ROUEN (Hebrew, , and more rarely ):
Ancient capital of Normandy, and now the administrative center of the department of Seine-Inférieure; situated on the right bank of the Seine. The settlement of Jews in the city dates in all probability from the Roman period. The first document, however, concerning the community contains an account in Hebrew of a terrible persecution which the Jews of Rouen and of other localities experienced at the beginning of the eleventh century. Therein it is said that Robert the Pious having concerted with his vassals to destroy all the Jews on their lands who would not accept baptism, many were put to death or killed themselves. Among the martyrs was the learned Rabbi Senior. An influential and highly esteemed man in Rouen, Jacob ben Jekuthiel, went to Rome to invoke for his coreligionists the protection of the pope; and the pontiff sent a high dignitary to put a stop to the persecution (Berliner's "Magazin," iii.; "Oẓar Ṭob," pp. 46-48).
In 1066 numerous Jews of Rouen emigrated to England, having been induced to settle there by William the Conqueror, who, while still in Normandy, had always protected them. His son, William Rufus, showed himself no less favorably inclined toward them. On a complaint of the Jews of Rouen to the effect that many of their coreligionists had been forced to embrace Christianity, William Rufus not only allowed the converted to return to their old faith, but himself actually persuaded some of them to do so.
In 1096 the Rouen community was totally destroyed by the Crusaders. It seems, however, that it was reestablished shortly after, although there is no official document showing the further presence of Jews at Rouen before 1204. In that year a Rouen Jew named Brunius, son of Bonentia, was authorized to live at the Châtalet in Paris. In 1217 Philip Augustus imposed upon the Jews of Normandy a heavy tax, to which the community of Rouen contributed 595 livres. This relatively small sum shows that at that time the Rouen Jews were neither numerous nor rich; while, according to an official document of 1299, the personal taxes of only one Jew of Rouen, a certain Samuel Viole, amounted to 1,200 livres yearly. A certain Calot of Rouen figures in the registers of the Jewish imposts for the years l296 to 1300 as the financial intermediary between his coreligionists and Philip the Fair. In an official document of 1297 Calot is said to have been chosen umpire in a dispute between Philip and his brother Charles, Count of Valois, concerning the property of some Jews. On the banishment of the Jews fromFrance, in 1306, Philip presented the Jewish quarter to the municipality, which established there a vegetable market. This quarter, in which Maranos settled in great numbers, still bears the name "Rue des Juifs." After the Revolution Jews began to settle at Rouen; and a community was gradually formed which became in 1876 a rabbinate. The sole incumbent of the office has been Benjamin Cahen.
- Depping, Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age, pp. 141-142, Paris, 1834;
- Jost. Gesch. der Israeliten. v. 106;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. xx. 44;
- Pieciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, p. 2, London, 1875;
- W. Baekar, Chronicle of the Kings of England, p.23;
- Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 622.