Call for Papers: A Maritime Market. Jewish Enterprises and Grain Trade in Early Modern Europe

RHN 164/2017 | Call

Organisers: Luca Andreoni (Independent scholar), Luca Mocarelli (Università degli Studi di Milano “Bicocca”), Giulio Ongaro (Università degli Studi di Milano “Bicocca”)

6-8 September 2018, Ancona, Italy

Deadline for paper proposals: 10 December 2017

22nd Annual Congress of European Business History Association September 6-8, 2018, Ancona, Italy:
The Firm and the Sea: Chains, Flows and Connections

Call for Papers for a Panel Proposal:
A Maritime Market: Jewish Enterprises and Grain Trade in Early Modern Europe

The economic role played by Jews in Early Modern Europe is at the centre of growing historiographical renovation (Penslar 2001; Karp 2008, 2009; Trivellato 2009; Levine 2010; Reuveni 2011; Hilaire-Pérez, Oliel-Grausz 2013, 2014; Kobrin, Teller 2015; Romani 2017). Stressing the importance of networks and family ties, Jewish involvement in the credit market and in other fields of commerce has been widely analysed (Israel 1985; Toaff-Schwarzfuchs 1989; Horowitz-Orfali 2002; Karp 2012).

Jewish enterprises often operated by sea – the best commercial route in the ancient regime – with private fleets sometimes very considerable. The sea-ports were the areas where Jewish communities flourished; just think, for the Italian case study, of Venice (Luzzatto 1950; Ciriacono 1975; Cozzi 1987; Davis-Ravid 2001), Trieste (Yoli Zorattini 1984; Dubin 1999; Gatti 2008), Livorno (Trivellato 2009), and Ancona (Caffiero-Esposito 2012; Andreoni 2012). More, products unloaded from the ships on the seaside where moved to the inland cities through navigable rivers and then spread in the inland territories. Remaining in the Italian peninsula, this was in part the role played by the Jewish communities – on the Po River – of Mantua and Ferrara (Angelini 1973; Simonshon 1977; Graziani Secchieri 2014), again with families with private fleets aimed to connect the Adriatic see and the inland areas.

Finally, we have not to forget that the movement of products and goods could also follow the contrary path, from the productive centres (in terms both of agricultural production and manufactural one) of the mainland to the seaports, ready to be sent around Europe and the world.

However, even if the economic role played by Jewish communities and enterprises has been examined by many researches, their importance in the commerce of cereals has been not.

Not only historians interested in Jewish history neglected this topic almost entirely, but also the researchers on the grain markets in the eighteenth century, even if they refer to the presence of Jewish merchants, do not go in deep in this topic (Bateman 2011; Campbell-Ó Gráda 2011; Dobado-González, García-Hiernaux, Guerrero 2012). However, the grain market seems to be – and new archival researches seems to confirm it – a perfect field for some Jewish enterprises: it was an international market, connecting areas in Europe quite distant from each other, requiring an huge amounts of capitals, an important network in order to know prices all around Europe, and, finally, ships able to transport relevant amounts of grains. Some traditional paths of economic activity could allow to these Jewish enterprises to have an underestimated relevance.

Finally, taking into account the context of discrimination that officially governed many European areas where Jews were settled, and considering the fundamental role of the victualling system in early modern European society, often managed by State Institutions and Authorities, the role of Jewish Merchant involved in the grain market could have relevant consequences in the process of negotiating juridical condition and affect form and evolution of anti-Jews prejudice.

The aim of the panel proposal is to gather and discuss new archival (or bibliographical) evidences about Jewish enterprises involved in grain trade in the period between ca 1400 and 1850. Possible topics include:

  • The characters and the organization of Jewish enterprises involved in grain trade;
  • The role of the Jewish grain trade by sea as connection between European (but also non-European) areas;
  • The identification of trade routes and commercial points related to this market;
  • State legislation and, broadly, the role played by institutions in Jewish grain trade;
  • By sea and by rivers: the role of transports in the commerce of cereals by Jewish enterprises;
  • The relation between Jewish merchants involved in grain trade and the Early Modern State authorities: conflict, collaboration, public recognition in a context of discrimination.

We invite applications from papers dealing with these issues (but also to other ones related to the subject of the panel), in order to prepare a panel proposal for the 22nd Annual Congress of the European Business History Association, which will take place in Ancona (Italy), on September 2018, 6th-8th.

The paper proposals (not more than 800 words) should be sent before December 10th 2017 to one – or more – of the panel organizers:

Luca Andreoni:
Luca Mocarelli:
Giulio Ongaro:

For any question or doubt, please feel free to write to the panel organizers.


L. Andreoni (2012), a cura di, Ebrei nelle Marche. Fonti e ricerche (secc. XV-XIX), Il lavoro editoriale, Ancona.
W. Angelini (1973), Gli ebrei di Ferrara nel Settecento. I Coen e altri mercanti nel rapport con le pubbliche autorità, Argalia, Urbino.
V.N. Bateman (2011), The evolution of markets in early modern Europe, 1350–1800: a study of wheat prices. «The Economic History Review», 64, 2, pp. 447-471.
M. Caffiero, A. Esposito (2012), a cura di, Gli ebrei nello Stato della Chiesa. Insediamenti e mobilità (secoli XIV-XVIII), Esedra, Padova.
B.M.S. Campbell, C.Ó Gráda, Harvest Shortfalls, Grain Prices, and Famines in Preindustrial England. Journal of Economic History, Volume 71 / Issue 04 / December 2011.
S. Ciriacono (1975), Olio ed ebrei nella Repubblica Veneta del Settecento, Deputazione di Storia Patria, Venezia.
G. Cozzi (1987), a cura di, Gli ebrei e Venezia. Secoli XIV-XVIII, Milano.
R. Davis (2001), B. Ravid (a cura di), The Jews of Early Modern Venice, Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
R. Dobado-González (2012), A. García-Hiernaux and D. E. Guerrero, The Integration of Grain Markets in the Eighteenth Century: Early Rise of Globalization in the West. Journal of Economic History, Volume 72 / Issue 03 / September 2012.
L.C. Dubin (1999), The Port Jews of Habsburg Trieste. Absolutist Politics and Enlightenment Culture, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
C. Gatti (2008), Tra demografia e storia sociale. Gli ebrei di Trieste nel Settecento, Eut, Trieste.
L. Graziani Secchieri (2014), a cura di, Ebrei a Ferrara. Ebrei di Ferrara. Aspetti culturali, economici e sociali della presenza ebraica a Ferrara (secc. XIII-XX), Giuntina, Firenze.
L. Hilaire-Pérez, É. Oliel-Grausz (2013), L’histoire des juifs et de l’anglicité au prisme de l’economic turn, in Prum M., a cura di, Comparer les diversités, L’harmattan, Paris, p. 43-64.
L. Hilaire-Pérez, L., Oliel-Grausz (2014), a cura di, Histoire économique des Juifs de France, XIVe-XVIIIe siècle. Nouvelles approches, n. mon. di «Archives Juives. Revue d’histoire des Juifs de France», p. 4-9.
E. Horowitz, M. Orfali (2002), edited by, The Mediterranean and the Jews. Society, culture and economy in Early Modern times, Ramat Gan.
J. Israel (1985), European Jewry in the Age of mercantilism, Oxford.
J. Karp (2008), The Politics of Jewish Commerce. Economic Thought and Emancipation in Europe, 1638-1848, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
J. Karp (2009), An “Economic Turn” in Jewish Studies?, in «AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies», 2009, 2, p. 8-14.
R. Kobrin, Teller A. (2015), a cura di, Purchasing Power. The Economics of Modern Jewish History, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, p. 1-24.
A. Levine (2010), Introduction, in Levine A., a cura di, The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 3-25.
G. Luzzatto (1950), Sulla condizione economica degli ebrei veneziani nel secolo XVIII, in RMI, Scritti in onore di Riccardi Bachi, XVI, pp. 161-172.
D. Penslar (2001). Shylock’s Children. Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, University of California Press.
G. Reuveni G. (2011). Prolegomena to an “Economic Turn” in Jewish History, in Reuveni G., Wobick-Segev S., a cura di, The Economy in Jewish History: New Perspectives on the Interrelationship between Ethnicity and Economic Life, New York-Oxford, Berghahn, p. 1-20.
M. Romani (2017), a cura di, Storia economica e storia degli ebrei. Istituzioni, capitale sociale e stereotipi (secc. XV-XVIII), Franco Angeli, Milano.
S. Simonshon (1977), History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem.
A. Toaff, S. Schwarzfuchs (1989), a cura di, The Mediterranean and the Jews: Finance and International Trade (XVIth-XVIIIth Centuries), Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan.
F. Trivellato (2009), The Familiarity of Strangers. The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period, New Haven: Yale University Press.
P.C. Yoli Zorattini (1984), Gli ebrei a Gorizia e Trieste tra “ancien regime” ed emancipazione, Udine.

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