I was reading the Wikipedia page for the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and this picture was featured to demonstrate the diverse society. It is propably a parody of various pictures called "Lamentation over the dead Christ." What is the "Dead Credit"?


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"dead credit" isn't a concept, it is a metaphor. See the notes: "Verse commentary in Polish presents mourning over the personalized credit (buying on credit I warn you, do not go anywhere without money - Przestrzegam was nie chodźcie nigdzie bez pieniędzy):"

The community are mourning the loss of credit. I'm not sure what event caused them to lose credit privileges, but the cartoon is treating death as a metaphor for loss. There is also an obvious, irreverent reference to the Lamentation over the dead Christ.

The peasants, who had traditionally constituted a vital part of the town merchants' clientele, now impoverished and forced by their feudal masters to limit their purchases to what was produced or sold within their home estate, largely stopped plying their role in the internal market. The market became confounded further by the monetary crisis, warfare destruction and the fact that some of the most major Poland's and Lithuania's municipal centers were lost to the neighboring states, either permanently or at times of reversals of military fortunes. wikipedia

I think if I had infinite time, I'd research this as evidence of the role of consumption and credit in early capitalist economies.

  • Sounds like a catastrophic deflation to me, such as the Great Depression, with the entire community suffering and not just those denied credit. Oct 9, 2014 at 6:44

Using Jairus Banaji's lovely Theory as History (Haymarket/Brill) he goes into depth into the role of early capitalism in reinfeudating Poland. (First four chapters iirc).

The Eastern Baltic ended up being the granary of Western Europe. This put pressure on landlords over a long period of time to extract the maximum cash / good-as-cash that they could from those beneath them. (Note: not profit, their interest was raw volume.)

The destruction of local credit would have been part of the reduction and degradation of peasant households towards subsistence and the formation of the "large estates."

Genuine distress in the scene appears to be felt by the tailor and the tradeswoman. The others are still, in some way, beneficiaries. Which is strange because this is a colour block print, so I'd assume aimed more at village and town recipients than peasantry. Also, it's curious as to who'd fund this propaganda.

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