A: The first blackmailers were Scottish landlords who exploited farmers by making them pay rent in livestock or services if they couldnâ€™t pay in cash. Unfortunately for them, the goods they had to hand over were usually worth more than the rent owed, and the landlords didnâ€™t make change.
Around the same time, however, local chieftains started going after the same farmers with the kind of scheme the mafia usually refers to as â€śselling insurance.â€ť They made an offer the farmers couldnâ€™t refuse: protection for a fee. If the farmers didnâ€™t pay, then the chieftains would unfortunately be unable to prevent ruffians from destroying crops and sacking property.
A raw deal to say the least, the Scottish farmers referred to both types of those situations as â€śblackâ€ť because they associated it with the color with evil. They also called it black because both payments were made in goods rather than silver coins (called â€śwhite moneyâ€ť). As for the â€śmailâ€ť part, it doesnâ€™t refer to the postal system. That â€śmailâ€ť comes from the German word for â€śpouch.â€ť The â€śmailâ€ť in the black mail is related to the Old Norse word for â€śpaymentâ€ť or â€śagreement.â€ť