In the Middle Ages, Christians were forbidden to lend money against interest. At the same time, the increasing power of the guilds excluded Jews from most occupations that were reserved for Christians. Since there was a shortage of capital, and they were barred from most professions, Jews took to money lending. Rates of interest were high because of the risks involved and the lack of capital. Over many years, the Jews were scapegoated and stereotyped as grasping, heartless people.
Last modified 22 January 2002