Saturday, May 16, 2009

Where's that from?

If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.

If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords.

Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

Nice. Guess the source.


Yeshivish Atheist said...

Archbishop Stephen Langton

Anonymous said...

Magna Carta?

Garnel Ironheart said...

Yep, the Magna Carta:,+his+heir+shall+pay+no+interest+on+the+debt+for+so+long+as+he+remains+under+age,+irrespective+of+whom+he+holds+his+lands.+If+such+a+debt+falls+into+the+hands+of+the+Crown,+it+will+take+nothing+except+the+principal+sum+specified+in+the+bond.&source=bl&ots=HqI7boU24v&sig=_d0MkSEhoWqN7dF83C4IxJL52bk&hl=en&ei=JDAQSpC5NoK2NL698aIG&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

Yeshivish Atheist said...

wait...Archbishop Stephen Langton drafted the Magna Carta, right?

alex said...

"Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly."

Then why point out Jews??

Orthoprax said...

I don't know if any of you looked it up (aka cheated!) but yeah, it's from the Magna Carta. I had no idea these little details were in it until my trip to England this year when I actually went to see an original copy.


"Then why point out Jews??"

Exactly. Likely because it was them Jews doing most of the moneylending in the first place.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Don't you check the links I leave?

It's not much fun but all you have to do is put your quote into Google and Google does the rest.

Orthoprax said...

I know that. That's called cheating!

Garnel Ironheart said...

No, 'prax, that's called using your available resources in an efficient manner.

Joe in Australia said...

This is a bit of an old post, but the excerpt is actually not offensive at all. It just seems odd because it's based on a different legal structure, particularly as it relates to land ownership. Breaking it down:

1) Infant heirs do not incur interest on their parents' debts. This seemed fair to people back then: the infant wasn't the one who incurred the debt. You might ask why the debt shouldn't be settled immediately, by selling the land if necessary. This is because back then you couldn't sell land. In fact, nobody "owned" land in the sense that we think of land ownership today. All land was owned by the Crown (in effect, the King or Queen) and the right to occupy it (the tenancy) was passed down a chain of land-lords.

2) If the Crown acquired such a debt (for instance, if the lender became a felon and his property was forfeit) then the Crown would not claim the interest due. Because Christians weren't allowed to charge each other interest, just like Jews can't charge each other interest.

3) A widow is entitled to her dower even if the husband owes money. The reason for that is that the dower is her money. She shouldn't lose it just because her husband made bad decisions.

4) Underage children are to be provided for from the estate, even if the deceased owes money. This is the only one that should seem strange to us today, but remember that the children remained in occupation of the lands. They were entitled to an income from it, otherwise what would be the point?

5) Feudal lords get their "service" (comparable to what we would call rent) from the land before the lender gets paid back. Once again, it seems fair enough. The borrower did not own the land. Even today, a lender who acquires a leasehold from a bankrupt estate will have to pay rent on the lease.

6) These rules apply to all debts, not just debts owned to Jews. Because given the laws of the time, this was a fair and just way of dealing with debts.

Orthoprax said...


What is strange is not the debt law of the land but the fact that Jews are particularly identified as a debt-owning populace.