The book makes three main interventions. First is the use of Jewish economic history to understand both the development of Jewish society and its relations with the surrounding world. The methodology of New institutional economics, emphasizing the connection between economic and cultural factors, is employed. Second is the study of the Jews’ economic roles in the specific context of magnate estates in eighteenth-century Poland-Lithuania. In this late feudal setting, Jews achieved enormous financial success, which they translated into improved social status and even power. This process is at the heart of the analysis here. Third is the history of the Radziwiłł family and its estates in Lithuania. From a low point at the beginning of the period, the family reached the pinnacle of its power at the end. This rise was based on increased estate incomes, the importance for which of Jewish economic activity is examined here.
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