Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Golden age of early 14th century

 Lithuanians were the last pagans in Europe and did not convert to Catholicism until 1387.
When Spain and Germany were busy expelling Jews in 1323, Grand Duke Gediminius of Vilnius sought to welcome them. Gediminius wrote a letter inviting artisans, traders, and builders of any nationality to come help build the city of Vilnius. That was the invitation that brought so many Jews to Lithuania and it was a golden age, for Jews and for the city of Vilnius. During the lifetime of Gediminius, Jews flourished and were free to pursue all professions, of course including banking.
Unfortunately for the Jews, the successor to Gediminius, Grand Duke Alexander, was not so good managing his finances and he found himself deep in financial debt for which it was convenient to expell all Jews to flush them away with his bankers in 1495. Five years later Jews were invited back without penalty; Conveniently, the old debts were never paid.

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