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Wealth Admired; Wealth Hated: Managing Money and Power in 15th.-c. Basel


March 7, 2013
5:15 pm - 6:30 pm
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Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center
Stanford, CA,

Lecture by Laura Stokes, Assistant Professor, Stanford University Department of History.  Co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Part of a series of lectures and colloquia on Religion and Wealth. Free and open to the public.

Abstract: When Uly Mörnach was found murdered on a cold November morning in 1502, no one was surprised. He had been the most hated member of the butchers’ guild, and the other guildsmen had conspired to kill him. The most powerful member of that conspiracy was Caspar David. David and Mörnach were cousins, both wealthy butchers of roughly equal standing. While Mörnach died a violent death, and his family disappeared from the city within a generation thereafter, David escaped any blame for the murder, and his family rose in the ruling elite of the city. This intense contrast between their fates derived from their very different stances on the ethics of personal liberty and wealth.

About the speaker: Laura Stokes is assistant professor of History at Stanford University, where she has been since 2007. Her first book (Demons of Urban Reform: Early European Witch Trials and Criminal Justice) dealt with the prosecution of witchcraft in fifteenth-century Switzerland, unmasking the relationship between reforming zeal in the late Middle Ages and increasingly harsh criminal justice. She is currently working on a microhistory about greed, honor, and violence in early modern Basel (The Murder of Uly Mörnach) and a larger work on the quotidian economic culture of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries (Social History of Greed in the Age of the Reformation).