Usury, Calvinism, And Credit In Protestant England: From The Sixteenth Century To The Industrial Revolution
This paper analyzes the impact of Protestantism on interest rates in England from the 16th century to the Industrial Revolution. One of many myths about the usury doctrine - the prohibition against demanding anything above the principal in a loan (mutuum) - is that it ceased to be observed in Reformation Europe. As several authors have demonstrated, however, early Protestant Reformers, beginning with Luther, had essentially endorsed the long established Scholastic usury doctrines. The one major exception was Jean Calvin. Though retaining a strong hostility against usury, he permitted interest on commercial loans, while forbidding 'Usury' on charitable loans to the needy.