Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2011 Hannah Claire G. Purkey. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Robert S. DuPlessis

Second Advisor

Stephen P. Bensch


In her thesis, Hannah Purkey delves into the life of a Jewish moneylender and the relationships to his borrowers in Castelló d’Empúries, a small Catalonian town, from 1323-1331. She analyzes the individual and unusually rich notarial register devoted to Isaac Ravalla, records of the economic dealings of a single lender and his son over eight years. This demonstrates the ongoing trust built between a Jewish lending family and its Christian clients, which provides evidence to contradict the stereotypical “Shylock” image of mistrust between Jewish lender and Christian borrower. It also discusses the risks taken by lenders in their expansion out into rural areas and compares this to modern non-profit microlending. Purkey also addresses the feasibility of making a profit from this kind of lending, as the Ravalla family did.