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Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the Persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire

55 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2016 Last revised: 10 May 2016

Theresa S Finley

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: April 22, 2016

Abstract

This paper explores the institutional determinants of persecution by studying the intensity of the Black Death pogroms in the Holy Roman Empire. Political fragmentation exacerbated rent-seeking in the Holy Roman Empire. We argue that this fragmentation led to Jewish communities facing more intense persecutions during the Black Death. We test this argument using data on the intensity of pogroms, historical trade routes, ecclesiastical and political boundaries. In line with our model, we find that communities close to Archbishoprics, Bishoprics, and Imperial Free cities experienced more intense and violent persecutions than did those governed by the emperor. We discuss the implications this has for the enforcement of the rule of law in weak states.

Keywords: Black Death, Political Fragmentation, Legal Fragmentation, State Capacity, Jewish History, Persecution

JEL Classification: N13, N43, K00

Suggested Citation

Finley, Theresa S and Koyama, Mark, Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the Persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire (April 22, 2016). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 16-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2761524 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2761524

Theresa Finley

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Mark Koyama (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About.html

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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