Chief town of the department of Vaucluse, France; until 1702 capital of the small independent principality of the same name. The earliest documents relating to the settlement of Jews in Orange date from the fourteenth century. Accused of usury and dissolute conduct, they were penalized by heavy laws, were forbidden to bear witness against Christians without the prince's mandate, and were excluded from office, besides being heavily taxed and compelled to furnish six men for the town guard ("Archives Municipales d'Orange," A A i., and B B, fols. 81, 82). In 1477 they were excluded from the wheat traffic. Despite a demand for their expulsion (ib. B B, 7, fol. 68), the Jews were favored by the prince, to whom they paid an annual tax of 300 crowns (ib. G G, fol. 50). After reiterated demands on the part of the municipality for their expulsion the prince offered to consent if the city would take upon itself the Jew tax. This was at first refused; but on the influx of persecuted Jews from other countries the municipality consented to pay 300 crowns a year. Thereupon the Jews were banished (April 20, 1505) by the regent Philibert of Luxemburg, at the instigation of the bishop. They, however, received two months' grace, and those who accepted baptism were permitted to remain (ib.). Economic crises rapidly followed; and from 1550 to 1556 negotiations for the return of the Jews were carried on, but without result (ib. B B 12, fol. 281; 14, fols. 36, 38; 15, fols. 104 et seq.).
The lamentable condition into which the country had fallen compelled the municipality in 1669 to authorize the return of a limited number of Jews (ib. 17, fol. 50); and it was decided to obtain permission for the construction and occupation of 200 Jewish houses (ib. 17, fol. 60). In June, 1687, the Jews were again expelled. Some, who appear to have escaped expulsion, were driven out in 1703; but in 1720 three families which still remained were protected against the demands of the council by the Comte de Médavy. In revenge the council ordered these Jews to wear yellow hats "under penalty of having their beards shaved" (ib. fol. 38).
There are now (1904) about twenty Jewish families in Orange, in a total population of 9,980.
- Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 18.