York) such loans are voided, meaning made void from the beginning or ab initio. Ref NY Gen Oblig 5-501 et seq. and NY 1503. This article is about the state. ...

However, there are separate rules applied to most banks. In 1980, due to inflation, national banks (banks that generally include N.A. in their name), federally chartered savings banks, installment plan sellers and chartered loan companies were exempted from state usury limits by the federal government through a special law. This effectively overrode all state and local usury laws. Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ...

Reference: Interest rate usury limits for U.S. states: Usury rate limits.

Ethical arguments for and against usury

Image File history File links Question_book-3. ...

Freedom of trade

The primary ethical argument in defense of usury has been the argument of liberty against the "restraint of trade" since the borrower has voluntarily entered into the usury contract.[citation needed] Opponents note, however, that borrowers may be driven to such debts out of necessity, or economic duress.[citation needed] At the same time however, except for related party transactions where feelings of compassion, guilt, etc, compel the lender to lend without interest, in un-related party transactions where neither the borrower nor the lender has any predetermined attachment to one another, there is no incentive for the lender to lend, and the borrower to enjoy the (presumed) benefits of a loan without usury. The philosophical concept of negative liberty is the absence of coercion from others. ...


A practical argument for usury in welfare economics is that charging interest is essential to guiding the investment process, based on the claim that profits are required to direct investments to their most productive use (solving the economic calculation problem). According to this argument, interest-driven investment is essential to economic growth, and therefore to the very existence of industrial civilization. This practical argument for the utility of usury treats all "unearned" returns to capital as interest; traditionally, guaranteed interest is usurious, whereas dividends from shared ventures are less so. In this tradition, the practical case against usury does not completely apply (although replacing debt market investments with stock market savings may not always be desirable). Officially, this is how capitalist Islamic states solve the calculation problem. An example of the 'moral' difference between dividend income and interest income is found in The Merchant of Venice: Shylock lends Antonio money for trade speculation, demanding repayment in flesh should Antonio's project fail utterly (accepting none of the business risk). Welfare economics is a branch of economics that uses microeconomic techniques to simultaneously determine the allocational efficiency of a macroeconomy and the income distribution associated with it. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The economic calculation problem is a criticism of socialist economics. ... World GDP/capita changed very little for most of human history before the industrial revolution. ... Not to be confused with capitol. ... For other senses of this word, see interest (disambiguation). ... A dividend is the distribution of profits to a companys shareholders. ... The bond market, also known as the debit, credit, or fixed income market, is a financial market where participants buy and sell debt securities usually in the form of bonds. ... A stock market is a market for the trading of company stock, and derivatives of same; both of these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately. ... Title page of the first quarto (1600) The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1596 and 1598. ... Shylock After the Trial by John Gilbert (late 19th century) Shylock is a central character in Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice who famously demanded a pound of flesh from the title character. ... Antonio is the title character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. ... For the Parker Brothers board game, see Risk (game) For other uses, see Risk (disambiguation). ...

Excessive rates

In addition to the defense of interest as such, the practice of charging high interest rates is defended by those who point out that such rates reflect the very fact that the loans are being given to creditors with a high risk of default (in a competitive debt market the interest spread simply covers the credit risk). Economists of the Austrian school say that there is no such thing as a "just" interest rate separate from the free market equilibrium determined by the time-preferences of individual lenders and debtors. (Other free market theorists take a similar view on the merit of an unregulated debt market, but may not explain the subjective estimate of a worthwhile interest-rate bargain through time preference.) Competition characterises a biochemical, ecologic, economic, political, or sporting activity whereby two or more individuals or groups strive antagonistically against one another for some reward. ... Look up spread in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Austrian School, also known as the “Vienna School” or the “Psychological School”, is a heterodox school of economic thought that advocates adherence to strict methodological individualism. ... A free market is an idealized market, where all economic decisions and actions by individuals regarding transfer of money, goods, and services are voluntary, and are therefore devoid of coercion and theft (some definitions of coercion are inclusive of theft). Colloquially and loosely, a free market economy is an economy... Time preference is the economists assumption that a consumer will place a premium on enjoyment nearer in time over more remote enjoyment. ...

Adverse selection and enforcement methods

Some have defended the threat or use of force (legal or illegal) against non-payers (such as required by Shylock). This position is based on the idea that without force there will be a market failure - since very high interest loans will only be taken up by those intending to default. The need for enforcement stems from this adverse selection problem rather than any immorality inherent in moneylenders. See: "The market for lemons". Shylock After the Trial by John Gilbert (late 19th century) Shylock is a central character in Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice who famously demanded a pound of flesh from the title character. ... Market failure is a term used by economists to describe the condition where the allocation of goods and services by a market is not efficient. ... Adverse selection or anti-selection is a term used in economics and insurance. ... Moneylending is a trade in which money is lent to individuals and corporations. ... The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism is a paper by George Akerlof written in 1970 that established the fundamentals of asymmetrical information theory. ...

Today's credit reporting system in industrialized countries obviates much of the need for the use of force. Since all potential lenders can quickly learn of one's delinquent status, non-payers may find an unwilling seller for many important goods, like apartment rentals, mortgages, renting of expensive equipment without a deposit, and in many cases, insurance or employment. In the minds of many debtors, such considerations outweigh fear of force brought against them.[citation needed] A Credit reference agency (credit reporting agency in the USA) is an organisation that collects and collates personal financial data on individuals, from financial institutions with which they have a relationship. ...


Some low-interest charity loans (such as small business micro-loans) have made a defense on the fact that interest rates allow for the indefinite administration of the charity, the replacement of defaulted loans, and in some cases, the creation of additional loan pools in other regions. The final "ethical result" of the interest rates justifies charging them.


Islamic contract law prohibits trading on credit[citation needed]; monetary or other exchange values[citation needed] (i.e. gold, silver, etc.) transactions must be made on the spot[citation needed]. Usury violates this principle, since usury essentially means buying money on credit.

Islamic scholars argue that usury also implies that the party in debt guarantees to pay the required amounts on fixed dates.[citation needed] Islamic scholars assert that such guarantees are impossible to make, as every business and venture runs the risk of failing.[citation needed]

In a partnership or joint venture where money is lent, the debtor only provides the capital yet is guaranteed a fixed amount of profit. The debtee, however, puts in time and effort, but is made to bear the risk of loss. Muslim scholars argue that such practice is unjust.[15] As an alternative to usury, Islam strongly encourages charity and direct investment in which the debtor shares whatever profit or loss the business may incur.


  1. ^ a b Moehlman, 1934, p. 6.
  2. ^ a b Noonan, John T., Jr. 1993. "Development of Moral Doctrine." 54 Theological Stud. 662.
  3. ^ Moehlman, 1934, p. 6-7.
  4. ^ a b Moehlman, 1934, p. 7.
  5. ^ Johnson cites Fritz E. Heichelcheim: An Ancient Economic History, 2 vols. (trans. Leiden 1965), i.104-566
  6. ^ Johnson, Paul: A History of the Jews (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1987) ISBN 0-06-091533-1. pp.172-173
  7. ^ I Samuel 22:2}, II Kings 4:1}, Isaiah 50:1, Ezekiel 22:12, Nehemiah 5:7 and 12:13
  8. ^ Johnson, p.272
  9. ^ Johnson, p.174
  10. ^ a b Walter Laqueur (2006): The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-530429-2. p.154
  11. ^ "When you lend money to My people, to the poor person [who is] with you, you shall not behave toward him as a lender; you shall not impose interest upon him." (ORT translation with Rashi commentary)
  12. ^ (1515-05-04) "Session Ten: On the reform of credit organisations (Montes pietatis)". Fifth Lateran Council, Rome, Italy: Vatican. Retrieved on 2008-04-05. 
  13. ^ Roover, Raymond (Autumn 1967). "The Scholastics, Usury, and Foreign Exchang". Business History Review 41. 
  14. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 1961 (6)(B). See generally, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
  15. ^ Maududi(1967), vol. i, pg. 199
  • Rothbard, Murray N. (1995), written at Auburn, Alabama, An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 Vol. Set), Ludwig von Mises Institute, ISBN 0-945466-48-X, <http://www.mises.org/store/Austrian-Perspective-on-the-History-of-Economic-Thought-2-volume-set-P273C1.aspx>.

Paul Johnson (born Paul Bede Johnson on 2 November 1928 in Manchester, England) is a British Roman Catholic journalist, historian, speechwriter and author. ... Walter Laqueur (born 1921) is an American historian and political commentator. ... A 16th-century depiction of Rashi Note: For the astrological concept, see Rashi - the signs. ... When elected pope, Julius II promised under oath that he would soon convoke a general council. ... For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation). ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 95th day of the year (96th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO) is a United States federal law which provides for extended penalties for criminal acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. ... Nickname: Location in Lee County, Alabama Coordinates: , Country State County Lee County, Alabama Government  - Mayor Bill Ham, Jr. ...

See also

Look up usury in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... A contractum trinius was a set of contracts devised by European bankers and merchants in the Middle Ages as a method of circumventing canon law edicts prohibiting usury. ... Islamic banking refers to a system of banking or banking activity that is consistent with Islamic law (Sharia) principles and guided by Islamic economics. ... Loans and interest in Judaism is a complicated and detailed field of Jewish law and the Torah and Talmud encourage the granting of loans. ... In finance, the exchange rate (also known as the foreign-exchange rate, forex rate or FX rate) between two currencies specifies how much one currency is worth in terms of the other. ... A shop window in Falls Church, Virginia advertises payday loans. ... Predatory lending is a pejorative term used to describe practices of some lenders. ... Settlement (of securities) is the process whereby securities or interests in securities are delivered, usually against payment, to fulfill contractual obligations, such as those arising under securities trades. ... Pope Benedict XIV promulgated Vix Pervenit in 1745. ... A car title loan or simply a title loan is a high interest loan where the borrower uses their automobile as collateral for the loan. ...

Further reading


DjVu (pronounced déjà vu) is a computer file format designed primarily to store scanned images, especially those containing text and line drawings. ... The Jewish Encyclopedia was an encyclopedia originally published between 1901 and 1906 by Funk and Wagnalls. ... For other persons named Francis Bacon, see Francis Bacon (disambiguation). ...


  • 'In Restraint of Usury: the Lending of Money at Interest', Sir Harry Page, The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounts, London, 1985,
  • The Bibliography therein - particularly:
  • 'The Idea of Usury: from Tribal Brotherhood to Universal Otherhood', Benjamin Nelson, 2nd Edition, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1949, enlarged 2nd edition, 1969.
  • 'Interest and Inflation Free Money: Creating an Exchange Medium That Works for Everybody and Protects the Earth', Margrit Kennedy, with Declan Kennedy: Illustrations by Helmut Creutz; New and Expanded Edition, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, USA and Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, 1995.

  Results from FactBites:
Usury - LoveToKnow 1911 (1846 words)
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.
Usury had given all the power of the state to a small plutocracy.
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." Even when it came to be authorized by Roman law under certain restrictions, it was still looked upon as a pernicious crime.
  More results at FactBites »



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