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1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Most Jews arriving in Stühlingen had a thorough understanding of business matters. They were familiar with sophisticated credit instruments and accounting, were literate, numerate, and able to keep business records. While some may have arrived bearing a reasonable starting capital, most probably did not. Those who came from cities had little knowledge of animal husbandry or the idiosyncrasies of agricultural products, and had no access to merchandise supply chains. They literally had to live on their hooves, which they did largely by providing the “economic yeast” that helped the market economy to rise.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The personal transaction ledger formed the core of a rural Jewish merchant’s business practice. In fact, it was more valuable than gold or silver:

After Isak of Stühlingen [B1] had escaped from Conrad of Pappenheim in 1599 and fled to the little town of Aach, his son Mayer [B1.1 together with a granddaughter were visiting Isak’s elderly wife in Stühlingen. As they were about to leave, the mother started crying disconsolately. She felt unable to handle all the debtors and creditors who had business with her husband. So Mayer and his daughter packed the account books in a little wooden case to take them to Isak. Mayer and his daughter were promptly arrested by Pappenheim’s sheriff on the way. The count was furious that no tangible valuables were found, and incarcerated Mayer for almost two years.31

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 As recorded through the lens of the seventeenth-century municipal court, today it is very difficult to interpret these business books. Furthermore, little agreement exists between parties in question as to who paid what when and how. For example, on May 16, 1652 Menckhe (C2.1.2) claimed 164 fl. capital plus another 50 fl. for a field on behalf of his father Mayerle (C.1) from the cooper and tub maker Hans Bühlmann of Eberfingen, a claim that originated in 1637. Bühlmann, on the other hand, admitted a debt of only 170 fl., including the field. Menckhe insisted that his books were correct but was willing to inquire of his brother Eli (C1.2.1), who was keeping the book. On that basis, both parties were willing to base the account tentatively on the admitted 170 fl. Let us inspect the court transcript [R1907]:

Table 2. Typical transaction with explanations. 
Explanation in document fl. Comment by author
Amount owed 170 Agreed upon amount (120fl. + 50fl.)
Accumulated interest 72  4.5% simple interest on 120fl. for 16 years
Subtotal 242  
Payments rendered -26 Both parties agree that these payments were made.
Subtotal 215  
Transfer of a claim -30 Probably an outstanding claim of Bühlmann as payment
Payment to the church in Eberfingen -5 Unclear why such a payment should be deducted from debt
Subtotal 180  
Interest on remaining for 1650/1 9  Corresponds to 5% on 180 fl. (1 year)
Subtotal 189  
Menkhe demands capital 8 No explanation
Interest on 8 fl. for 21 years 9 Simple interest at 4.5%
Total debt in 1653 207 1 fl. discrepancy

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Finally, Menckhe and Hans Bühlmann settled for a total payment of 160 fl. Of this total 100 fl. were to be paid in 1652 and the rest plus applicable interest subsequently in tranches of 10 fl. per year. The questionable 44 fl. were to be reviewed again, once the answer from Eli was received. The transcript suggests that both logic and arithmetic were fuzzy, and there was always room for compromise.

31Rosenthal, “Heimatgeschichte der badischen Juden,” 462–6.

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Source: https://www.stuehlingen.online/Book/?page_id=1596

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