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Rowan Dorin


The Wallace K. Ferguson Prize


Rowan DorinNo Return: Jews, Christian Usurers, and the Spread of Mass Expulsion in Medieval Europe. Princeton University Press, 2023.

In this methodical, passionate and detailed work, Rowan Dorin re-examens the question of the expulsion of usurers from late medieval Europe.  Dorin bases his demonstration on a simple but essential postulate: the expulsion of Jewish lenders in Western Europe can only be fully understood if it is placed in the larger and less restrictive category of the expulsion of all usurers.  Usury was never a monopoly of European Jewry. Moreover expulsion was not a tool of governance until its emergence in the 12th and 13th centuries as a means to punish usurers.

Through rigorous argumentation and trenchant archival analysis, the author reveals that all the major European states that ordered the expulsion of their Jewish communities also decreed the ejection of foreign Christian usurers. Why was this the case?  How did this happen?  What discourses and procedures were used to implement such a European policy of expelling ‘foreigners’?

No Return is an original work of considerable scholarship, constructed and written with precision and aplomb on the basis of a sweeping corpus of unpublished sources.  To reconstruct the process that brought about the expulsion of foreigners, Jews and Christians alike, Dorin pays close attention to space and mobility, skillfully masters the theoretical and legal discourses, and delves into the ideas and practices that legitimised the condemnation of usury.  No Return lays out an increasingly predictable, even natural, political and sovereign act: each banishment became the driving force behind the next; each expulsion fed into a jurisprudence of exclusion available to sovereigns.

As with Doris Bergen’s impressive short-listed study Between God and Hitler; Military Chaplains in Nazi Germany, Dorin brings an extremely sophisticated reading of an important period in Jewish history, the legacy of which is still with us.  He offers us an unprecedented history, itself a model of critical history, of the legacy of the expulsion of both Jewish and Christian moneylenders in late medieval Europe.

SHORT LIST – In alphabetical order 

Doris L. BergenBetween God and Hitler. Military Chaplains in Nazi Germany. Cambridge University Press, 2023.
Rowan DorinNo Return: Jews, Christian Usurers, and the Spread of Mass Expulsion in Medieval Europe. Princeton University Press, 2023.
Kyle JacksonThe Mizo Discovery of the British Raj. Empire and Religion in Northeast India, 1890-1920. Cambridge University Press, 2023.
Kenneth MouréMarché Noir. The Economy of Survival in Second World War France. Cambridge University Press, 2023.
David C. PorterSlaves of the Emperor. Service, Privilege, and Status in the Qing Eight Banners. Columbia University Press, 2023.