After his father ran up huge debts, German Margrave Casimir forced him to abdicate and took over. He put the creditors in charge of running Brandenburg-Bayreuth, and they began squeezing the peasants, many of whom soon became hopelessly indebted themselves.
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In 1525, riots broke out and bands of armed villagers began to loot castles, cathedrals and monasteries. Unable to raise an army, Casimir hired mercenaries, who swept across his realm killing women and children and pillaging towns.
After the uprising was put down, Casimir received an itemized bill for the help: 80 beheaded, 69 eyes put out and fingers cut off costing a grand total of 114 1/2 florins.
I spoke with David Graeber, author of “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” on the following topics:
1. First Credit, Then Barter
2. Military Cash Markets
3. Debt and Morality
4. Human vs. Market Economics
5. The Scourge of Debt
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