Merchant of Venice

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Jews and Christians in Renaissance Venice as Portrayed by Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice Benjamin Ravid, Robert Finlay, and Walter Cohen all have their own way of explaining the Jews in Venice in their articles. There is no argument that Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice contradicts and is over exaggerated when it is compared to each one of their articles, although there are many situations and events that occur in the play that relate to the historical reality of the relationship of Jews and Christians in Venice. Benjamin Ravid’s article, “The Legal Status of the Jewish Merchants of Venice, 1541-1638,” speaks about how the Jews of Venice were treated, along with their legal status and economic activities. In the fourteenth century Jewish moneylenders, which is the sale of all activities other than overseas commerce, were settled in Venice, but it wasn’t until 1509 when they were finally recognized of their importance as a source of revenue by the Venetian government and were allowed to remain in the city. Living in the city was not going to be easy. The Jews, including Jewish merchants, were forced into many restrictions which included having to wear a yellow hat and having to live in what was called the ghetto nuovo. Basically, the Venetians were tolerant of Jews as long as they were all lodged together in one place. Eventually around 1541 the ghetto started to overcrowd adding another restriction of Jews having to leave their families before coming, and only being able to stay for four months. But after the four months were up, it turned into residing there for two years than to only one year. Things changed after the Venetian-Turkish War of 1570-1573 when Daniel Rodriga and the Venetian government wanted to establish a major commercial center at the Venetian town of Spalato with the intention of diverting trade from the Ragusa-Ancona route to Venice. After many attempts, the request of a long-term residence was granted to the Jewish...
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