By: Joseph Jacobs
Jew under the special protection of the head of the state. In the early days of travel and commerce the Jews, like other aliens, used to apply to the ruling monarchs for letters of protection, and they obtained "commendation" when their stay was for any length of time. Such letters of protection were granted to Jews in the Carlovingian period (Stobbe, "Juden in Deutschland," p. 5). When the idea arose that all Jews of the empire were practically serfs of the emperor, he granted similar letters of protection, for which annual payment was made by the Jews; when he transferred his rights to local feudal authorities, the same or increased payments were exacted, in return for which these authorities gave the Jews "Schutzbriefe"; and when, later, wholesale expulsions took place in Germany during the sixteenth century, those Jews who returned to places from which they had been expelled were admitted only if they obtained such Schutzbriefe" for which they paid "Schutzgeld" (protection money). It was under these conditions that Jews were allowed to reenter Hesse in 1524; and similar regulations prevailed in Bavaria, where, according to the "Judenordnung" of Sept. 1, 1599, all Jews had to have either a "Schutzbrief," if they remained in the kingdom, or a "Geleit," if they passed through it (Kohut, "Gesch. der Juden," p. 554).
When the Jews of Frankfort were allowed to remain there under the conditions of the "Neue Stättigkeit" of Jan. 3, 1617, their numbers, as well as their marriages, were limited. They could not be burgesses, but only protégés of the town council ("Rathschutzangehörige"; Schudt, "Jüdische Merckwürdigkeiten," pp. 59-90). Similarly, when Frederick William, the "Great Elector," allowed fifty families which had been expelled from Austria to settle in Brandenburg, each of them was required to pay eight thaler yearly, as well as other special taxes; these had increased very much by the time Frederick the Great issued his "General-Privilegium" or "Juden Reglement" (April 17, 1750), which restricted the numbers of the Jews and classified them as "ordinary" and "extraordinary Schutzjuden," the privileges of the former passing on to one child, those of the latter being valid only during the life of the original grantee.
The Prussian Jews were collectively liable for a certain amount of "Schutzgeld." This amount was fixed at 3,000 ducats in 1700, at 15,000 thaler in 1728, and at 25,000 thaler in 1768. In 1715 every Jewish family of Metz was ordered to pay 40 livres annually for permission to stay there, and the number was limited in 1718 to 480 families. The tax was granted to Count de Brances and Countess de Fontaine (reference to this tax was made by Louis XVI. in 1784; see Jost, "Gesch." viii. 30). As time went on a further division was made among the protected Jews. In Silesia an upper class of "Schutzjuden," called the "Geduldeten," was constituted, its numbers being limited, as, for example, to 160 at Breslau, all the rest being required to pay "Schutzgeld." These limitations were removed at the same time as the Leibzoll. In Mecklenburg-Strelitz, for example, the "Schutzjude" regulation was suspended in 1812; but with the reaction following Napoleon's fall it was reinstituted (1817).