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 Infobank Judengassse Frankfurt am Main
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Pawnbroking

After the Jews had been pushed out of trade in the late Middle Ages and early modern era, pawnbroking was one of their most important fields of activity alongside moneychanging and moneylending.

Pawnbroking was a major activity in Frankfurt as well.
Luxury articles and everyday goods were left as pledges for cash loans.
The residence code covered the details.

Once pawned, items were often not redeemed.
In this case the mayor had to be notified: he would set a deadline for repayment of the loan, after which the borrower lost title to the items and the pawnbroker could sell them freely.
As all sorts of articles were pawned and pawnbroking was widespread, there was always a tendency for the borderline between dealing in pawned items and regular trade.
This opened a way of getting round certain restrictions on trading to which the Jews were subject.

One result of pawnbroking was that many Christian businessmen, often small tradesmen, became heavily indebted to the Jews, and at times became economically dependent on them.
Antisemitic feeling was often a result.
In the Fettmilch uprising of 1614, when the guilds rebelled against the city council, these antisemitic sentiments led to the plundering of the Judengasse and temporary expulsion of the Jews from the city.


© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources