On usury and usurers in Moldavia: the Turkish usurers (latter half of the 17th century – latter half of the 18th century) Cover Image
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On usury and usurers in Moldavia: the Turkish usurers (latter half of the 17th century – latter half of the 18th century)
On usury and usurers in Moldavia: the Turkish usurers (latter half of the 17th century – latter half of the 18th century)

Author(s): Laurenţiu Rădvan
Subject(s): History
Published by: Editura Istros - Muzeul Brailei
Keywords: usury; credit; interest; Lazi; Moldavia.

Summary/Abstract: The present study seeks to focus on a less researched Medieval practice in the Romanian Principalities, usury. Among those who practice usury in late Medieval and pre-modern Moldavia we found many Turks and this study is an attempt to show how great was the Turkish merchants’ involvement in lending money to local princes, boyars or townspeople. We looked at for what and to whom the Turks have borrowed money and how high was the interest rates. We also tried to answer the question why had the Turks gained extensive control over money lending in Moldavian towns in the former half of the 18th century? On the one hand, the Romanian Principalities were deprived of the right to coinage. Also, after 1711, the Ottomans preferred to appoint rulers from a restricted group of families, who had close ties with Greek circles in the Phanar quarter of Istanbul. They also placed these rulers into permanent rotation, without any chance of consolidating their rule. The princes were also engaged in competition, since the price paid for appointment by the sultan was always on the rise. Whereas the money for buying off the throne was usually lent by major creditors in Istanbul, the amounts needed to confirm the instatement, or for the haracı (=haraç), mucarer (=mukarrer) and the many gifts given to grand and local officials in the Empire were derived from in-country taxation. As they were often not enough, because of the chronic lack of coin, the contenders resorted to loans from Ottoman creditors. This was compounded by the townspeople’ demand for cash, who were affected by this shortage, and by that of the boyars, who also had to answer to various requests by the rulers. The Turkish merchants in the Empire were quick to seize the opportunity and filled this need in the Romanian Principalities. Many of them settled north of the Danube. The effects are noticeable in the size and strength of local urban economy, where foreign merchants, with easier access to foreign money, had an important say.

  • Issue Year: 17/2011
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 193-212
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: English