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Twentieth-Century Jewish Émigrés and Medieval European Economic History

Department of History, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 8108, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Religions 2012, 3(3), 556-587;
Received: 31 May 2012 / Revised: 13 June 2012 / Accepted: 14 June 2012 / Published: 27 June 2012


This essay discusses the intellectual contributions of five Jewish émigrés to the study of European economic history. In the midst of the war years, these intellectuals reconceptualized premodern European economic history and established the predominant postwar paradigms. The émigrés form three distinct groups defined by Jewish identity and by professional identity. The first two (Guido Kisch and Toni Oelsner) identified as Jews and worked as Jewish historians. The second two (Michal Postan and Robert Lopez) identified as Jews, but worked as European historians. The last (Karl Polanyi) was Jewish only by origin, identified as a Christian socialist, and worked first as an economic journalist, then in worker's education and late in life as a professor of economics. All five dealt with the origin of European capitalism, but in different veins: Kisch celebrated and Oelsner contested a hegemonic academic discourse that linked the birth of capitalism to Jews. Postan and Lopez contested the flip-side of this discourse, the presumption that medieval Europe was pre-capitalist par excellence. In doing so, they helped construct the current paradigm of a high medieval commercial revolution. Polanyi contested historical narratives that described the Free Market as the natural growth of economic life. This essay explores the grounding of these paradigms in the shared crucible of war and exile as Jewish émigrés. This shared context helps illuminate the significance of their intellectual contributions by uncovering the webs of meaning in which their work was suspended.
Keywords: European economic history; Jewish émigrés; Guido Kisch; Robert Lopez; Toni Oelsner; Michael Postan; Karl Polanyi; medieval economic history European economic history; Jewish émigrés; Guido Kisch; Robert Lopez; Toni Oelsner; Michael Postan; Karl Polanyi; medieval economic history

1. Introduction

In the war years of 1943–44, when the destruction of European Jewry was spiraling to a dreadful conclusion, two émigré historians from central Europe took up their pens to write about an old essay on the economic function of medieval Jewry—"Die Stellung der Juden im Mittelalter, betrachtet vom Standpunkt der allgemeinen Handelspolitik" (The Status of the Jews in the Middle Ages Considered from the Standpoint of Commercial Policy) [1,2]. The essay was written by one of the founders of the German Historical School of Political Economy, Wilhelm Roscher. It argued that the Jews had functioned in the Middle Ages as a commercial carrier and "tutor" to the "younger nations." When these "Germanic nations" matured and engaged in commerce, they rebelled against their tutors, and imposed anti-Semitic strictures out of commercial jealousy. For Roscher, medieval Jewry provided a case study, illustrating universal laws on the relationship between minorities and niche economic activities. But for the émigré historians, Guido Kisch and Toni Oelsner, Roscher's essay was a means of combating the anti-Semitism destroying the Jewish people. Both Kisch and Oelsner responded to the common stereotypes linking Jews, Judaism and capitalism via Roscher, albeit in different keys [3,4,5].
Kisch and Oelsner were not the only Jewish émigrés to write about the origins of capitalism and the economic history of medieval Europe in the midst of the war years. This article considers five émigrés of Jewish origin: Guido Kisch, Toni Oelsner, Michael Postan, Robert Lopez, and Karl Polanyi. All addressed contemporary debates and the contemporary European crisis through economic history. These five have been chosen because they addressed European economic development from the perspective of medieval European history. Other twentieth-century Jewish émigrés wrote on economic topics; some were even medievalists [6]. But these five are representative of three key trajectories—one dealing with the question of the "economic function of the Jews," one reconstructing the commercial expansion and contraction of medieval Europe, and one economy as an instituted process. These topics form centric rings around a nuclear core of issues associated with capitalism, commercial development, money, credit, and economic exchange. Associated with these issues, though only sometimes directly addressed by these intellectuals, was a discourse that linked capitalism, credit, and, money with Jews and Judaism. The new paradigms created by these scholars would profoundly shape postwar intellectual trajectories both inside and outside of Jewish studies.
These intellectuals are not usually discussed together, for their professional fields ranged across a wide spectrum. Their Jewish identities and their academic success varied widely as well. Kisch and Oelsner defined themselves as Jewish historians and self-identified as Jews. But Kisch was a professor both before and after emigration, while Oelsner was a university student in Germany and the US who never received a permanent academic position after completing her MA. Postan and Lopez defined themselves as European historians and held important chairs at Cambridge and Yale, respectively. Although they did not hide their Jewish identity, it was de-emphasized in the elite academic institutions of Cambridge and Yale, and goes almost unnoticed in the obituaries, festschrifts, and encyclopedia articles written about them [7,8]. Polanyi was born to an assimilated Jewish Hungarian family, baptized Protestant as a child along with his siblings, and associated in adulthood with a Christian socialist movement. Emigrating from Hungary to Vienna after serving in WWI, he worked as an economic journalist in Vienna, as a lecturer in England for the Worker's Educational Association and, late in life, received academic positions in the US as a professor of economics. His intellectual work was widely influential among anthropologists, sociologists, and historians, but not among economists.
This article suggests that these intellectuals are connected and their works are shaped by the common experience of being "Jewish émigrés" in the mid-twentieth century. Understanding this experience illuminates the deeper intellectual connections between their groundbreaking work on economic history. By associating the intellectual contributions of Oelsner with Postan and Lopez, and Postan and Lopez with Polanyi, our understanding of the significance and latent implications of their new paradigms for European economic history is enriched.
All five of these intellectuals participated in a common twentieth-century European intellectual endeavor, the analysis and theorization of capitalism. All were working out of a common history of European economic thought, informed particularly by the German Historical School and the 'founding fathers' of sociology (Tönnies, Simmel, Sombart and Weber). They shared with other European and American scholars who were not Jewish émigrés a common European intellectual culture. This Jewish integration into European intellectual life was an important facet of twentieth-century Jewish experience, one which led some of these figures to de-emphasize their Jewishness or to abandon it altogether. Why emphasize here then their experience as Jewish émigrés?
These intellectuals emigrated as Jews, and the experience of emigration decisively shaped them. Whether they wished or not, Nazi racial policy imposed the identity 'Jewish' on them. Fascism, totalitarianism and anti-Semitism cut across their life-paths in diverse ways. Those fleeing the dark shadow of the Holocaust experienced the trauma of Europe's collapse on a profoundly personal level, and their intellectual works explored it on an impersonal, historical level. Their intellectual trajectories, on the one hand, were shaped by the academic cultures of Great Britain and the United States into which they integrated. Their Jewishness on the other hand, served as a touchstone for intellectual projects that have shaped trans-national European culture far beyond the boundaries of any particular, local "Jewish" affiliation. This they shared with other Jewish émigrés such as Erich Auerbach, Hans Kohn, and Konrad Wolf [9,10,11,12]. By drawing out the red thread that binds these émigrés together, it becomes evident that their intellectual works dealing with medieval economic history respond in some measure to the modern Jewish Question, because of the persistent discourse linking Jews, Judaism, and capitalism [13].

2. Guido Kisch, Toni Oelsner, and 'The Economic Function of the Jews'

Guido Kisch and Toni Oelsner were as unlike in their conclusions about Roscher's essay as they were in their professional success. Guido Kisch celebrated Roscher's essay as an argument for Jewish inclusion in the German nation; Toni Oelsner derided it as a root of anti-Semitic stereotypes. Guido Kisch was a Czech-Jewish historian dismissed from the University of Halle in 1933. Between 1933 and 1935, he held a position at the Jüdisch-Theologisches Seminary in Breslau before emigrating to the US where he received a position at Hebrew Union College and founded the journal Historia Judaica which brought out its first issue in 1938 [14]. Six years later, Kisch commemorated Roscher in the journal, writing a commentary "The Jews' Function in the Mediaeval Evolution of Economic Life in Commemoration of the Anniversary of a Celebrated Scholar and his Theory," [15] which he paired with an English translation of Roscher's article prepared by Solomon Grayzel [16].
Roscher was drawing on a deep European discourse about Jews and economics [17,18]. But writing in the mid-1870s, when the stock market crash of 1873 was linked with rising anti-Semitism, Roscher was arguing in a philosemitic and liberal vein for Jewish emancipation. In analyzing why Jews were tolerated in the early Middle Ages and persecuted in the high and late Middle Ages, Roscher constructed an economic law on the basis of ‘organic folk theory’ and grounded it in the Historical School’s theory of evolutionary economic stages through which all cultures passed: natural economy —barter economy—money economy—credit economy [19,20,21,22]. Organic folk theory held that a nation, a people (Volk), underwent an organic growth from youth to maturity to old age. The Jews were a more “commercialized people” than the Germanic tribes of early medieval Europe, and thus as merchants sustained European trade during the dark ages and “tutored” the younger nations in trade and commerce. When "Europeans" matured, they pushed their competitors, the Jews, out of commerce and into moneylending. The persecution of Jews in the high and late Middle Ages was a perfect example, Roscher argued, of a cross-cultural “economic law” in which younger nations lashed out at their elders because of trade jealousy. The historical "fact" that Jews had performed a vital "economic function" in Europe's economic development toward a modern market economy was a call for the full integration of German Jewry into the emerging German nation. But it was equally an intellectual argument illustrating a 'universal law' of a middleman minority, which applied in different cultures and periods. Kisch celebrated Roscher's philosemitic assessment of Jewish commercialism as an antidote to Nazi anti-Semitism, and he subtly changed it. The translation and the commentary dropped the comparative dimension. Roscher's "universal historical law" became contingent and unique Jewish history. For Kisch, the Jewish story was only a Jewish story. And Jewish difference was the calling card for Jewish inclusion in the modern European nation-state.
Toni Oelsner, in contrast to Kisch, was an underprivileged young woman who was pulled from high school to support her family. Her belated studies at the University of Frankfurt were interrupted when the Nazis came to power. After emigration to the US via England, she completed a BA and MA at the New School for Social Research and worked at part-time academic jobs in New York. She never attained a secure academic position, but she published several path-breaking articles [23,24,25]. The first of these was “Wilhelm Roscher’s Theory of the Economic and Social Position of the Jews in the Middle Ages: A Critical Examination” [26,27,28]. Although published only in the late 1950s, the article was researched and written in 1943–44 under a Rosenwald Fellowship of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars [29]. Oelsner formulated a sharp critique of Roscher's essay as an antidote to Nazi anti-Semitism. She argued that the "special 'economic' function of the Jews" was mere folk-psychology, which when "deprived of [its] philo-Semitic and liberal guise could be turned into models for and instruments of the destructive Nazi 'Jewish science'" [30]. Oelsner saw only the fine line that connected the "economic function of the Jew" to Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda.
Like Kisch, she reduced Roscher's universal "law" on middlemen minorities to contingent and unique Jewish history. The fact that two Jewish historians fixed on Roscher's economic function of the Jews as their "war-effort" marks how profoundly important the discourse on Jewish economics was. Both scholars were fighting an old battle even as their world collapsed around them, and they rode the tidal wave of the Holocaust into exile. Emancipation, integration, and even assimilation had failed. Anti-Semitism had triumphed, and both fought against it through Roscher's essay.
However, unlike Kisch, Oelsner discarded Jewish economic difference in toto. By breaking with the notion of Jewish economic difference, she rejected too the cultural framework that granted meaning to the "Jewish economic function" in both its anti-Semitic and philosemitic dress. With this rejection of Jewish economic difference, Oelsner foreshadowed the trajectory that scholarship would move only decades after the dust of the war years had settled. This trajectory has been reworking Jewish history as European history, as a complex history of shared culture, institutions, politics, and economics that could play out in very different ways for Jewish Europeans and Christian Europeans. Oelsner’s own move in this direction can be seen in her last and (unpublished) essay on Jewish agriculture in the upper Rhineland (southwest Germany of today) during the High Middle Ages [31]. Kisch and Oelsner represent the Janus-face of the discourse on Jewish economics. Both were fighting anti-Semitism. However, the discourse of difference was the best argument for Jews' full inclusion in Europe. Moreover, the discourse of difference was the mechanism preventing that integration.

3. Michael Postan, Robert Lopez, and Medieval Capitalism

Where Kisch and Oelsner focused on Roscher's essay as a representative moment in the nineteenth-century discourses on Jews and economics, Michael Postan and Robert Lopez focused instead on the arguments of an intellectual heir to Roscher, Werner Sombart. Postan and Lopez were central figures in a generation of scholars that challenged the characterization of medieval economy as pre-capitalist, and they were formative in developing a new paradigm that charted an economic expansion during the high Middle Ages and a contraction in the late Middle Ages. But before turning our full attention to them, the intellectual arguments of Sombart against whom they wrote must be considered.
Sombart and his intellectual rival Max Weber took up the German Historical School's historicization of economy at the turn of the twentieth century and reworked it to address Karl Marx's paradigm of capitalism [32,33,34,35,36]. They resolved the economic stages of the Historical School into two poles—premodern and modern—and revalued the Historical School's liberal progressivism as a dark modernism, an iron cage to match the cruel barbarity of capitalism [37,38]. Both Sombart and Weber integrated Roscher's "economic function of the Jews" into their studies of capitalism, but Weber more subtly than Sombart. Sombart glorified medieval Christendom as an idyllic era of pre-capitalism in which craftsmen and peasants were intimately tied to the products of their labor. Judaism embodied the profit motive and Jews, the agents of capitalism [39]. Jews and Judaism became essential components of Sombart’s narrative of the rise of capitalism, because they solved a conceptual problem. The problem was this: If modern capitalism is the antithesis of medieval anti-capitalism (and both are inherently European), then how does one explain the transformation from one to the other? For Sombart, Jews and Judaism (understood as a foreign element circulating in the European terrain and embodying capitalism) worked well as the essential causal agent moving Europe from pre-capitalism to capitalism. Max Weber would prefer the Protestant ethic, though even he saw this ethic as grounded in the ancient Hebrew prophets [40]. But both Sombart and Weber explained Europe's radical (and in their view unique) transformation towards capitalism through an agent of change external to medieval Europe—the Jews for one, the (Jewishly inflected) Protestants for the other.
Sombart's characterizations of medieval anti-capitalism and its obverse the Jewish spirit of capitalism were explosive. German-speaking, Jewish scholars from Central Europe criticized Sombart’s portrayal of Jews as the originators of capitalism [41,42,43]. The last interlocutor would be Toni Oelsner, who published a critique of Roscher, Sombart, and Weber four years after her original essay on Roscher appeared [44]. However, the more historiographically significant debate was led by European scholars whose formative intellectual years and academic careers were spent in Italy, England, France, and the US [45]. These scholars contested Sombart's characterization of medieval Europe as pre-capitalist, while ignoring his work on Jews and Judaism. The debate began in the early twentieth century, picked up speed in the interwar period, and crystallized in a new paradigm in the 1940s. The response to Sombart and the Historical School reflected the growth of medieval economic history as a field in its own right [46]. The scholarship that generated the new paradigm stretched over several decades and reflects the life-work of several generations of historians, among them, the Jewish Marc Bloch who unsuccessfully tried to emigrate and was executed as part of the French resistance [47], non-Jews like Norman Gras who emigrated from Canada to the US to establish business history at Harvard and Raymond de Roover who emigrated from Belgium to study with Gras, Usher and the economist Nef. But probably the two most prominent scholars in the construction of the new paradigm of a medieval 'Commercial Revolution' or 'economic expansion' were the Jewish émigrés, Michael Postan and Robert Lopez.
Michael Postan would become one of the most distinguished and influential economic historians of the twentieth century, following checkered university studies that took him from Eastern Europe to the London School of Economics [48,49]. Born to a Jewish family in Tighina, Bessarabia [50], he enrolled briefly in the University of St. Petersburg in 1915 to study natural sciences and sociology. Soon after, he moved to the University of Odessa to study law and economics, before enlisting in the army in 1917. After demobilization in 1918, he resumed his studies at the University of Kiev. But at the end of 1919, he found himself "out of sympathy with events following the 1917 revolution, [and] he left Russia in circumstances of some risk to himself" [51,52]. Postan it seems had been a radical socialist, though later in life was no longer a Marxist [53]. He is reported to have been involved in the Jewish Autonomy Movement in the Ukraine and to have written a "Treatise on the Political Organization of Autonomous Minorities" (1919) [54]. He may have served as a member of the Secretariat [55]. Postan supported himself as a journalist while attempting to continue his studies in Vienna and Cernowitz unsuccessfully. In 1920 he landed in England, (he had had some English schooling in Bessarabia), and between 1921 and 1926 completed a first degree and an MA at the London School of Economics. There his interests were shaped in the direction of economic history by faculty such as R.H. Tawney and Eileen Power. Power recognized his talent and cultivated his career, awarding him a research assistantship in 1926 and arranging lectureships at the LSE, University College, London, and Cambridge. She sought a readership at Oxford for him unsuccessfully [56] and had her eye on the chair in economic history at Cambridge for him years in advance [57,58].
Postan quickly evolved from Power's research assistant to her intellectual collaborator. Their intellectual companionship, like the more famed one of Bloch and Febrve, produced rich fruit. In 1937, it was cemented by marriage, despite the astonishment of friends and acquaintances at the differences in professional position, age (Power was his elder by 11 years), and "physical characteristics." These "physical characteristics" were also described as Postan's "Russianness" and his "foreignness" [59,60]. It is unclear to what extent Postan's ethnicity was perceived as "Jewish." None of the obituaries or encyclopedia articles mention his Jewishness [61]. But Postan himself did not abandon his Jewish identity in Great Britain. Between 1927 and 1932, he was associated with the 'Council of the Jewish Health Organisation of Great Britain' and was listed in the 'Who's Who' entries of the Jewish Year Book in 1927–32 and again in 1945–6 [62]. In 1938, Postan was appointed to the chair that Power had eyed for him, the chair of Economic History at Cambridge [63]. He would hold this chair until his retirement in the mid-1960s. With Power's untimely death in 1940, Postan carried on the intellectual projects she had begun and that he had collaborated on, in particular the Economic History Review and the Cambridge Economic History of Europe. The closeness of their collaboration can hardly be over estimated. Both Power's letters from the early to mid-30s and Postan's letters attest to the strength of it [64]. After Power's death, Postan noted that "they had collaborated in a way few people realised. Each wrote independently, but by the time one or the other sat down to write, 'the other was so familiar with what was going to be written that he (or she) could easily have done the writing'. 'This was possible not only because we collected our evidence together, mostly working on the same mss. (We began doing that in 1925), and always discussed it, but because we were evolving towards the same views at the same time' [65]."
Over the course of his career, Postan shifted away from his and Power's focus in the 1930s on medieval credit and trade to long-term economic trends driven by demographic changes. Postan would develop a model of high medieval economic expansion and late medieval contraction. His early work contested Sombart's pre-capitalist golden age. His later work overturned the German Historical School's theory of progressive uni-linear economic stages centered on trade, money, and markets. (Lopez would move in a similar direction.) In two early articles, Postan attacked the "notion of an undeveloped state of credit in the Middle Ages" generated by the theories of the Historical School. He investigated the use of "Credit in Medieval Trade" (1928) in one and the 'dealings in credit' through "Private Financial Instruments" (1930) in the other [66,67,68]. Through both articles he showed "how the economists, and through them also the historians, have underestimated the volume of medieval credit and consequently misunderstood its nature" [69]. In 1933, he co-edited with Eileen Power Studies in English Trade in the Fifteenth Century. The volume explored the fifteenth century as "the great transformation from mediaeval England, isolated and intensely local, to the England of the Tudor and Stuart age, with its worldwide connections and imperial designs. It was during the same period," Power and Postan claimed, "that most of the forms of international trade characteristic of the Middle Ages were replaced by new methods of commercial organization and regulation . . . [which] marked movement towards capitalist methods and principles" [70]. In the same year, Postan published a major bibliographic review that assembled the evidence for a European-wide "medieval capitalism" [71]. All these works developed the hard empirical case for a nascent capitalism in medieval England and Europe contra Sombart, and the Historical School of Political Economy represented by Hildebrand and Bücher.
Postan was by no means the sole or principal representative of this trajectory. Postan's article on medieval capitalism assembles a wide array of scholarship. Its arguments were preceded by two interwar articles published in the American Journal of Economic and Business History that critiqued Sombart, Weber, Tawney, Brentano and presented the new commercial activity of the high Middle Ages [72,73]. Moreover, the roots of the challenge to Sombart go back to Henri Pirenne's Les pèriodes de l'histoire sociale du capitalisme in which Pirenne proposed a thesis of commercial expansion in the high Middle Ages and stagnation in the later Middle Ages [74]. Pirenne was an important mentor for Eileen Power and for the French historian Marc Bloch who in turn influenced Power. All three likewise shaped Postan. In the same year that Postan published "Medieval Capitalism," Marc Bloch published his seminal article "Natural economy or money economy: a pseudo-dilemma" [75,76]. Bloch challenged the Historical School's categories of 'natural economy' and 'money economy' as "lazy solutions whose apparent simplicity" would be "exploded by searching enquiry" [77].
In 1934, the plans for the first volumes of the Cambridge Economic History of Europe were laid by Eileen Power and Sir John Clapham. Both Marc Bloch and Michael Postan would offer substantial help in the planning of the project. The first volume was to be devoted to medieval agrarian life, the second to medieval "urban, industrial, and commercial" problems, and the third to medieval economic policy and theory [78]. The extent of Postan's collaboration in the planning of the volumes and the execution of the first volume was probably unknown even to Clapham himself [79]. The Cambridge Economic History of Europe would be the most important and lasting scholarly contribution to emerge from the interwar and immediate postwar years. Postan would become co-editor when Power died suddenly from a heart attack in 1940 as the first volume went to press, and Postan would become principal editor on Clapham's demise in 1946. When Volume Two appeared, it made normative the concept of a commercially vibrant medieval Europe, putting to rest once and for all the notion of a precapitalist medieval Europe espoused by the Historical School and Sombart. The key contributions to Volume Two were Postan's and Lopez' paired chapters on trade [80]. Together with Raymond de Roover's contribution in Volume Three on "The Organization of Trade," these two chapters provided the best overview to the field of medieval economic history for many years [81].
The series was intentionally European in scope and built on the collaboration of European and American scholars. But during and after the war, it would become an émigré project to a large extent. The first volume on "Agrarian Life" had begun when international collaboration was still possible, but by the end many submissions were delayed or cancelled because of the war [82]. Richard Koebner, a Jewish Professor in Breslau was forced to emigrate. He took up a position at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His important chapter on "Settlement and Colonization of Europe" leading off the volume was delayed, because he faced difficulties "mastering the art of lecturing in Hebrew" [83]. The Italian scholar who was to write the Italian section was unable to deliver his manuscript at all [84]. The Dane who replaced the Italian scholar died, and the Fin who replaced the Dane, wrote "'from somewhere in Finland' in November 1939 that he hoped to get back to economic history but that 'it was a small thing compared with the independence of his country'." The Spanish contributor was a refugee without his notes and therefore unable to complete his contribution. Of the Polish Professor Rutkowski, Clapham wrote "all that we know with certainty is that he cannot be at his University of Poznán" [85]. Professor Ganshof was serving in the reserve army of Belgium. Marc Bloch was mistakenly believed by Clapham to have safely emigrated to America [86,87].
Progress on the second volume "Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages" faced similar difficulties. Power was no long alive to write the general essay on trade in the Mediterranean South as had been planned, nor Bloch to help find and guide contributors on the continent. Two other contributors had died, the rest were cut off from contact with the editors when Britain entered the war. The British contributors were compelled to take up war duties. Postan himself served in the Ministry of Economic Warfare [88]. Consequently, when the project was taken up again at the end of the war, the entire list of contributors had to be reconsidered and new invitations issued. In particular, collaboration with scholars from Eastern Europe became very difficult. For both intellectual and logistical reasons, Postan significantly revised Power's original plans for Volumes Two and Three. Volume Two was narrowed to focus solely on trade and industry, making the discussion of commercial expansion even more prominent. Development of towns, economic policy of municipal governments, and the history and policy of gilds, urban finance and related topics would appear in Volume Three alongside the issues of economic policy and economy theory [89]. The upshot was that the authors of the two general chapters on trade and industry in Southern and Northern Europe had to cover fields even larger. Postan solicited Robert Lopez to write "The Trade of Medieval Europe: the South," and he himself wrote "The Trade of Medieval Europe: the North."
By the time Lopez' chapter appeared in print, he was ensconced in a comfortable academic position at Yale [90]. But his professional path during the war years was anything but certain. Born in 1910 to an Italian Jewish family, Lopez was already an accomplished medieval historian with three published books by 1938. He had received his doctorate in 1932 at the University of Milan, and held positions at several Italian universities from 1933 to 1938, including a chair of history in his native Genoa [91]. When he fled fascist Italy, he passed through England. There in 1939, Lopez was entertained by the foremost Jewish historian in Britain Cecil Roth [92]. Lopez left for the United States to complete an American Ph.D. An American colleague, Robert Reynolds had advised Lopez that an American Ph.D. was necessary to secure academic employment in the US, and Reynolds helped Lopez gain admittance to the University of Wisconsin where Reynolds was on the faculty. In 1942 Lopez was awarded a doctorate [93]. From 1942 to 1943, he worked as a scriptwriter in the Italian office of the Voice of America in New York City [94]. He lectured at Brooklyn College from 1943–45, and at Columbia from 1945–46, while also serving as a foreign news editor for CBS. In 1946, Lopez was appointed to the chair in History at Yale University, where he would become a Sterling Professor of History before his retirement in 1981 [95,96,97,98]. It is worth noting that Lopez was one of the first Jews to be appointed at Yale College. According to Lopez himself, when he was brought to Yale,
he was told that he was coming in a time of crisis; he was to replace three professors who had either retired or died. A Sephardic Jewish refugee . . . Lopez informed the appointments committee of his religious background. Knowing something of Yale's past, he did not want to enter under false pretenses.
More than Postan, Lopez was grounded academically in his native academic culture before emigration. His early works fit easily into what Croce called the economic-legal school of Italian historians [100]. But like, Postan he was shaped intellectually by the experience of emigration. In Italy, he wrote local histories out of the archives of his native Genoa [101]. In the US, his best-known books were broad histories of Europe and European economic development [102,103,104,105]. Also, like Postan, he acquired a chair at an elite institution and came to shape a whole generation of scholars. But more than Postan, he maintained an overt Jewish identity even in the less than philosemitic air of Yale [106,107,108]. Lopez was "certainly proud of being Jewish and would never have hidden his cultural identity," a former graduate student commented [109]. Lopez married a Belgian émigré, Claude Kirschen from an assimilated Jewish family, and their children maintain a Jewish identity [110]. At the end of his career, he developed close ties to the Israeli academy including invitations to the Hebrew University, to the Institute for Advanced Study, and requests to decide on the tenure cases of Israeli medievalists [111].
Lopez' chapter on trade in southern Europe for the Cambridge Economic History of Europe was a celebrated essay that sketched out the narrative he would later develop in The Commercial Revolution of the High Middle Ages. Lopez masterfully described the "lights and shadows in western trade" during the early Middle Ages, the rise of Italy and the Muslims. He dismissed theories of natural economy or barter economy, documented the continued presence of money and trade and teased out fluctuations in local versus long-distance trade. The heart of the chapter, however, was devoted to what he called the "Commercial Revolution," a concept he borrowed from a close friend and fellow European émigré, Raymond de Roover [112,113,114]. Lopez described the significance of the "Commercial Revolution" in bold terms:
The startling surge of economic life in Europe in the ‘high’ Middle Ages is probably the greatest turning point in the history of our civilisation. . . . It was instrumental in bringing about all the momentous changes which ushered in our contemporary civilisation much before the end of the MA and was, in turn, influenced by all these changes. It caused the old feudal system to crumble and the old religion to weaken; it gave liberty to the serfs...and ... created a new aristocracy of wealth. . . . Italy was to the medieval economic process what England was to the modern.
Lopez leaves no room for doubt that he identified the Commercial Revolution with capitalism. “The golden age of medieval trade . . . knew many of the characteristics which we regard as typical of capitalism:" accumulation of capital, growing use of credit, improvement of business methods to compete, expansion of markets, separation of management from ownership and labor, state interest, desire for profits [116].
The original context within which de Roover used the concept is instructive. In 1941 just as the first volume of the Cambridge Economic History was seeing the light of day, N.S.B. Gras and his Belgian student, Raymond de Roover delivered papers at the American Historical Association and the Business Historical Society. Gras, a Canadian who held the first chair in history at the Harvard Business School from 1927, discussed “Capitalism—Concepts and History.” He argued that the essential element of capitalism was business administration; for it was business administration that managed the fundamental factors of labor, land, and capital [117,118]. Petty capitalism which flourished in ancient and medieval towns was transformed into mercantile capitalism, the second of five stages, by the sedentary merchant who replaced the traveling merchant. With new management techniques, new credit instruments, new forms of insurance, and above all new partnerships, the sedentary merchant controlled increasing levels of trade from the counting house. Gras essentially adopted the Historical School's method of historical stages to capitalism and located a form of it in the Middle Ages.
de Roover, commenting on Gras’ argument, gave a weighted spin to this shift from traveling to sedentary merchant and from petty to mercantile capitalism by defining it as a “Commercial Revolution of the thirteenth century” which cut the Middle Ages in two. de Roover took care to specify precisely what he meant by a Commercial Revolution. It is worth quoting him, for this forms the basis of the first and most precise use of the concept “Commercial Revolution”—a usage still current today [119].
By a commercial revolution I understand a complete or drastic change in the methods of doing business or in the organization of business enterprise just as an industrial revolution means a complete change in the methods of production, for example, the introduction of power-driven machinery. The commercial revolution marks the beginning of mercantile or commercial capitalism, while the industrial revolution marks the end of it.
Lopez would deepen and broaden the concept, moderate the uni-linear developmental scheme with a late medieval contraction, but he would never veer from the trade and market-centered definition [121]. de Roover would maintain the narrative that he adopted from Gras when he published his chapter on the "Organization of Trade" for the third volume of the Cambridge Economic History of Europe (1963), but interestingly de Roover dropped the concept of Commercial Revolution [122].
Lopez would develop the main ideas of his own chapter more fully in the monograph he published at the height of his career The Commercial Revolution of the High Middle Ages (1971). The monograph elevated de Roover's concept of "commercial revolution" to a historiographic paradigm that continues to shape the field [123]. Essentially, Gras, de Roover, and Lopez refuted Sombart by demonstrating that a Sombartian capitalism happened earlier, in the high Middle Ages. But Lopez also integrated Roscher's notion of the economic function of the Jews into his narrative of European economic development [124]. The chapter on "The Take-Off of the Commercial Revolution" includes a short section on "The Jews" who are described as the only link in the early medieval period to the commerce outside of Europe. The early medieval Jews were supplanted by "The Italians," and the chapter turns to the heart of Lopez' narrative of commercial development centered on "Coins and Credit," "Contracts," and "Transportation" [125].
Postan's complementary chapter in the Cambridge Economic History, "Trade in Medieval Europe: The North," likewise described a commercial expansion during the high Middle Ages and a contraction in the late Middle Ages. He did not however use the terminology of 'Commercial Revolution' nor did he center his historical narrative on the techniques of business administration that Lopez and de Roover favored. Rather he emphasized the trade in basic foodstuffs and raw materials for industry (wool, timber, pitch, metals) over against a conventional image of medieval trade in luxury goods only, on the one hand, and against a sharp separation of agriculture and commerce, on the other. Postan, like Lopez, clearly dismissed the theories of Sombart and the Historical School. "An unbiased student of medieval agriculture," he says, "cannot avoid the conclusion that social existence in medieval villages would have been impossible without some market and some trade.
This conclusion is in the nature of things hypothetical, but it is sufficiently obvious to shift the onus of proof from those who assume some trade at all historical times to those who wish to deny its existence at any period of the historical, as distinct from the pre-historical, past. In this sense medieval trade never 'arose'; but it undoubtedly expanded and contracted.
Postan disposed of the old uni-linear account of economic history as commercial development that steadily rises. In place of a narrative describing a commercial rise from the Dark Ages when trade virtually disappeared to the sixteenth century when it flourished abundantly, Postan put in place a narrative of cyclical expansions and contractions. These rhythms were generated not by trade but in the rural countryside by demographic change.
One can sense in this 1952 chapter, Postan's own intellectual shift. At the start of his career he focused on medieval trade and finance, evident in his seminal articles on "Credit in Medieval Trade" (1928) and "Medieval Capitalism" (1933) and his collaborative work with Power Studies in English Trade in the Fifteenth Century (1933) [127,128,129]. By his mid-career, his interests had shifted to agrarian life, with particular attention to agriculture, serfdom, and labor services. By the end of his career he had developed a "population-centered interpretation of medieval economic history as an alternative to the trade-centred interpretation. . . . Postan demonstrated that the pre-industrial economy of Europe was marked by a succession of long cycles of demographically driven expansions and contractions, following a basically Malthusian dynamic" [130].
It has been suggested that the initial version of this theory is in Postan's 1950 address to the International Congress of Historical Sciences [131]. But one can see an earlier move away from a money, market and trade-centered interpretation in his seminal 1944 article on "The Rise of a Money Economy" [132,133]. This takes us back to the midst of the war years, when Postan was working for the Ministry of Economic Warfare and the 2nd volume of the Cambridge Economic History was on hold. In this article, Postan pointedly demonstrated that the historian's recourse to the notion of a 'rise of a money economy' was a stopgap explanation for any number of historical problems in any number of historical periods. (Rather like the Jewish moneylender, we might note.) If 'rise of the money economy' refers to the birth or first use of money, it belongs to a period preceding the Neolithic or even pre-historic Bronze Age. If rise of the money economy is used to mean the general expansion of money payments, then it means something not much different from the rise of an exchange economy and the decline of a natural economy; and this, Postan argued, can be empirically tested. Yet, this very notion of natural economy Postan rightly noted has been under attack and come to mean little more than a tendency towards self-sufficiency, which oscillates back and forth in different historical periods. (Bloch's 1933 essay on natural economy or money economy was one of those attacks.) "Used in this sense," Postan concluded, "the formula of the rise of money economy points to a real social process, easy to identify and dangerous to miss," but of little revolutionary significance. It is moreover a historical phenomenon "of composite origin and reflecting an infinite variety of causes, social, economic and political." Even in the sense of increased money payments "the formula is sometimes wrapped up in a great deal of theory and mysticism, or else hitched to irrelevant facts. The most irrelevant of facts . . . is the so-called increase of money" [134]. "In some writings," Postan continues, "and especially in some German writings, the rise of money economy figures as a permanent tendency of historical development as an ever-unfolding manifestation of the progressive destinies of humanity." But Postan concludes, "in reality it is none of these things. It is certainly not uninterrupted, and in that sense not progressive" [135]. At no point but the present has there been sustained growth, and contemporary phenomena cannot be regarded as eternal. One cannot but note the chronological concurrence of Postan's essay with that of Oelsner and the monograph of Karl Polanyi, to be discussed shortly, and their common critiques of the Historical School, and reflect on the way that Postan's essay too, though less overtly, was a "war-time effort" in more than a chronological sense.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Lopez too wrote a series of articles that critiqued interpretations of luxury goods and gold currency by the great innovators in medieval economic history, Henri Pirenne and Marc Bloch. These essays can be seen as a tentative move by Lopez from a money, market, and trade-centered approach to a political and cultural explanation of economic change. In "Mohammed and Charlemagne: A Revision" (1943), Lopez challenged Pirenne's "catastrophic thesis" that the Arab conquests caused a "sudden collapse in international trade"—which, in turn, produced sweeping social and economic internal revolutions [136]. Lopez demonstrated that the disappearance of four luxury goods in the west originated in political and cultural changes in the Byzantine and Arab world. In this respect he foreshadowed the recent conclusions of Michael McCormick that Pirenne was right for the wrong reasons [137]. In "Back to Gold, 1252" (published in Postan's journal The Economic History Review), Lopez modified explanations that tie the disappearance and reappearance of gold currency in the medieval west simply to contraction and expansion of trade. Lopez offered convincing political interpretations for the cessation of gold currency in the west: The Carolingians did not wish to 'tick off' the Byzantines by claiming too many imperial symbols. Lopez offered a nuanced and complex interpretation of Genoese and Florentine issuance of gold coinage in 1252. The Genoese and Florentines capitalized on a combination of favorable circumstances: "the ratio between the price of gold and that of silver fell to its lowest medieval level, a major business cycle reached the peak of prosperity, and opportunities for investment of Genoese gold coins in certain foreign countries took a most auspicious turn" [138].
In "An Aristocracy of Money in the Early Middle Ages" published in 1953, Lopez examined moneyers as an urban-patriciate of the early Middle Ages made prominent by the possession and handling of money. He argued that moneyers in the early Middle Ages were at their peak of power when they were the sole holders of coined metal. "They were an 'aristocracy of money' not when money was most useful, but when it was most rare" [139]. The argument clearly challenges presumptions of a non-money economy in the early Middle Ages and moves in the same direction as Bloch and Postan, while still maintaining that a decisive change took place in the High Middle Ages. Despite these moves towards a sophisticated political interpretation of economic change, Lopez' masterpiece The Commercial Revolution of the High Middle Ages, written at the pinnacle of his career, holds to a trade-centered interpretation.
Lopez and Postan both refuted a Sombartian vision of a precapitalist Middle Ages and the Historical School's theory of economic stages by locating the dawn of modernity in a high medieval economic and demographic expansion. Lopez and Postan stand as foremost representatives of a whole cadre of medieval scholars who rediscovered the rich commercial life of medieval Europe. Their paired chapters in the Cambridge Economic History of Europe stand as twin pillars in a collaborative construction of a new paradigm. The Cambridge Economic History together with their later works were central in crafting a new scholarly consensus concerning the basic rhythms of medieval economic history. They charted a high medieval take-off followed by a late medieval contraction, and they argued that that take-off, despite the contraction, laid the groundwork for sustained growth in the long sixteenth century.
Whether one prefers Lopez' trade-centered formulation "Commercial Revolution" or Postan's demographically driven "expansion and contraction," it is clear that both refuted the empirical basis for a "pre-capitalist Middle Ages." They were not alone; a number of scholars had contributed to this new paradigm and even more were taking it up and weaving it into mainstream history [140,141,142,143,144,145,146,147,148,149,150,151,152,153,154,155,156,157,158,159,160]. But Postan and Lopez were leaders. Their formulations crystallized this new historical trajectory and articulated the new paradigms that would be adopted in the historical literature. What they passed over in silence is that the new paradigm lends support to Oelsner's critique of the Jewish narrative: The logical implication of a refutation of Sombart is a refutation of the commonplace narrative of the "Jewish moneylender." By jettisoning a medieval economy envisioned as a barter or natural economy, one no longer needs "outsider Jews" operating as cultural carriers of commercial life until Europeans matured and developed money, markets, and trade. Their economic history helped open medieval history beyond a narrow focus on church history and the history of monasticism and Christian theology that predominated together with traditional political history. But Postan showed no interest in Jewish topics, and Lopez wove Roscher's old paradigm neatly into his Commercial Revolution with the synthetic art of a journalist [161]. The explanation for this fact lies in their Jewish identity.
Both Postan and Lopez, like Marc Bloch, adopted an assimilationist mode characteristic of their generation. They did not reject their Jewish identity, but by quietly deemphasizing it, integrated themselves more easily into academic circles [162]. Bloch's better-documented struggle with his Jewish identity can provide both a parallel and a point of contrast for Postan's and Lopez' identity as European scholars and Jews. At the outbreak of the war, Bloch had enrolled for service in the French army [163]. When France was occupied, he sought refuge in Vichy France and attempted to emigrate to the US. Although Bloch was invited to the US in October 1940 on a Rockefeller fellowship at the New School [164], he remained in France after failing to receive visas for all dependent family members. Following his sons' lead, he joined the French Resistance. Even then, Bloch continued to offer advice on the Cambridge Economic History via clandestine letters to Postan until a few months before he was captured [165]. He died a hero's death, when a group of 28 prisoners were executed in a field in the spring of 1944 a few months before the liberation [166,167]. During the war, Bloch wrote his own "Spiritual Testament" to replace the "Hebrew prayers, whose cadences . . . accompanied so many of my ancestors and my father himself to their last rest." He refused the Kaddish, because he valued above all a "'total sincerity in expression and spirit,' and it would be dishonest to have recourse to the rites of a religion in which he did not believe. . . . 'Face to face with death,' he affirmed that he was born a Jew. 'Above all,' however he felt himself 'very simply French'" [168]. Bloch's seemingly simple passionate attachment to a national French identity was however clearly a reaction to the racial laws of Vichy France and a rejection of the imposition of a racial definition that led to the exclusion of Jews [169]. In this respect there is a sharp contrast between the trapped nationalist, Bloch, and the successful émigrés.
Postan and Lopez had integrated well in their new homelands and acquired a new layer of national identity. Jewishness was both the cause of their double nationalities and the bridge between them. This double identity can be seen in the closing lines of a letter which Lopez helped drafted for the conductor Arturo Toscanini during the war: "For I love Italy, and with equal devotion I love you sons of this great American Republic which, together with the United Nations, will soon put an end to despotic wars, and bring into the renovate world a bright and more breathable atmosphere of freedom and peace" [170]. The letter was both published as an open letter to the American people in Life magazine and sent in an abbreviated form privately to the President. It was part of Lopez' war effort. Like Toscanini, Lopez was both an Italian patriot and an American patriot. The Jewish identity that led to his emigration was a bridge between his old country and his new.
Postan differed from Lopez in ultimately rejecting a theoretical basis in a trade-centered economic history and in more quietly disengaging from Jewish history. In this respect, Postan's work aligns with the last émigré of Jewish origin to be considered here, Karl Polanyi.

4. Karl Polanyi and the Great Transformation

In the depth of the war years, a refugee from Central Europe Karl Polanyi (1886–1964) penned his classic The Great Transformation in the safe harbors of Great Britain and the United States [171]. Like Kisch and Oelsner this was his war effort. But whereas they responded to the current destruction of European Jewry, Polanyi analyzed the causes behind the collapse of European civilization as a whole. Polanyi's work, when placed in the context of other émigré works can be read, I propose, as another response to the Jewish Question. For it reworks the whole concept of economy to displace the centrality of the profit motive (linked by Sombart to Jews and Judaism) and the self-regulating market system. Polanyi as a socialist and assimilated Jewish thinker adds another dimension to the Jewish responses to economic history described here.
Polanyi was born in 1886 in Vienna. His father's family came from Ungvar, then Northern Hungary, and "were part of the rising urban bourgeoisie and the movement for the national assimilation of Hungarian Jewry." Mihaly Pollacek, Karl's father, moved his family to Budapest in the late 1880s where his success as a railway contractor made them economically part of the upper-middle class. But according to his granddaughter, "Mihaly Pollacek regarded the Hungarian 'gentry' with horror and contempt, as he did the wealthy Jewish 'gentroid' bourgeoisie of Budapest. He maintained social contact with neither. Personally, he remained Jewish and a Pollacek; but Magyarized the names of his children to Polanyi and changed their religion to Protestant (Calvinist) [172,173,174]." Karl studied law at the university, and after brief involvement with a socialist student organization, joined the Galilei Circle a progressive community of "free thinkers" devoted to consciousness raising through teaching and learning. Several miserable years as a lawyer in his uncle's firm were followed by service in the Austro-Hungarian army in Galicia from 1915 to 1917. Disabled by illness and hospitalization in 1917, Polanyi slowly emerged from what had been a ten-year crisis with a new passionate focus on the social sciences and the question of freedom [175]. When the Szabadgondolat of which he was an editor was closed by the Communist regime in 1919, he left for Vienna. There he would meet other Hungarian emigrants who fled the White Terror of 1920, including his wife Ilona Duczynska, a socialist revolutionary and political activist [176]. This was the first of Polanyi's exiles. In Vienna, he worked as an economic journalist for the Österreichische Volkswirkschaft and took part in the intellectual life of interwar Vienna. Though not a central figure, he was recognized for his participation in the Calculation Debates where he advanced a non-orthodox socialist position. He advocated de-centralized planning against Mises' arguments that planning is impossible on the one hand and Neurath's vision of centralized planning on the other. In 1933, as Hitler's success strengthened the Austrian fascists, Polanyi emigrated to England. But his wife and child remained behind. With the collapse of Austrian democracy and the success of the Heimwehr fascism, his daughter Kari was sent to him in England. Ilona joined them only two years later having stayed in Austria to participate in the illegal Schutzbund [177]. In England, Polanyi was associated with Christian socialist circles and socialist scholars R.H. Tawney and G.D.H. Cole. Through these connections he was employed as a lecturer in adult education for the Workers' Educational Association (W.E.A.) and the Extra Mural Delegacies of the Universities of Oxford and London, and arranged a lecture tour in the U.S. [178]. Moving in these circles, he is likely to have crossed paths with Eileen Power and Michael Postan. Power ran a seminar on economic history with Tawney, and she too For Power was associated with the Worker's Educational Association. During this period, Polanyi deepened his knowledge of Industrial Revolution particularly with reference to England [179]. These studies would bear fruit in The Great Transformation [1944], an interpretive study of the nineteenth century in which Polanyi attempted to explain the rise of Fascism and collapse of European society.
His analysis focused on the capitalist ideology of a self-regulating market, which he considered utopian, and it issued in a formative critique of contemporary economic theory as market driven.
Our thesis is that the idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia. Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness. Inevitably, society took measures to protect itself, but whatever measures it took impaired the self-regulation of the market, disorganized industrial life, and thus endangered society in yet another way.
An autonomous market system severs the symbiotic connection between society and economy, inverting their natural order. The aim of the economy is no longer the satisfaction of society’s material needs, but ever increasing profit. The profit motive drives economic activity, regardless of the human and environmental costs. This inversion shows itself in the commoditization of factors such as labor, land, and money, which are commodities only in fiction.
Polanyi built his argument for the regulation of modern economy by demonstrating how economies across time and space have been embedded in social institutions. Drawing on the ethnographic literature describing primitive economies, Polanyi constructed three ideal types of "economic exchange"—reciprocity, redistribution, or exchange. (This last was the historic origin of the self-regulating market system, but, he emphasized, it need not have developed in this direction.) Only an economy embedded in its social institutions is properly directed to sustaining human life, as opposed to accumulating capital. The ideal of a self-regulating market system, Polanyi concluded, is historically unprecedented, an aberration in human history, one which is destroying European society.
By arguing that a self-adjusting market system is a false utopia and historically unprecedented, Polanyi attacked the root principles of classical political economy and neo-classical economics—that an autonomous market system is the pinnacle and teleological end of economic development. In this system of thought, the market system becomes identical with “economy” and serves as a theoretical model for all cultures in any historical period. Polanyi in contrast pointed out the historical contingency of and the utopian elements in classical and neo-classical economics. He argued that the following principles are valid only for a study of modern market systems, and then only in part: (1) the basic economic unit is an autonomous agent, (2) with an innate propensity to “truck, barter and trade,” (3) which propensity naturally gives rise to markets, (4) which markets naturally give rise to a self-regulating market system [181]. In no primitive society, Polanyi argued, does the orthodox economic story bear out: individuals do not show a propensity to barter, nor does barter give rise to local markets and a division of labor, necessitating regional and long-distance trade. Polanyi specifically articulates his critique as a response to Adam Smith. This is not surprising given the English context within which he was reading and lecturing during the war. What is not viscerally evident is that the Smithian propensity to "truck, barter, and trade" had been linked in German economic literature specifically to Jews and Judaism [182]. This German context unveils another layer in Polanyi's thought, suggesting that his work can be read as a profound response to the Sombartian reduction of Jews and Judaism to the spirit of capitalism.
Following the enthusiastic reception of The Great Transformation, Polanyi received a visiting professorship in 1947 at Columbia University where he directed a project supported by the Council for Research in the Social Sciences at Columbia on the origins of economic institutions. After his retirement in 1953, he and the anthropologist Conrad Arensberg directed an Interdisciplinary Project funded by the Ford Foundation on the economic aspects of institutional growth, as well as a faculty seminar at Columbia on the same topic. This series of research projects reached fruition in the path-breaking collection of essays Trade and Market in the Early Empires: Economies in History and Theory, edited jointly by Polanyi, Arensberg, and the sociologist, Harry Pearson, in consultation with the Assyriologist A.L. Oppenheim from the Oriental Institute at Chicago. The aim of the volume as a whole was the exploration of the relation between social institutions and economic patterns, in both market and non-market economies. The underlying impetus for the volume was the sociological understanding of economy or what Polanyi referred to as the “place of economy in society.”
The collection drove a single argument home, due in large measure to Polanyi's guiding vision: the economic process must be rethought more broadly than the market complex in order to understand pre-industrial and primitive economies. "The authors see in the market bias an intellectual obstacle to that broadening of our vision in matters economic which they advocate" [183]. Just as Polanyi argued in The Great Transformation, the authors here hold that
Adam Smith's discovery of the market as the pivot of the economy was more than a practical insight...His concept of the market as a spur to competition gave the decisive impetus for that view of society that was to arise from such an economy: a concept that was eventually regarded as an universal tool in the atomistically conceived history and theory of man. The market, then, shaped both the organization of our actual material existence and the perspectives from which we were allegedly enabled to grasp all forms of social organization.
Polanyi and his fellow editors protested against the neoclassical definition of the “economic” as economizing action in a situation of scarcity, and its claim to historically universal applicability.
Such an approach must induce a more or less tacit acceptance of the heuristic principle according to which, where trade is in evidence, markets should be assumed, and where money is in evidence trade, and therefore markets, should be assumed. Naturally, this leads to seeing markets where there are none and ignoring trade and money where they are present, because markets happen to be absent. The cumulative effect must be to create a stereotype of the economies of less familiar times and places, something in the way of an artificial landscape with only little or no resemblance to the original.
Polanyi argued that the economic has a substantive meaning, not just a formal (neo-classical) meaning. The substantive meaning refers to the satisfaction of material wants through humankind’s interchanges with nature and fellow human beings. "Only the substantive meaning of ‘economic’," Polanyi argues, "is capable of yielding the concepts that are required by the social sciences for an investigation of all the empirical economies of the past and present" [186]. That is, focusing on rational economizing limits the scope of investigation, ruling out economic activities that do not conform to the modern market system. The anthropologist, sociologist and historian is faced, Polanyi argues, with a great variety of institutions other than markets, in which humankind’s livelihood is embedded. Thus an analytical method devised for a special form of the economy, which was dependent upon the presence of specific market elements is useless. Only the substantive definition opens economic thought up to non-market systems [187].
Trade and Markets in Early Empires set off a revolution in the newly emerging sub-field of economic anthropology and had a similar if less far reaching effect in ancient history. During the sixties and seventies, economic anthropology was divided between "formalists" subscribing to the use of contemporary economic theory for primitive economies and "substantivists," following Polanyi's model, joined somewhat later by a third approach, that of the New Left Marxists, which posed a focus on production as a counterpoint to Polanyi's on circulation. Polanyi's model had some muted influence in medieval history as well, particularly through Georges Duby's Early Growth of the European Economy, which drew on Polanyi as well as the sociologist Marcel Mauss, following a seminar of the Annales School [188,189,190]. While Polanyi's influence in economic anthropology has waned, his contributions have been absorbed into the make-up of the field and synthesized with other approaches. With the foundation of a Karl Polanyi Institute in Montreal and a series of conferences connected with the Institute from the mid-1980s on, Polanyi's ideas received renewed attention from a diverse group of thinkers concerned with globalization, third world development, freedom within state regulation, ethics in economy. With the weakening and collapse of the Soviet controlled Communism of central and Eastern Europe, western Marxism all but gave its last gasp. Polanyi offered in the West a broad, innovative thinker championing a non-Marxist socialism, with an ethical economics based in Christian thought [191].
Polanyi was a Christian socialist, but he was also Jewish. As a socialist thinker, he was part of a large group of assimilated Jewish intellectuals and political activists who have been invisible in the literature on modern Jewish history their socialist identity took precedence over their Jewish identity. As an assimilated Jew, Polanyi was Jewish in a social sense, through the networks of familial and social ties within which his life was embedded. Finally as a central European émigré, Polanyi had the racial category that denied his own self-identification as a Christian socialist thrust upon him. His intellectual trajectory was shaped by the experience of emigration as a "Jew." Without the exposure to the traditions of political economy and history in England, perhaps too without the personal trauma of exile, the Great Transformation would never have been written. Without the fellowships and scholarly connections in the US, the collaborative work at Columbia would not have produced the same forceful, intellectual model influencing anthropologists, sociologists and premodern historians in the postwar period. Though he neither saw himself as "Jewish" nor linked his work to Jewish history, his work challenged the very construction of 'economy' around a 'profit motive' that was linked with Jews and Judaism.

5. Conclusions

These five intellectuals represent a range of émigré experiences and Jewish identities. Postan and Polanyi were émigrés in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the political upheavals in Eastern Europe. Both cycled through Vienna and London, and both had intimate knowledge of socialism with roots in central and eastern European Jewish politics. Postan had settled in England, entered the university system, and built a career, ultimately securing a comfortable chair at Cambridge. Postan, Polanyi, and Lopez would all work as journalists before establishing (or re-establishing) themselves in academia. Polanyi was a journalist for a decade in Vienna, but would become an émigré once again along with Kisch, Lopez, and Oelsner as a consequence of Nazi racial policy. Kisch and Lopez emigrated to the US as already established scholars, though Lopez enrolled in and completed an American Ph.D. program for the sake of employment. Oelsner coming late to the university and denied entrance in the 1930s, would gain both a BA and an MA in America. In this she was similar to Postan, but unlike Postan, Oelsner never achieved a secure academic position. Polanyi, a committed socialist, worked forty years as a teacher in the worker's educational movement and would become a visiting professor in the US, first through a wartime fellowship at Bennington College, then through his wartime writings at Columbia University.
But despite differences in identity and personal experience, these émigrés are united by the fact that each one responded to the contemporary European crisis in intellectual projects on the economic history of premodern Europe. The 'lived historical experience' of the war years brought new urgency and crystallized the construction of new paradigms that have profoundly shaped intellectual work in the later twentieth century [192]. For Kisch, Oelsner, and Polanyi, this intellectual intervention was their war effort. Their intellectual projects directly grew out of the collapse of European Jewish life on the one side (Kisch / Oelsner) and the collapse of European democracy on the other (Polanyi), and their personal experience of both.
Postan's and Lopez' works were not so evidently a "war effort." Their intellectual trajectories had already been set in place in the interwar years, but there are complex ties between their work, their émigré experience, and the war. For both, their war effort was the more traditional one of serving in war offices where their native languages made them highly useful. Postan became the head of the Russian section of the Ministry of Economic Warfare and contributed to the official civil history of the war [193,194]. Lopez worked in the Italian section of the Office of War Information as a scriptwriter. Both of them met their future wives as co-workers in the war offices. Lopez quipped that his successful courtship of Claudia Kirschen "was his supreme wartime accomplishment" [195]. Four years after Power's death, Postan married Lady Cynthia Keppel, the daughter of the Ninth Earl of Albemarle [196]. An unintended consequence of these marriages was the greater ease of accepting these "foreign" and Jewish émigrés into the social circles of the academic elite and thereby the solidification of their intellectual influence [197]. Postan and Lopez would each educate a whole generation of medieval historians in Great Britain and the United States. In a similar way, the disruption the war caused to the Cambridge Economic History of Europe threw Postan and Lopez to the forefront in the composition of that key second volume. Perhaps their interest in commercialization in the medieval period was deepened by the political experiences that led to emigration. But for Postan and Lopez, the crisis of the war itself did not radically shape their intellectual projects. Rather it was the nature of their émigré experience that did. As émigrés, both Postan's and Lopez' intellectual trajectories were shaped by their encounters in a new academic setting (as was Oelsner's). Postan was brought into economic history by his teachers at the London School of Economics. Lopez, already an accomplished economic historian when he arrived in the States, was broadened by his American experience. His formerly narrow, local studies gave way to exceptional broad and synthetic works (in part no doubt due to that essential American element of distance from the archives) [198].
Neither Postan nor Lopez wrote Jewish history nor engaged with Jewish historical issues (aside from Lopez' modest incorporation of "the economic function of the Jews"). But a latent connection exists due to the prominence of political discourses laced with stereotypes linking Jews and capitalism in first half of the twentieth century. Neither Postan nor Lopez intended their work to refute Roscher's theory of an "economic function of the Jew" (and to suggest such would be to diminish the broad-ranging historical palette with which they dealt). But they proposed a model of expansion and decline before the sixteenth century that fits hand-in-glove Oelsner's critique (even if Lopez like Kisch accepted Roscher's model). Postan in particular developed a historical narrative that realized Polanyi's theoretical critique of a linear, teleological progression of economy grounded in a Smithian economic man with an "innate propensity to truck, barter and trade" or what we might also call the "Jewish moneylender." Two of these émigrés were fiercely Jewish and devoted their intellectual life to questions of Jewish history (Kisch and Oelsner), two personally identified as Jews but had little involvement in scholarship on Jewish Studies (Postan and Lopez) [199,200], one was a Christian socialist of Jewish origins (Polanyi). But the pressure of Nazi racial categories and the war produced similar effects—emigration and intellectual projects that rethought European economic history with particular emphasis on the premodern. The intellectual trajectories charted here contributed major new paradigms that profoundly shaped intellectual work in the post-war years and continue to shape our thinking today.

References and Notes

  1. W. Roscher. “Die Stellung der Juden im Mittelalter, betrachtet vom Standpunkt der allgemeinen Handelspolitik.” In Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft. Edited by K. Bücher. Tübinger: Verlag der H. Lauppschen Buchhandlung, 1875. [Google Scholar] The essay was first published in Italian in the Giornale degli Economisti, 1875.
  2. It was republished in Roscher's collected essays Ansichten der Volkswirthschaft aus dem geschichtlichen Standpunkte. Leipzig: C.F. Winter, 1878, Volume 2, pp. 321–354.
  3. Kisch published a celebratory assessment of Roscher's essay together with a truncated part of the original German essay translated by Solomon Grayzel. G. Kisch. “The Jews' Function in the Mediaeval Evolution of Economic Life in Commemoration of the Anniversary of a Celebrated Scholar and his Theory.” Historia Judaica 6 (1944): 1–12. [Google Scholar]
  4. W. Roscher. “The Status of the Jews in the Middle Ages Considered from the Standpoint of Commercial Policy.” Historia Judaica 6 (1944): 13–26. [Google Scholar]
  5. Toni Oelsner published a sharp critique. T. Oelsner. “Wilhelm Roscher’s Theory of the Economic and Social Position of the Jews in the Middle Ages: A Critical Examination.” YIVO 12 (1958–9): 176–95. [Google Scholar]
  6. In particular, one must mention Richard Koebner and Jacob Katz, both of whom emigrated to Palestine. The first was an important medievalist and comes into the story told here as a contributor to the Cambridge Economic History edited by Postan. Katz had tremendous influence on the field of Jewish studies. Other figures for instance would include Simon Kuznets. See: S. Lo, and E. G. Weyl, eds. Jewish Economies. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2011.
  7. The one exception for Lopez is the encyclopedia article by Felice Lifshitz: F. Lifshitz. “Lopez, Robert.” In Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing. London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999, Volume 1, pp. 732–3. [Google Scholar]
  8. The one exception for Postan is Maxine Berg's biography of his first wife Eileen Power: M. Berg. A Woman in History: Eileen Power 1889–1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. [Google Scholar]
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  13. This essay proceeds by reconstructing the modern twentieth-century historical context for the writing of medieval history and granting this context a formidable influence in the invention of new paradigms for understanding medieval history. Recovering the context for the intellectual discoveries in no way diminishes their truth-claims. Rather it only suggests that the path to this truth lies through the smoke and ashes of WWII. Medieval history is a creative enterprise that nests like a Russian doll inside layers of modern experience.
  14. For Kisch's biography, see: s.v. "Kisch, Guido," and s.v. "Kisch, Bruno." International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Émigrés, 1933–1945. Munich: Mynchen Saur, 1980, Part Two; Volume Two, pp. 621–623.
  15. G. Kisch. “The Jew’s Function.” In The Jews’ Function in the Mediaeval Evolution of Economic Life, in Commemoration of the Anniversary of a Celebrated Scholar and his Theory. New York: Historia Judaica, 1944. [Google Scholar]
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  17. Two excellent recent monographs have charted this intellectual and cultural terrain: J. Karp. The Politics of Jewish Commerce: Economic Thought and Emancipation in Europe, 1638–1848. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. [Google Scholar]
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  20. For discussion and citation, see: M. M. Postan. “Credit in Medieval Trade.” In Medieval Trade and Finance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973, p. 2. [Google Scholar]
  21. Karl Bücher was more knowledgeable about the Middle Ages than other economic theorists of the Historical School and careful not to simplify the stages of economic development to the radical extent that Hildebrand had. But still in his version, credit in its various permutations from occasional to consumptive to commercial still formed the backbone of the evolutionary ladder. K. Bücher. Industrial Evolution. New York: Burt Franklin, 1901. [Google Scholar]
  22. Bücher's nuanced model came to form "one of the axiomatic assumptions of historical research." (Postan, ibid.) See also: D. Lindenfeld. Practical Imagination: the German Sciences of State in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. [Google Scholar]
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  24. See also her interview: “'Bloch hielt einen Vortrag über Träume vom besseren Leben.' Gespräch mit Toni Oelsner.” In Die Zerstörung einer Zukunft: Gespräche mit emigrierten Sozialwissenschaftlern. M. Greffrath, ed. Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1979, pp. 223–47.
  25. It is further elaborated in: “Dreams of a Better Life: Interview with Toni Oelsner.” In Germans and Jews since the Holocaust: The Changing Situation in West Germany. A. Rabinbach, and J. Zipes, eds. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986, pp. 98–119. It should be said that Oelsner's inclusion in the foregoing sources on émigrés denotes fair recognition of her scholarship, despite the fact that she never held a permanent academic post.
  26. T. Oelsner. Wilhelm Roscher’s Theory of the Economic and Social Position of the Jews in the Middle Ages. Oelsner's article has remained a starting point for anyone reconsidering this historical narrative
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  29. It was also supported through a subsequent grant by Siegmund Baruch to YIVO. For the history of her research grants, see her note in the aforementioned article, p.176.
  30. T. Oelsner. Wilhem Roscher's Theory, 176–7.
  31. T. Oelsner. “The Economic and Social Condition of the Jews of Southwestern Germany in the 13th and 14th Centuries.” In Toni Oelsner Collection. Archives of the Leo Baeck Institute.
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  35. See also A. Mitzman. The Iron Cage: an Historical Interpretation of Max Weber. New York: Knopf, 1970. [Google Scholar] and Sociology and Estrangement: Three Sociologists of Imperial Germany. New York: Knopf, 1973.
  36. Toni Oelsner first mapped out the connections between Roscher, Sombart and Weber in: T. Oelsner. “The Place of the Jews in Economic History as Viewed by German Scholars: A Critical-Comparative Analysis.” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 7 (1962): 183–212. [Google Scholar]
  37. My rendering of Sombart’s and Weber’s construction of the Middle Ages and its relationship to their thinking on Jews and Judaism is indebted to two essays, neither of which however, puts these together in precisely this way: J. Baldwin. “The Medieval Theories of the Just Price: Romanists, Canonists, and Theologians in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.” In Pre-Capitalist Economic Thought: Three Modern Interpretations. New York: Arno Press, 1972. [Google Scholar]
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  45. A number of important historians who do not come into this account directly, but ought to be mentioned are: the Italians Gino Luzzato and Armando Sapori, the French scholars Yves Renouard and André-E. Sayous, and the American scholars Abbott Usher, Frederic Lane, Frank Knight, and Florence Edler.
  46. A good description of the growth of the field is given by R. Goldthwaite. “Raymond de Roover on Late Medieval and Early Modern Economic History.” In Business, Banking, and Economic Thought in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Selected Studies of Raymond de Roover. Edited by J. Kirshner. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974, pp. 3–14. [Google Scholar]
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  50. Bessarabia was formerly the eastern part of the Principality of Moldavia ceded to Imperial Russia in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish war.
  51. “Obituary: Professor Sir Michael Moissey Postan, 1899–1981.” Economic History Review 35 (1982): iv–vi.
  52. See also: E. Miller. “Michael Moissey Postan: 1899–1981.” Economic History Review 35:1 (1982): 544. [Google Scholar]
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  54. E. Miller. “Michael Moissey Postan: 1899–1981.” Economic History Review 35:1 (1982): 544. [Google Scholar] My sincere thanks to Dr. Aladár Madarász for searching Russian and Ukrainian libraries for possible publications by Postan in these years.
  55. M. Berg. A Woman in History, Eileen Power, 1889-1940. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 187, note 50.
  56. Power was bitter about the lack of enthusiasm for Postan at Oxford, writing scathingly afterwards to Postan and Webster about the remoteness of the Oxford mind: "It is not that they are unaware of the outer world, but by some odd optical elusion they are aware of it as a part of Oxford...They are slightly warmer about the British Empire, but that, of course, is because it was invented by Lionel Curtis. It is marvellous to be able to live like flies in amber (or are they more like prawns in aspic?), but God alone knows why you want to do it." Power to Postan, 26 February 1932, Power-Postan Papers cited in: M. Berg. A Woman in History, 191.
  57. Power wrote quite frankly to Postan in the early 1930s: "Clapham's chair will be vacant in about 7 years time. You can't get a chair in London or Oxford, because you are blocked by myself & Clark; but I have for some time had my eye on Cambridge for you. It is a snag that you are not a Cambridge man; but as far as I can see there aren't going to be any Cambridge men available, for Clapham has failed to train up any successor of the right calibre." She goes on to say "I shall never say this to anyone but you, because it would be most unsafe, but I have had it for some time in my mind. It depends entirely on how big a reputation you can amass in the next 7 years, & on how we manage Clapham." Power to Postan, 29 January n.d., Power-Postan Papers cited in: M. Berg. Woman in History, 192.
  58. She was delighted and relieved when he did receive the chair in 1938, remarking to her friend Helen Cam. "I never thought the Committee would have the sense." Power and Postan were married by this time. Power to Cam, 6 February 1938, Cam Papers, cited in: M. Berg. “Woman in History.” 197.
  59. Power's friend Nadine Marshall recalled that "She was very British, and he very Russian." Power's housekeeper remarked "I don't like to think of Miss Eileen being walked over at her age, but these foreigners are rather good at it." M. Berg. Woman in History, 194. Berg herself uses the term "physical characteristics."
  60. The memorial to Postan published in the Proceedings of the British Academy makes mention both of his "Russian origin" and his "distinctive appearance." Proceedings of the British Academy 69; London: Oxford University Press, 1983, pp. 543, 545.
  61. The sole exception is the biographer of Eileen Power, as noted above, despite his Hebrew middle name Moissey.
  62. The Jewish Year Book. London: Greenberg and Co. pp. 1927–32 and 1944–5.
  63. Some accounts suggest that Power selflessly gave up her own chance of securing the position for Postan. But her reasons were much more complicated and the position was by no means securely Postan's if she stepped out of the way. See her letter to Cam, 6 January 1938, Helen Cam Papers, Girton College archives, cited in M. Berg. Woman in History, 196–7.
  64. See Berg's discussion and the passages she cites in: M. Berg. Woman in History, 192–9.
  65. M. Berg. Woman in History, 197 citing Postan to Webster, 10 October 1940, Webster Papers.
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  67. M. M. Postan. “Private Financial Instruments.” Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 23 (1930): 26–75. [Google Scholar]
  68. Both articles were reprinted in the collection of Postan's essays: M. M. Postan. Medieval Trade and Finance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973, pp. 1–27, 28–64. [Google Scholar]
  69. M. M. Postan. “Credit in Medieval Trade.” 27.
  70. E. Power, and M. M. Postan, eds. Studies in English Trade in the Fifteenth Century. London: G. Routledge and Sons, 1933, p. xvii.
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  74. The essay was published simultaneously as a French monograph and an English article: H. Pirenne. Les pèriodes de l'histoire sociale du capitalism. Brussels: Librairie du Peuple, 1914. [Google Scholar] and “The Stages in the Social History of Capitalism.” American Historical Review 19 (1914): 496–515. This essay reads as an early draft of all his later theories—those on the collapse of European economy in the Carolingian period, the origins of towns, and most important of all for our concern, his narrative of high medieval economic history, published posthumously as Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1936.
  75. It is published in the original French in the 2 volumes of Bloch's collected essays: M. Bloch. “Économie-nature or économie-argent.” In Mélanges Historiques. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1966, Volume 2, pp. 868–77. [Google Scholar]
  76. It was extracted and translated in the English collection of Bloch's essays: M. Bloch. Land and Work in Medieval Europe: Selected Papers by Marc Bloch. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967, pp. 230–43. [Google Scholar]
  77. M. Bloch. Natural Economy or Money Economy, 231.
  78. M. M. Postan, and E. E. Rich. “Preface.” In Cambridge Economic History of Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952, Volume 2, p. vi. [Google Scholar]
  79. Power writes to Postan some years before their marriage: "I do, I confess, feel rather worried about you. You would be a much better editor than I, and you are continually having to give me advice & help in work for which I get the credit. I don't really know quite what to do about it. I can't help asking for the best advice I can get over things, & I have an extremely high opinion of you . . . I could plan this without consulting you at all, but it would be so silly. It is just the unfortunate fact that I am 12 years older that puts me in Chairs and on the editorial page of these things" (Power to Postan, 9 January n.d. cited in M. Berg. Woman in History, 192. This is the same letter in which Power shares her hopes for the chair at Cambridge going to Postan when Clapham retires.)
  80. Cambridge Economic History of Europe, 1st ed. 1952, Volume 2, pp. 119–354.
  81. Lopez himself cites these three chapters as such in the bibliography to his own Commercial Revolution of the High Middle Ages. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1971.
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  83. Former students from the Hebrew University still tell amusing stories of Koebner reading his Hebrew lectures transcribed in Roman characters without a sense of their meaning.
  84. We are not told who this was or whether he was of Jewish origins.
  85. This would seem to be Jan Rutkowski, the accomplished economic historian of Poland rather than Konrad Rutkowski, the medieval historian turned Gestapo officer explored in Borislav Pekic's novel How to Quiet a Vampire: A Sotie. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern Univ. Press, 2005.
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  90. Lopez' correspondence with the de Roovers in 1945–46 suggests that Lopez was writing the chapter before beginning the position at Yale: Robert Sabatino Lopez Papers, Yale University, MS. 1459, Box 3, Folder 60.
  91. “Document no. 16: Coordinator of Information, 'Application and personal history statement,' s.d., ma maggio-giugno 1942.” In Roberto Lopez: l'impegno politico e civile (1938–1945). A. Varsori, ed. Florence: Universita degli studi di Firenze, 1990, pp. 137–141.
  92. Roth to Lopez, 22 September 1939, Robert Sabatino Lopez Papers, Yale University Library, MS. 1459, Box 9, Folder 203. Roth attempted to forge some useful connections for Lopez in America and remained in contact with him, if distantly, over the years.
  93. Ibid.
  94. Ibid. See the discussion of Lopez' anti-fascist position and many documents from this period in Varsori's book.
  95. For Lopez' biography, see, in addition to the aforementioned volume by A. Varsori. Roberto Lopez: A. Lewis, J. Pelikan, and D. Herlihy. “Robert Sabatino Lopez.” Speculum 63 (1988): 763–765. [Google Scholar]
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  98. A bibliography of Lopez' publications until 1976 is included in the festschrift for Lopez: H. Miskimin, D. Herlihy, and A. Udovitch, eds. The Medieval City. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977, pp. 329–34.
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  101. He published one local Genoese history while in the US: La Prima crisi della banca in Genova, secolo XIII (Milan, 1956).
  102. In order of chronology and importance, one must mention first the source collection edited with Irving Raymond: Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World. R. Lopez, and I. Raymond, eds. New York: Columbia University Press, 1955.
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  106. On Yale's and other elite American universities growing antipathy to Jews and secret quotas on Jewish students in 1920s and 1930s, see: J. Karabel. The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. [Google Scholar]
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  109. John Munro, personal correspondence with author, 6 March 2012. Lopez' proud Jewish identity also comes out in his published writings. See the discussion below of The Commercial Revolution of the High Middle Ages. But Lopez would not have expressed his Jewish identity in terms of religion: "Roberto's anti-clericalism, as part of his anti-Fascism, explains in my view, his reluctance to express any feelings or views about his Jewish identity in terms of religion: in other words, he was anti-religious in general." (John Munro, personal correspondence with author, March 11, 2012.)
  110. Ibid.
  111. He was invited to the Hebrew University for a semester in 1979, when this fell through because of his wife's illness, again in 1981. Thereafter he became integrated into the Israeli academy evidenced by multiple invitations to lecture, an invitation to the Institute for Advanced Studies, the translation of one of his articles into Hebrew (he had little Hebrew), requests to write on the tenure cases of Israeli medievalists Shulamith Shahar and Kenneth Stow, the invitation to participate in a conference in Italy on Italian-Jewish history which was organized as part of Israel's diplomatic negotiations with the Italian government. (Robert Sabatino Lopez Papers, Yale University, MS. 1459, Box 14, Folder 287.)
  112. Raymond de Roover was not however a Jewish émigré. For de Roover's and Lopez' friendship, see their correspondence: Robert Sabatino Lopez Papers, Yale University Library, MS 1459, Box 3, Folder, 60. This file includes an extensive correspondence with Florence Elder de Roover, an economic historian in her own right. Both of the de Roovers sent Lopez extensive comments on his essay for the CEH and commendations after it was published
  113. See in particular: de Roovers to Lopez, 24 October 1946 and 15 May 1951. Robert Sabatino Lopez Papers, MS. 1459, Box 3, Folder 60. On Raymond de Roover as economic historian, see: Goldthwaite, R. Raymond de Roover on Late Medieval and Early Modern Economic History.
  114. J. Kirshner. “Raymond de Roover on Scholastic Economic Thought.” In Business, Banking, and Economic Thought in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Selected Studies of Raymond de Roover. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974, pp. 3–36. [Google Scholar]
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  122. de Roover does not highlight the terminology of "Commercial Revolution" in his chapter of the Cambridge Economic History. Nevertheless this chapter is regarded as "the best statement" of "de Roover's general orientation as an economic historian," because, according to Goldthwaite, it elaborates "his concept of the commercial revolution of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries." (R. Goldthwaite. “Raymond de Roover.” p. 13.).
  123. It is worthy of note in the context of the concerns of this paper that Lopez touches at times on Jews in commerce and seems to retain the formulations of Roscher, even as his own work should have made him most skeptical.
  124. Lopez. Commercial Revolution, 60–2.
  125. Ibid, 63–84. My thanks to the students of History 498 spring 2012 at the North Carolina State University who emphasized in our discussions Lopez' close identification of Jews and Italians.
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  156. Monographs within national historiographies also show this tendency, with Luzzatto’s on Italy unsurprisingly the earliest: G. Luzzatto. An Economic History of Italy from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961. [Google Scholar]
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  158. E. Miller, and J. Hatcher. Medieval England: Towns, Commerce and Crafts, 1086–1348. London: Longman, 1995. [Google Scholar]
  159. One should also mention Postan's own survey: M. M. Postan. The Medieval Economy and Society: An Economic History of Britain 1100–1500. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972. [Google Scholar]
  160. See also the extensive citation of national historiography in: D. Herlihy. “The Economy of Traditional Europe.” Journal of Economic History 31 (1971): 153–64. [Google Scholar]
  161. One can speculate that Roscher's narrative on the Jews afforded Lopez a way of synthesizing pride in both his Jewish and Italian identities, in as much as the two become nearly equivalent players in the story of the commercial revolution that has shaped medieval studies in North America. See, his chapter on "The Jews" and its relationship to the following sections: R. Lopez. “Commercial Revolution.” , 60–3.
  162. One article in this issue explores this issue in regard to the New School and the Jewish intellectuals in exile brought to the safety of the US during the war: D. Bessner. “‘Rather More than One-Third Had No Jewish Blood’: American Progressivism and German-Jewish Cosmopolitanism at the New School for Social Research, 1933–1939.” Religions 3 (2012): 99–129. [Google Scholar] See also the references in note 72 above
  163. H.S. Hughes. Between Commitment and Disillusion. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1987, p. 48. [Google Scholar]
  164. From September 1940 to December 1941, the energetic President of the New School for Social Research rescued 50 prominent European scholars through similar fellowships. Bloch never made it to the US, because he was unwilling to leave his elderly mother and a grown daughter and son behind C. Fink. Marc Bloch: A Life in History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 248–9. [Google Scholar]
  165. M. M. Postan, and E. E. Rich. “Preface.” In Cambridge Economic History of Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952, Volume 2, p. v. [Google Scholar]
  166. It is commonly told that Bloch died with the cry of "Vive la France!" on his lips. The source would seem to be the testimony of a survivor of one of the 28 victims of the massacre.
  167. See: C. Fink. Marc Bloch, 321. note 89 referring to the Perrin testimony. Also see H.S. Hughes. Between Commitment and Disillusion. 49 on Bloch's death.
  168. H.S. Hughes. Between Commitment and Disillusion, 51.
  169. See particularly ch. 10 "Vichy" of Fink, C. Marc Bloch. Bloch in his opposition to the Union des Israélites de France argued that the arbitrary construct "the Jewish people" prepared the way for ghetto or expulsion (pp. 275–6). In response he insisted: "We are French. . . . We cannot conceive another destiny than a French one. (274)" My thanks to Carole Fink for putting me in touch with some of Robert Lopez' former graduate students.
  170. A. Varsori. Roberto Lopez: l'impegno politco e civile (1938–1945). Firenze: Nicola Zanichelli, 1938, p. 234. [Google Scholar]
  171. K. Polanyi. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001. [Google Scholar]
  172. K. Polanyi-Levitt, and M. Mendell. “Karl Polanyi: His Life and Times.” Studies in Political Economy 22 (1987): 7–39, see especially 15. [Google Scholar]
  173. On Karl Polanyi, see also: S.C. Humphreys. “History, Economics, and Anthropology: The Work of Karl Polanyi.” History and Theory 8 (1969): 165–212. [Google Scholar]
  174. J.R. Stanfield. The Economic Thought of Karl Polanyi: Lives and Livelihood. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986, esp. ch.1. [Google Scholar]
  175. Ibid. 20–1.
  176. Ibid. p. 15.
  177. Ibid. p. 26.
  178. Ibid. p. 29.
  179. Ibid.
  180. K. Polanyi. Great Transformation, 3–4.
  181. See especially: K. Polanyi, C. Arensberg, and H. Pearson. “The Place of Economics in Societies.” In Trade and Market in the Early Empires. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1957, pp. 239–242. [Google Scholar]
  182. The single most prominent and influential example of this linkage must be Karl Marx's "On the Jewish Question": K. Marx. The Marx-Engels Reader. New York: Norton, 1978, pp. 26–52. [Google Scholar]
  183. K. Polanyi, C. Arensberg, and H. Pearson. “Concluding Note.” In Trade and Market. Glencoe, Ill: Free Press, 1957, p. 373. [Google Scholar]
  184. Ibid. 373–4.
  185. K. Polanyi. “The Economy as Instituted Process.” In The Sociology of Economic Life. Edited by Mark Granovetter and Richard Swedberg. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1957, p. 257. [Google Scholar]
  186. Ibid. p. 244.
  187. Ibid. p. 245.
  188. G. Duby. Early Growth of the European Economy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974. [Google Scholar] The French version was published one year earlier by Gallimard. The substance of the seminar was published as: “Pour une histoire anthropologique: la notion de réciprocité.” Annales 29 (1974): 1309–1380.
  189. The Annales issue was translated and republished with additional case studies as: “Symposium: Economic Anthropology and History: The Work of Karl Polanyi.” Research in Economic Anthropology 4 (1981): ix–285.
  190. Polanyi was also being discussed in the early seventies in the French journal La Pensée: Y. Garlan. “La place de l'économie dans les sociétés anciennes.” La Pensée 171 (1973): 118–127. [Google Scholar]
  191. For Polanyi's biography, see the references above.
  192. In part they have been so influential because interest in economic history has waned in both Jewish studies following the Holocaust and in European history following the heyday of quantitative methods in the 1980s. On the turn from economic topics in Jewish studies, see the excellent introduction by Gideon Reuveni in the edited volume on new approaches to Jewish economic history: G. Reuveni. “Prolegomena to an ‘Economic Turn’ in Jewish History.” The Economy in Jewish History: New Perspectives on the Relationship of Ethnicity and Economic Life. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010, p. 2011.
  193. Miller. “Michael Moissey Postan.” , 548–9.
  194. The volumes he published were British War Production (1952) and in collaboration with Denys Hay, and J.D. Scott. The Design and Development of Weapons, 1964.
  195. Pelikan Lewis, and Herlihy. “Robert Sabatino Lopez.” , 764.
  196. E. Michael Miller. “Moissey Postan.” , 548.
  197. Power's letters quoted above reveal her acute sensibility of Postan's outsider status when seeking a post for Postan at Oxford and Cambridge. Their own marriage met with some surprise and disapproval. Postan's marriage to a daughter of an Earl both indicates his greater integration as a Cambridge professor, and must have facilitated that integration even further. A commentator I heard at a recent conference panel devoted to Lopez' legacy quipped that Lopez was successful at Yale in part because he married the "right sort of woman" (Medieval Academy 2010, New Haven). What this meant is not quite clear as Claude Kirschen, though she may not have considered herself Jewish, was from an assimilated Jewish Belgian family and had to flee during WWII. (John Munro, personal correspondence with author, 6 March 2012).
  198. F. Lifshitz. “s.v. "Lopez, Robert S.".” , 732.
  199. Lopez however seems to have read medieval Jewish history. See his letter concerning arrangements for teaching at Hebrew University: Lopez to Shahar, 5 November 1979, Robert Sabatino Lopez Papers, Yale University, MS. 1459, Box 14, Folder 187
  200. “See too his collected articles in the Robert S. Lopez collection at the Arizona State University.” (accessed on 12 June 2012).
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