parishioners were in any case not likely to heed sermons against birth control.5
Nonetheless, Christianity's greatest impact was no doubt on labour markets, not on financial transactions or the 'marriage' market. Theological arguments against lending at interest had come under attack by the end of the Middle Ages, and by the seventeenth century there were enough loopholes in both Protestant and Catholic lands to allow all sorts of innovative financial transactions, from stock markets in Amsterdam to short-term money markets in Lyon. And the eighteenth century, with its stock market bubbles in London and Paris, witnessed even more financial innovation. It is doubtful whether the legislation restricting marriages was very effective either, for even in Catholic lands a young couple could often get an exemption, and from an economic perspective marriages between individuals who were not related might actually have been beneficial because it would help couples diversify their assets. And whether they were Protestant or Catholic, the other European countries were much slower to adopt birth control than was France.
Where Christianity made its most definitive mark was thus in the abolition of the slave trade and in the contribution Protestant and Catholic Reformers made to the campaign to reduce the number of feast days. There are of course still other ways that Christianity affected the economy: the religious intolerance of the period, for example, divided Protestant from Catholic and Christian from Jew, thereby making it impossible for many individuals to trade with one another. The economic damage this lamentable intolerance did, however, has yet to be determined.
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