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Steuss, David

STEUSS, DAVID

STEUSS, DAVID (d. 1387 or 1388), head of a family of bankers in Austria. The Steuss were the most important financiers of their time, serving Austrian and foreign rulers, ecclesiastical lords, and noblemen. The grandfather of David, banker of the first Hapsburgs in Austria, moved from Klosterneuburg to Vienna in 1241. David, son of Hendlin, was the banker of Duke Albert ii and archdukes Rudolf iv and Albert iii, financing their campaigns and the construction of St. Stephen's in Vienna. Among other business ventures he lent a considerable sum to the city of Bruenn. Steuss had business relationships with the city of Vienna, heads of the Church, and government officials far from the borders of Austria. He was exempt from all jurisdiction excepting that of the archduke himself. He collected and allocated the contributions levied on the Jews and was able to amass great wealth, but was finally imprisoned in 1382 by Albert iii in order to extort an exorbitant sum of money. The business records of the Steuss family with Hebrew marginals have been preserved, and the names of David, his sons Jonah, Jacob, and Hendlin, and other relatives appear frequently in debt registers. David's son-in-law was the celebrated Vienna rabbi *Meir b. Baruch ha-Levi. The archduke's treasurer Bishop John of Brixen characterized David as an honest and wise man. At one time in 1364 he lent money to Bishop John who designated his cathedral as collateral. David's son Jonah died a victim of the Vienna persecutions of 1420 (*Wiener Gesera) when the Steuss properties were confiscated by the archduke.

bibliography:

J.E. Scherer, Rechtsverhaeltnisse der Juden in deutsch-oesterreichischen Laendern (1921), 398–9; S. Krauss, Wiener Geserah von dem Jahre 1421 (1920), index; Juedisches Jahrbuch fuer Oesterreich (1932/33), 132–5; rej, 96 (1933), 199–209; M. Grunwald, Vienna (1936), index; B. Bretholz, Bruenn (1938), 66; Baron, Social2, 9 (1965).

[Hugo Knoepfmacher]

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