Religious difference and economic cooperation. Christian-Jewish business relations during the final phase of the Holy Roman Empire (1648–1806)
funded by: DFG
Project leadership: Apl. Prof. Dr. Michaela Schmölz-Häberlein
Obere Karolinenstraße 8
It is the overall aim of the project to systematically research and present the forms in which Jewish and Christian economic actors cooperated between the mid-seventeenth century and the end of the Holy Roman Empire as well as the business strategies and practices employed in the context of these joint ventures. By reconstructing the hitherto little-known ways of Jewish-Christian cooperation during the final phase of the Holy Roman Empire, the project intends to make a substantial and innovative contribution to the integration of economic history and Jewish history, to early modern German economic history more generally, and to our knowledge of the connections and interdependencies between state formation, economic development, and the history of religious minorities. In the present context, economic cooperation refers to forms of business interaction that went beyond single sales and credit transactions and initiated (or at least intended) the collaboration of Jewish and Christian actors over a longer time period. These include serial commissions; capital investments by Christians in Jewish commercial firms (and vice versa); initial assistance and silent participation in trading companies; the formation of Jewish-Christian commercial partnerships; as well as cooperative workshops and manufactures. The period under study coincides with the “age of the court Jews”, when numerous central European territorial states employed the services of Jewish court and army contractors in the context of mercantilist economic policies, thus enabling or at least supporting the formation of a Jewish economic elite. In spatial terms, the project covers territories in southern and central Germany which can be regarded as regional centers of Jewish life and culture on account of the number, financial prowess and cultural significance of their Jewish communities (eastern Swabia, Franconia, Hesse, Thuringia, the Kraichgau).