FRANCE (formerly called Gaul):
- Church Laws Against Jews.
- —Roman-Gallic Epoch:
- Merovingian Period:
- Decrees of Church Councils.
- Under Childebert and Chilperic.
- Conversion of Jews.
- Under Dagobert.
- Carlovingian Period:
- "King of the Jews" at Narbonne.
- Under Charlemagne.
- Under Louis le Débonnaire.
- Agobard's Account.
- Amulo's "Against the Jews."
- The First Capets—987-1137:
- Persecution of Jews in Limoges and Rouen.
- Franko-Jewish Literature.
- The Crusades:
- R. Tam in the Second Crusade.
- Blood Accusation.
- Expulsion from France, 1182.
- The "Tosafot."
- Centers of Rabbinic Learning.
- In the South.
- Provençal Learning.
- Halakic Studies.
- RABaD and RaMBaM.
- The Translators.
- Thirteenth Century. Northern France:
- Recalled by Philip Augustus, 1198.
- Innocent III.
- Under Louis VIII. and St. Louis.
- Increased Restrictions Under St. Louis.
- Disputations Between Jews and Christians.
- Burning of the Talmud.
- Under Philip the Bold and Philip the Fair.
- Blood Accusation and Host Desecration.
- Increasing Taxation.
- Exile of 1306.
- Thirteenth Century. Southern France:
- Policy of Alphonse of Poitiers.
- Relations with the Inquisition.
- The Schools of Paris and Elsewhere.
- Jewish Learning in Southern France.
- Polemics and Apologetics.
- Maimonists and Anti-Maimonists.
- Dispute About Philosophical Studies
- Return of the Jews to France, 1315:
- Under Philip V.
- Under Charles IV.
- Conditions at Tours.
- Under John the Good.
- Under Charles V.
- Under Charles VI.
- Levi b. Gershon.
- Narboni, Kalonymus, and Others.
- The Rest of France.
- Beginnings of Emancipation.
- Debates in the National Assembly.
- During the Reign of Terror.
- Attitude of Napoleon.
- The Sanhedrin.
- The Consistories.
- After the Restoration.
- State Recognition.
- Mode of Consistorial Election.
- Reform in France.
Country forming the most westerly part of Central Europe.Church Laws Against Jews. —Roman-Gallic Epoch:
The banishment of Archelaus to Vienne in Gaul in the year 6 (Josephus, "Ant." xvii. 13, §§ 2-3; idem, "B. J." ii. 7, § 3; Dion Cassius Cocceianus, "Hist. Romæ," lv. 27; Strabo, xvi. 2, 46), and that of Herod Antipas to Lugdunum (Lyons) in the year 39 (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 7, § 2, but differently in "B. J." ii. 9, § 6), were assuredly not the determining factors in the Jewish immigration into the Gallic provinces. The immigration was due rather to economic causes and to chance trading-journeys. There is no documentary proof of the presence of Jews in this country dating earlier than the fourth century, but they were certainly there before that period. Hilary of Poitiers (died 366) is praised for having fled from their society (Venantius Fortunatus, "Vita S. Hilarii," iii.). A decree of the emperors Theodosius II. and Valentinian III., addressed to Amatius, prefect of Gaul (July 9, 425), prohibited Jews and pagans from practising law and from holding public offices ("militandi"), in order that Christians should not be in subjection to them, and thus be incited to change their faith ("Constit. Sirmond." vi., ed. Hoenel, "Corpus Juris Antejustin." i. 458). At the funeral of Hilary, Bishop of Arles, in 449, Jews and Christians mingled in crowds and wept, while the former sang psalms in Hebrew (Honoratus "Vita Hilarii," 22; "Prosperi et Honorati Opera," ed. Salinas, p. 304, Rome, 1732). From the year 465 the Church took official cognizance of the Jews. The Council of Vannes (465) for bade the clergy to partake of the meals of the Jews or to invite them to their own, because, Christian food being placed under the ban by the Jews, the clergy would appear inferior to them if they accepted Jewish food while the Jews refused to eat the food which Christians offered them ("Concil. Vanet." can. 12; Mansi, "Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio," vii. 954). In 472 Sidonius Apollinarius recommended a Jew to Eleutherius of Tournai, saying that "these people are accustomed to having good causes to plead." On two occasions in 473 he made use of the services of a Jew named Gozolas to send a letter to one of his correspondents. At the same date he recommended another Jew, who had been baptized, to Nonnechius, Bishop of Nantes ("Sidon. Apollin." ed. Baret, iii. 8, p. 252; iv. 8, p. 277; vi. 8, p. 350; viii. 4, p. 410).
Jews were found in Marseilles in the sixth century (Gregory of Tours, "Historia Francorum," v. 11, vi. 17; Gregory the Great, "Epistol. Greg." 1, 47; Migne, lxxvii. 500), at Arles (ib. vii. 24), at Uzès ("Vita Ferreoli"), at Narbonne (Gregory of Tours, viii. 1), at Clermont-Ferrand (ib. iv. 12; v. 11), at Orleans (Gregory, "Vit. Patr." vi. 7), at Paris, and at Bordeaux (Gregory, "De Virt. S. Martini," 3, 50). These places were generally centers of Roman administration, located on the great commercial routes, and there the Jews possessed synagogues (for Clermont, see Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc." v. 11; for Orleans, ib. viii. 1). In harmony with the Theodosian code, and according to an edict addressed in 331 to the decurions of Cologne by the emperor Constantine, the internal organization of the Jews seems to have been the same as in the Roman empire. They appear to have had priests (rabbis or ḥazzanim?), archisynagogues, patersynagogues, and other synagogue officials ("Cod. Theod." 4, xvi. 8: "Hieros et archisynagogos et patres synagogarum et ceteros qui synagogis deserviunt").
The Jews were principally merchants (Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc." iv. 12, 35; vi. 5, "Concil. Matisc." can. 2; Mansi, ix. 932) and slave-dealers ("Epist. Greg." 7, 24; Migne, lxxvii. 877); they were also tax-collectors (Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc." vii. 23), sailors (idem, "De Gloria Conf." 97), and physicians (idem, "Hist. Franc." v. 6).
They probably remained under the Roman law until the triumph of Christianity, with the status established by Caracalla—on a footing of equality with their fellow citizens. The emperor Constantius (321) compelled them to share in the curia, a heavy burden imposed on citizens of townships ("Cod. Theod." 3, xvi. 8). There is nothing to show that their association with their fellow citizens was not of an amicable nature, even after the establishment of Christianity in Gaul. It is known that the Christian clergy participated in their feasts ("Council of Agda," 506); intermarriage between Jews and Christians sometimes occurred (Council of Orleans, 533); the Jews made proselytes, and their religious customs were so freely adopted that at the third Council of Orleans (539) it was found necessary to warn the faithful against Jewish "superstitions," and to order them to abstain from traveling on Sunday and from adorning their persons or dwellings on that day.Merovingian Period: Decrees of Church Councils.
During this period the Church endeavored to modify existing conditions in the interests of Christianity. In the provincial councils the bishops adopted a series of measures for the purpose of creating a chasm between Jews and Christians, and of marking the inferiority of the Jews. As stated above, the Council of Vannes prohibited the clergy from taking their meals with them ("Concil. Vanet." can. 12; Mansi, vii. 954; compare the action of the Council of Elvira in 305). This prohibition was repeated at the Council of Agda in 506 ("Concil. Agath." can. 40; Mansi, viii. 331), again at the Council of Epaon in 517 ("Concil. Epaon." can. 15; Mansi, viii. 561), and once more at the third Council of Orleans ("Concil. Aurel." iii. can. 13; Mansi, ix. 15). The second Council of Orleans (533), that of Clermont (535), and that of Orleans (538) prohibited all intermarriage of Jews and Christians. Christians who would not agree to dissolve such unions were to be excommunicated ("Concil. Aurel." ii. can. 19; Mansi, viii. 838; "Concil. Arvern." can. 6; Mansi, viii. 861; "Concil. Aurel." iii. can. 13; Mansi, ix15). The Council of Clermont (535) forbade the appointing of Jews as judges ("Concil. Arvern." can. 9; Mansi, viii. 861). The third Council of Orleans (538) and again that of Mâcon (581) decreed that "since, by the grace of God, we live under the rule of Catholic kings," the Jews should not appear among Christians for four consecutive days after Good Friday ("Concil. Aurel." iii. can. 30; Mansi, ix. 19; "Concil. Matisc." can. 14; Mansi, ix. 934). The fourth Council of Orleans (541) decreed among other things that whenever a Jew made a proselyte ("advena"), or reconverted to his religion a Jew who had been baptized, or possessed himself of a Christian slave, or converted to Judaism any one born of Christian parents, he should be punished by the loss of all his slaves. If any one born of Christian parents became a Jew, and obtained his freedom on condition of remaining such, the condition must be considered void, for it was unjust that one living as a Jew should enjoy the freedom attaching to Christian birth ("Concil. Aurel." iv. can. 31; Mansi, ix. 118). The Council of Mâcon (581) reiterated the prohibition against appointing Jews as judges, and closed to them also the office of tax-collector, "in order that Christians may not be subjected to those whom God rejects" ("Concil. Matisc." can. 13; Mansi, ix. 934). To the prohibition against appearing in public during Holy Week were added the obligation to show reverence to ecclesiastics and the interdiction against walking before them. Those who broke this law were to be punished by the local magistrates (ib. can. 14; Mansi, ib.). Despite the decrees of previous councils, Jews living in some of the towns continued to hold Christian slaves. The Council of Mâcon, therefore, decreed that such slaves were to be ransomed for twelve sous, and either be set at liberty or continue in servitude under their new masters. If the Jews refused to free them, the slave, until his master accepted the price of his redemption, should be free to dwell among Christians wherever he chose. If a Jew succeeded in converting a Christian slave to Judaism he lost his property rights over that slave and the right of making him an object of testamentary bequest (ib. can. 16; Mansi, ix. 935). The Council of Narbonne forbade Jews to sing psalms at burials of their own people; those who transgressed this decree were compelled to pay a fine to the lord of the city ("Concil. Narbon." can. 9; Mansi, ix. 1016). The fifth Council of Paris (614) prohibited the Jews from asking or from exercising civic or administrative rights over Christians, unless they and their families should accept baptism from the bishop of the place ("Concil. Paris," v. can. 17; Mansi, x. 542). The same prohibition was renewed at the Council of Rheims in 624-625 ("Concil. Rem." can. 11; Mansi, x. 596). This council returned to the question of Christian slaves and decreed that if a Jew converted or tormented his Christian slaves they should revert to the state treasury (ib.).Under Childebert and Chilperic.
It may be seen that these different measures were not in any way founded upon the supposition that the Jews were morally debased, but harmonized rather with the views of theologians and politicians. The Church, it will be observed, no longer content with issuing prohibitions concerning the conduct of Christians with relation to the Jews, now placed Jews themselves, in certain cases, under its own jurisdiction, and at the same time made it to the interest of the civil authorities to assist in carrying out its measures. The council found it necessary also to obtain the sanction of the temporal power for its canons, an aim which it pursued unflaggingly and with much success, for the Merovingian kings in general showed themselves willing to accept its authority. Yet they were not all submissive to the requests of the clergy. Pope Gregory the Great (599) rebuked Queen Brunhilda, Thierry, king of the Burgundians, and Theodebert, king of Austrasia, for allowing the Jews to hold Christian slaves. But such resistance was infrequent: the power of the Church at that time, in an almost barbarous state, is well known. Childebert was the first fanatic king, and he ratified the decisions of the third Council of Orleans concerning the presence of Jews in public during Holy Week ("Concil. Matisc." can. 14; Mansi, xiv. 836; according to Boretius, however, it is not certain that the article became a part of the constitution; (see "Beiträge zur Capitularienkritik," p. 21). He banished Ferreol (555), the Bishop of Uzès, for having had too friendly relations with the Jews ("Vita Ferreoli, apud Marcus Antonius Dominicy, Ausberti Familia Rediviva," App., p. 27, Paris, 1648). Chilperic was similarly influenced. In 582 he drove many Jews to the baptismal font, but they were not all sincere, and many returned to their former "perfidy." He employed as treasurer or as purchasing agent a Jew named Priscus, whom he had vainly urged to be baptized, and whom, happening once to be at Nogentsur-Marne, he even asked Gregory of Tours to convert. Finally, he cast him into prison "in order to compel him to believe despite himself." Priscus promised to come to a conclusion in due time. In the interval a dispute arose between Priscus and a certain Phatir, a converted Jew for whom the king had stood sponsor. While Priscus was on his way to the synagogue with his companions Phatir slew him, and took refuge in the basilica of St. Julien. The murderer was afterward killed in the kingdom of Gontran by the relatives of Priscus (Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc." vi. 17). Gontran was in no way inferior to Chilperic in point of fanaticism. On the occasion of his entry into the city of Orleans (585), as the Jews had joined with the population in "singing his praises in their own tongue," the king said at table: "Wo unto this wicked and perfidious Jewish race, that thrives only by knavery. To-day they were lavish with their blatant flattery; all people, said they, should reverence me as their lord, and this only to induce me to rebuild at the state's expense their synagogue which the Christians destroyed long ago. That I shall never do, for God forbids it" (Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc." viii. 1). Clotaire II., who had been raised to the throne at a prelates' congress, hastened to legalize (Oct. 18, 614) the canon of the fifth Council of Paris (Oct. 10, 614) relating to the Jews ("Chlotar. Edit." cap. x., ed. Boretius, i. 22). Gondebaud, fourth king of the Burgundians, in his struggleagainst Clovis (500) had been exposed to the enmity of the clergy. Forced to submit, he agreed to embrace Christianity. It was then that what is known as the "Loi Gombette" was drawn up, which among other things forbade all marriage between Jews and Christians, such unions, in accordance with the law of Theodosius IX., being declared adulterous by the "Loi Gombette" ("Lex Rom. Burg." tit. xix. 4; "Monum. Germ. LL." iii. 609). About the year 517 the same Gondebaud prescribed, in the law which is attributed to him, that any Jew who struck or kicked a Christian should be punished by having his hand cut off, though he might compromise by paying a compensation of 75 sous and a fine of 12 sous. For striking a priest the penalty was death and confiscation of property ("Libr Leg. Gundob." 102, 1-3; "Monum. Germ. LL." iii. 573).Conversion of Jews.
In order to insure the public triumph of the Church, the clergy endeavored to bring the Jews to the acceptance of baptism. A certain Simon who was converted about the year 350 even became Bishop of Metz ("Pauli et Petri Carmina," 25, 25: Migne, "Patrol. Lat., Poet. Lat. Carol." i. 60). The Council of Agda (506) determined the conditions on which Jews were admitted to baptism. Ferreol, Bishop of Uzès, converted them by living in familiar intercourse with them. Having been severely rebuked for this by Childebert, Ferreol ordered the Jews of his diocese to meet in the Church of St. Theodoric, and preached to them a baptismal sermon. Some Jews abjured their faith; he forbade the others to remain in the city, and expelled them from his diocese (558) ("Vita Ferreoli," l.c.). Saint Germain (568) converted a Jew at Bourges named Sigerich (Venantius Fortunatus, "Vita S. Germ." cap. 62). Avitus, Bishop of Clermont, strove long but vainly to make converts. At length in 576 a Jew sought to be baptized. One of his former coreligionists poured fetid oil over his head. The following Sunday the mob that accompanied the bishop razed the synagogue to the ground. Afterward the bishop told the Jews that unless they were willing to embrace Christianity they must withdraw, since he as bishop could have but one flock. It is said that five hundred Jews then accepted baptism, and the rest withdrew to Marseilles (Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc." v. 11; Venantius Fortunatus, "Carm." v. 5, a poem written at the command of Gregory). The example of Avitus was imitated by Virgilius, Bishop of Arles, and by Theodore, Bishop of Marseilles, and it became necessary for Pope Gregory the Great, on an appeal from the Jews who were engaged in commerce at Marseilles, to enjoin more moderation and the employment of only suasion for the conversion of the incredulous ("Epist. Greg." i. 47; ed. Migne, lxxvii. 509). Sulpicius, Bishop of Bourges (before 644), engaged with equal ardor in the work of conversion ("Vita S. Sulpicii," i. 14).
The Jews were not unconcerned in the troubles which devastated the country during the struggles with the "barbarians." With their fellow citizens they defended the city of Arles, which was besieged in 508 by the Franks and the Burgundians. When Cæsarius, the bishop, gave evidence of Burgundian leanings and one of his kinsmen passed over to the hostile forces, the Jews and the Goths taxed the bishop with treason. According to the historian, he found a Jew to open negotiations with the enemy and to propose the surrender of the city ("Vita S. Cæsarii Episc. Arelat." i., by S. Cyprius, Bishop of Toulouse; ed. Migne, "Patrol. Lat." lxvii.). This story has been rightly mistrusted (see Israel Levi in "R. E. J." xxx. 295 et seq.).Under Dagobert.
In 629 King Dagobert proposed to drive from his domains all Jews who would not accept Christianity. He was instigated to this step by Heraclius, Emperor of the East, to whom astrology had predicted the destruction of his empire by a circumcised people (Fredeg. "Chron." 65, ed. Monod, p. 147; comp. "Gesta Dagoberti," c. 24; Bouquet, ii. 586). The story, fabulous in itself, was not invented until after the Arab conquest in 632. It is known from other sources that the clergy were never so powerful under any Merovingian king as under Dagobert. From his reign to that of Pepin the Short no further mention of the Jews is found. But in the south of France, which was then known as "Septimania" and was a dependency of the Visigothic kings of Spain, the Jews continued to dwell and to prosper. From this epoch (689) dates the earliest known Jewish inscription relating to France, that of Narbonne ("R. E. J." xix. 75). The Jews of Narbonne, chiefly merchants, were popular among the people, who often rebelled against the Visigothic kings. It is noteworthy that Julian of Toledo ("Hist. Rebel. Adversus Wambam Insultatio in Tyrann. Galliæ," i. 25; ed. Migne, xcvi. 797) accuses Gaul of being Judaized. Wamba (672-680) decreed that all the Jews of his realm should either embrace Christianity or quit his dominions. This edict, which "threatened the interests of the country," provoked a general uprising. The Count of Nimes, Hilderic; the abbot Ramire; and Guimaldus, Bishop of Maguelon, took the Jews under their protection, and even compelled their neighbors to follow their example. But the insurrection was crushed, and the edict of expulsion was put into force in 673 (ib. 28). The exile of the Jews was not of long duration, since in 681 the twelfth Council of Toledo took cognizance of them, and at the seventeenth, in 694, Egica demanded the punishment of relapsed Jews, but excepted from this measure those who inhabited the provinces of Gaul, in order that they might assist these regions in recovering from the losses they had sustained, and, in general, that the Jews who dwelt in the country might help the duke who was its governor and might contribute to the reestablishment of the province by their talent and by their care and industry. But this was always with the understanding that they be converted to the Catholic faith (Dom Vaissette, "Hist. Générale de Languedoc," ed. Privas, i. 750-751).Carlovingian Period: "King of the Jews" at Narbonne.
From a letter of Pope Stephen III. (768-772) to Bishop Aribert of Narbonne it is seen that in his time the Jews still dwelt in Provence, and even in the territory of Narbonne, enjoying hereditary allodial tenure, and being exempt from high taxation in the towns and outskirts by concession of "the kings of France." They owned fields and vineyards and employed Christians ("StephaniPapæ Epist." 2; ed. Migne, cxxix. 857). This concession is probably connected with a curious episode in the struggle with the Arabs. The "Roman de Philomène" (Dom Vaissette, ed. Du Mège, addit. to iii. 30) recounts how Charlemagne, after a fabulous siege of Narbonne, rewarded the Jews for the part they had taken in the surrender of the city; he yielded to them, for their own use, a part of the city, and granted them the right to live under a "Jewish king," as the Saracens lived under a Saracen king. Meïr, son of Simon of Narbonne (1240), in his "Milḥemet Miẓwah" refers to the same story. It is a well-known fact, he adds, that at the siege of Narbonne King Charles, having had his horse killed under him, would himself have been killed but for a Jew who dismounted and gave the king his horse at the cost of his own life, for he was killed by the Saracens. A tradition that Charles granted to them a third part of the town and of its suburbs (Neubauer, in "R. E. J." x. 98-99) is partly confirmed by a document which once existed in the abbey of Grasse, and which showed that under the emperor Charlemagne a "king of the Jews" owned a section of the city of Narbonne, a possession which Charlemagne confirmed in 791 (Note of Du Mège, "Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaires," 1829, viii. 340). In the Royal Letters of 1364 (Doat Collection, 53 et seq. 339-353) it is also stated that there were two kings at Narbonne, a Jew and a Saracen, and that one-third of the city was given to the Jews. A tradition preserved by Abraham ibn Daud, and agreeing in part with the statement of Benjamin of Tudela, his contemporary, attributes these favors to R. Makir, whom Charlemagne summoned from Babylon, and who called himself a descendant of David (Neubauer, "Med. Jew. Chronicles," i. 82). The Jewish quarter of Narbonne was called "New City" ("Hist. Littér. de la France," xxvii. 561), and the "Great Jewry" (Tournai, "Catal. du Musée de Narbonne"). The Makir family bore, in fact, the name "Nasi" (prince), and lived in a building known as the "Cortada Regis Judæorum" (Saige, "Hist. des Juifs du Languedoc," p. 44). The granting of such privileges would certainly seem to be connected with some particular event, but more probably under Charles Martel or Pepin the Short than under Charlemagne. A similar story of the surrender of Toulouse to the Saracens by the Jews is rejected as a fable by Catel ("Mémoires de l'Histoire du Languedoc," p. 517), and also by Dom Vaissette (iii. 252).Under Charlemagne.
Whatever be the amount of truth in these stories, it is certain that the Jews were again numerous in France under Charlemagne, their position being regulated by law. A formula for the Jewish oath was fixed ("Capit. de Judæis," cap. 4; Boretius, i. 258). They were allowed to enter into lawsuits with Christians ("Capit. Miss. Aquisgran. Alt." cap. 13; Boretius, i. 152), and in their relations with the latter were restrained only from making them work on Sunday (ib.). They must not, however, take in pawn goods belonging to the Church ("Capit. de Judæis," cap. 1-3; Boretius, i. 258: though it is doubtful whether this paragraph dates from Charlemagne). They must not trade in currency, wine, or corn (ib.; also a doubtful paragraph according to Boretius). Of more importance is the fact that they were tried by the emperor himself, to whom they belonged (ib.). They engaged in export trade, an instance of this being found in the Jew whom Charlemagne employed to go to Palestine and bring back precious merchandise ("Mon. Sangal." i. 16; "Monum. Germ., Scriptores," ii. 737). Furthermore, when the Normons disembarked on the coast of Narbonnese Gaul they were taken for Jewish merchants (ib. ii. 14; ii. 757). They boast, says one authority, of buying whatever they please from bishops and abbots ("Capit. Miss. Nuimag. dat." cap. 4; Boretius, i. 131). Isaac the Jew, who was sent by Charlemagne in 797 with two ambassadors to Harun al-Rashid, was probably one of these merchants ("Einh. Annal." ad ann. 801; "Monum. Germ., Scriptores," 1, 190). It is a curious fact that among the numerous provincial councils which met during Charlemagne's reign not one concerned itself with the Jews, although these had increased in number. In the same spirit as in the above-mentioned legends he is represented as asking the Bagdad calif for a rabbi to instruct the Jews whom he had allowed to settle at Narbonne ("Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah," ed. Neubauer, in "Med. Jew. Chron." i. 82). It is also stated that he wished to transplant the family of Kalonymus from Lucca to Mayence ("'Emeḳ ha-Bakah," p. 13). From this time forward mention is made of rabbis. A certificate of the son of Charlemagne is delivered to a rabbi, Domatus, Donnatus, or Dematus (see below). Hrabanus Maurus, Bishop of Fulda, states that in compilinghis works he consulted with Jews who knew the Bible (Migne, cix. 10). Bishop Agobard relates that in his diocese the Jews have preachers who go to hear the Christians, and he tells of the opinions which they held and which they doubtless placed on record in their writings (see below).Under Louis le Débonnaire.
Louis le Débonnaire (814-833), faithful to the principles of his father, granted strict protection to the Jews, to whom he gave special attention in their position as merchants. The language which he uses in regard to them is characteristic; it is carefully weighed and free from all fanaticism. Louis takes under his protection (before 825) Rabbi Domatus and Samuel, his little son by Septimania; he gives orders against their being molested in the possession of their property, permits them to change or to sell it, to live according to their law, to hire Christians for their work, and to buy and sell foreign slaves within the empire. He prohibits Christians from diverting such slaves from their duties by offering baptism to them. These Jews being under the protection of the king, any who should plan or perpetrate their death were to be punished. It was equally forbidden to submit them to the ordeal by water or fire. The diploma granting these privileges was to be shown not only to civil officials, but also to the bishops, abbots, etc. ("Formul. Imp." 30; Rozière, "Recueil," No. 27; Bouquet, vi. 649). Louis accorded his protection to others also, and ("Formul. Imp." 31; Rozière, l.c. No. 28) not alone to individuals, but likewise to the Jews of the whole country. This is seen in an incident which occurred to the Jews of Lyons.Agobard's Account.
Between 822 and 825 Agobard, bishop of the diocese of that city, had come to the court of Louis to protest against the law concerning the baptism of the pagan slaves of Jews. The substance of his complaint was that the privileges of the Jews were rigidly upheld. The Jews had a master ("magister Judæorum"), that is to say, a preserver of their privileges, appointed by the emperor, and charged with seeing that they were carried out. This master of the Jews threatened Agobard with the arrival of "missi dominici" who would punish him for his audacity. In fact, these missi had come to Lyons, and they showed themselves terrible toward the Christians, but gentle toward the Jews, who had charters declaring that they were in the right. It was said that the Jews, far from being objects of hatred to the emperor, were better loved and considered than the Christians (see Agobard).
Agobard, with two other bishops, also wrote to the emperor a memoir relating all that the Church of Gaul and its heads, as well as the bishops, had done to keep the two religions distinct. In the letter to which he here makes allusion he refers to the "superstitious ideas and absurd beliefs of the Jews," citing traits which recall the "Shi'ur Ḳomah," "Sefer Yeẓirah," the Talmud, and divers Midrashim of late date (it may be remembered that Hai Gaon, in "Ṭa'am Zeḳenim," reports that the French Jews boast of possessing mystical works from Naṭronai). In their books these Jews, after their fashion, recount the history of Jesus and Peter (he seems to refer to a "Toledot Yeshu"); they pretend that the Christians adore idols, and that the powers obtained by the intercession of the saints are in reality secured through the devil. In a letter to Nibridius, Bishop of Narbonne, Agobard begs him to work for the separation of Jews and Christians as he himself is doing, enjoining upon the Christians to flee from the society of the Jews at Lyons and in some of the neighboring towns. Promiscuity is dangerous, for as a matter of fact the Christians celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews, desecrate Sunday, and transgress the regular fasts. Because the Jews boast of being of the race of the Patriarchs, the nation of the righteous, the children of the Prophets, the ignorant think that they are the only people of God and that the Jewish religion is better than their own ("Agobardi Opera," ed. Migne, civ.; comp. Bernhard Simon, "Jahrbücher des Fränkischen Reiches Unter Ludwig dem Frommen," i. 393 et seq., Leipsic, 1874). The highly colored picture presented by the letter of Agobard shows not only the policy followed by the Church—the separation of Jews and Christians, and the reproaches then hurled at the Jews—but also the prosperity which the Jews enjoyed as merchants (not usurers), and the commencement of their literary activity.Amulo's "Against the Jews."
Agobard had a worthy successor in the person of his disciple Amulo (Amolon), who in 846 published a letter ("Contra Judæos," ed. Migne, cxvi.) which took up and carried to completion Agobard's arguments; his memoir affords new information on the situation of the Jews of his diocese. The people had not yet perceived the danger of intermingling with the Jews, and the leaders were afflicted with the same blindness. Wine, even for religious purposes, was always purchased from the Jews; Christian freemen continued to take service with them, both in the city and elsewhere; the ignorant still claimed that the Jews preached to them better than did the priests. He states that certain converted Jews have informed him that in some places Jewish farmers of revenue abuse their power by compelling those of little spirit, the weak-minded, to deny Jesus. It is in this way that the deacon Bodon has been deceived into becoming a Jew. On several occasions Amulo has ordered his flock to keep aloof from the Jews, and has ordered the bishops to come into closer relationship with their charges in order that danger may be averted. Amulo likewise denounces the aberrations and superstitions of the Jews, who devote themselves entirely to their traditions, which they make the subject of discourses and sermons every Saturday in the synagogues. He mentions also the invidious expressions of which they make use to designate the Apostles and the Gospel, and their arguments in defense of their Messianic ideas (which accord with those of the "Sefer Zerubbabel" and the "Ma'aseh of R. Joshua b. Levi"). This memoir is contemporary with two synods which met at Meaux (June 17, 845) and at Paris (Feb. 14, 846). At these councils, in which Amulo took part, the king was urged in the terms of the "Contra Judæos" to observe toward the Jews the ancient laws and edicts ("Concil. Meld." can. 73; Labbe, xiv. 836). The king, however, paid little attention to the exhortationsof the bishops (Prudentius of Troyes, "Annales," ed. Migne, cxv. 1399), and did not ratify the canon on the Jews ("Capitularium Sparnaci"). The attempt had failed once again. According to the legend related in the Annals of Hincmar (ad ann. 877; "Monum. Germ., Scriptores" i. 504, 589), Charles the Bald paid for this imprudence, being poisoned in Mantua by his Jewish doctor Sedecias (Annalista Saxo, ib. 584). The king also employed Jews on foreign missions (Diego, "Historia de los Condes de Barcelona," p. 26). The Jews, who continued to devote themselves to commerce, differed in their privileges from the Christians only in the amount of duty levied on them, paying one-tenth of the value of the goods, while Christians paid one-eleventh (Bouquet, vii. 104: if this capitulary is authentic). Ibn Kordadhbeh, who speaks of the southern French Jews about 850, depicts them going as far as the Indies and China ("Journal Asiatique," sixth series, v. 512). See Commerce.
From the middle of the ninth to the twelfth century is certainly an important epoch; it was then that French society became transformed by the development of the feudal system and the organization of the gilds; the arbitrary rapacity of the one oppressing the weak—agricultural serf and Jewish merchant alike—and the jealous exclusiveness of the other prohibiting the exercise of trades by non-Catholics, while both invested all things with the religious fanaticism which later expressed itself in the Crusades. At the same time it is the epoch in which the rabbinical schools, already mentioned in Amulo's account, appeared in full light, when Hebrew literature in France produced its first works, and when famous rabbis made French Judaism illustrious and impressed upon it the character which it was to retain for several centuries. Unfortunately, however, but few details concerning this transition period are known; they are as follows:
At Sens, about 876, the archbishop Ansegise, prelate of Gaul, expelled the Jews and the friars from his city—for a certain reason, according to an eleventh-century historian (Odorani, "Chron."ad ann. 883; Bouquet, viii. 237). As far as concerned the Jews this is, perhaps, the first sign of the triumph of feudalism. In 899 Charles the Simple confiscated, for the profit of the church at Narbonne, all the property held by the Jews and subject to the payment of tithes (Vaissette. iii. 63). According to Saige ("Hist. des Juifs du Languedoc," p. 9), this signifies that the Jews might not possess land upon which Church tithes were levied, but it did not abrogate their right to hold free land. At any rate, in the eleventh century they were in peaceful possession of their landed property around Narbonne.The First Capets—987-1137: Persecution of Jews in Limoges and Rouen.
According to Richer, a historian who, as stated by Monod, inspires mistrust, Hugh Capet, "whose whole body was covered with sores," was killed by the Jews in 996 ("Richeri Historia," lib. iv., toward the end, p. 308, ed. Guadet). According to Guadet, Richer merely means by this statement that the Jewish physicians were the cause of his death. A Hebrew document (Berliner's "Magazin," iv.; "Oẓar Ṭob," p. 49) states that a Jew of Blois, who had been converted to Christianity, wished to destroy the Limoges community in 996, and accused the Jews of employing on three holidays of the year a wax image of the lord of the land, which they pierced in order to bring about his death, just as they did in the case of the host. But since the fable of the pierced host came into existence several centuries later, the story is open to doubt. Following the accusation of this convert, a priest appears to have counseled his lord no longer to tolerate the Jews in the city. In 1010 Alduin, Bishop of Limoges, offered the Jews of his diocese the choice between baptism and exile. For a month theologians held disputations with them, but without much success, for only three or four of the Jews abjured their faith; of the rest some fled into other cities, while others killed themselves ("Chronicles of Adhémar of Chabannes," ed. Bouquet, x. 152; "Chron. of William Godellus," ib. 262, according to whom the event occurred in 1007 or 1008). A Hebrew text also states that Duke Robert of Normandy 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. A rich and esteemed man in Rouen, Jacob b. Jekuthiel, went to Rome to implore the protection of the pope in favor of his coreligionists, and the pontiff sent a high dignitary to put a stop to the persecution (Berliner's "Magazin," iii.; "Oẓar Ṭob," pp. 46-48). Robert the Pious is well known for his religious prejudice and for the hatred which he bore toward heretics; it was he who first burned sectarians. There is probably some connection between this persecution and a rumor which appears to have been current in the year 1010. If Adhémar of Chabannes, who wrote in 1030, is to be believed, in 1010 the Western Jews addressed a letter to their Eastern coreligionists warning them of a military movement against the Saracens. In the preceding year the Church of the Holy Sepulcher had been converted into a mosque by the Mohammedans, a sacrilege which had aroused great feeling in Europe, and Pope Sergius IV. had sounded the alarm ("Monum. Germ., Scriptores," iv. 137). The exasperation of the Christians, it seems, brought into existence and spread the belief in a secret understanding between the Mohammedans and the Jews. Twenty years later Raoul Glaber (Bouquet, x. 34) knew more concerning this story. According to him, Jews of Orleans had sent to the East through a beggar a letter which provoked the order for the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Glaberadds that on the discovery of the crime the expulsion of the Jews was everywhere decreed. Some were driven out of the cities, others were put to death, while some killed themselves; only a few remained in all the "Roman world." Five years later a small number of those who had fled returned. Count Riant says that this whole story of the relations between the Jews and the Mohammedans is only one of those popular legends with which the chronicles of the time abound ("Inventaire Critique des Lettres Historiques des Croisades," p. 38, Paris, 1880). Another violent commotion arose about the year 1065. At this date Pope Alexander II. wrote to the Viscount of Narbonne,Béranger, and to Guifred, bishop of the city, praising them for having prevented the massacre of the Jews in their district, and reminding them that God does not approve of the shedding of blood ("Concil." ix. 1138 and 1154; Vaissette, 355). A crusade had been formed against the Moors of Spain, and the Crusaders had killed without mercy all the Jews whom they met on their route.Franko-Jewish Literature.
During this period, which continues till the first Crusade, Jewish culture was awakening, and still showed a certain unity in the south of France and the north. Its domain did not embrace all human knowledge; it included in the first place poetry, which was at times purely liturgical—the echo of Israel's sufferings and the expression of its invincible hope—but which more often was a simple scholastic exercise without aspiration, destined rather to amuse and instruct than to move—a sort of dried sermon. Following this comes Biblical exegesis, the simple interpretation of the text, with neither daring nor depth, reflecting a complete faith in traditional interpretation, and based by preference upon the Midrashim, despite their fantastic character. Finally, and above all, their attention was occupied with the Talmud and its commentaries. The text of this work, together with that of the writings of the Geonim, particularly their responsa, was first revised and copied; then these writings were treated as a "corpus juris," and were commented upon and studied both as a pious exercise in dialectics and from the practical point of view. There was no philosophy, no natural science, no belles-lettres, among the French Jews of this period.
Several names of scholars and poets emerge from the shadows of the tenth century: Makir, the gaon Todros, and Moses b. Abbun, chiefs of the school of Narbonne; Simon of Mans; his son Joseph and his grandson Abbun the Great; Judah b. Meïr ha-Kohen (in French "Leontin"), teacher of Gershon; Moses of Arles. In the eleventh century there were many famous authors who played a rôle of the first importance in the development of Jewish civilization and who left their imprint upon Judaism. The most illustrious of them was Gershon, called the "Light of the Exile," who was originally from Metz, but exercised his activity at Mayence and established the study of the Talmud upon the banks of the Rhine. He was a poet, and his productions breathe an intense emotion, due to the sorrows of the times. As grammarian, he turned his attention to the Masorah; as Talmudist, he was the author of the first Talmudic commentary produced in Europe, as well as of practical treatises of rabbinical casuistry and of responsa. As chief of the school, inspired by circumstances he passed measures ("taḳḳanot") of wide-reaching importance, which have retained the force of law throughout Occidental Judaism. He forbade polygamy and one-sided divorce. He had pupils from France, among others Judah b. Moses of Toulouse, Elias the Elder of Mans, and Simon the Elder of Mans, uncle of Rashi. He corresponded with the French rabbis Simson Cohen, Elias b. Elias, Daniel b. Jacob, Leon, Juston (originally in all probability from Burgundy), Samuel b. Judah, and Joseph b. Perigoros. Close to Gershon must be placed Joseph b. Samuel Ṭob-'Elem (Bonfils), rabbi of Limousin and Anjou, and a remarkable Talmudist. He left to posterity many fine editions of the rabbinical writings of his predecessors. He was also an excellent poet, and the author of interesting decisions and responsa. Liturgical poets, such as Joseph b. Solomon of Carcassonne, Benjamin b. Samuel of Coutances, and Elias the Elder b. Menahem of Mans, were numerous.
Jewish France was so rich in men of learning that she gave some of them to Germany, among them Isaac ha-Levi of Vitry, who became head of the school at Worms, and Isaac b. Judah, who became head of the school of Mayence. Both of these became teachers of Rashi.Rashi.
The great figure which dominates the second half of the eleventh century, as well as the whole rabbinical history of France, is Rashi (Solomon b. Isaac) of Troyes (1040-1106). In him is personified the genius of northern French Judaism: its devoted attachment to tradition; its naive, untroubled faith; its piety, ardent but free from mysticism. His works are distinguished by their clearness, directness, and hatred of subtlety, and are written in a simple, concise, unaffected style, suited to his subject. His commentary on the Talmud, which was the product of colossal labor, and which eclipsed the similar works of all his predecessors, by its clearness and soundness made easy the study of that vast compilation, and soon become its indispensable complement. His commentary on the Bible (particularly on the Pentateuch), a sort of repertory of the Midrash, served for edification, but also advanced the taste for simple and natural exegesis. The school which he founded at Troyes, his birthplace, after having followed the teachings of those of Worms and Mayence, immediately became famous. Around his chair were gathered Simḥah b. Samuel, R. Samuel b. Meïr (Rashbam), and Shemaia, his grandsons; likewise Shemaria, Judah b. Nathan, and Isaac Levi b. Asher, all of whom continued his work. In his Biblical commentaries he availed himself of the works of his contemporaries. Among them must be cited Moses ha-Darshan, chief of the school of Narbonne, who was perhaps the founder of exegetical studies in France; Menahem b. Ḥelbo; and, above all, Joseph Caro. Thus the eleventh century was a period of fruitful activity in literature. Thenceforth French Judaism became one of the poles of universal Judaism.The Crusades:
The Jews of France do not seem to have suffered much during the Crusades, except, perhaps, during the first (1096), when the Crusaders are stated to have shut up the Jews of Rouen in a church and to have exterminated them without distinction of age or sex, sparing only those who accepted baptism (Guibert de Nogent, ed. Bouquet, xii. 240; "Chron. Rothomag."; Labbe, "Novæ Bibliothecæ, manuscript Lib." i. 367). According to a Hebrew document, the Jews throughout France were at that time in great fear, and wrote to their brothers in the Rhine countries making known to them their terror and asking them to fast and pray (anonymous text of Mayence, in A. Neubauer and Stern, "Hebräische Berichte über die Judenverfolgungenwährend der Kreuzzüge," p. 47). Happily their fears proved groundless.R. Tam in the Second Crusade.
At the time of the second Crusade, Jacob Tam, the grandson of Rashi, had cause to lament the actions of the Crusaders, who burst into his house, seized his possessions, destroyed a book of the Law, and carried him off into the open field with the intention of putting him to death. But perceiving one of the nobles, he called him to his aid and was rescued. Ephraim of Bonn is the only writer who tells of this incident; R. Tam himself makes no reference to it ("Judenverfolgungen," p. 64), and even Ephraim adds that in the other communities of France no one was put to death or compelled to abjure his faith. Nevertheless, the consequences of the Crusades were terrible for the Jews, for this great religious movement produced an excitement of the popular imagination which had dire results for them. It was about this time that accusations of ritual murder were bruited; mere manifestations of a mental malady on the part of majorities intolerant of the existence of a minority who kept aloof from them. From the economic and social point of view this epoch was destined to be for the Jews a turning-point. Until that time the Jews had been chiefly merchants; henceforth they become known above all as usurers. St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, who preached the second Crusade, and who intervened with great courage to prevent the massacre of the German Jews, asked King Louis VII. to prohibit the Jews from accepting usurious rates of interest from those who set out for the Holy Land. Moreover, in speaking of their rapacity, and observing that in places where there were no Jews the Christian usurers were worse in their exactions, he says that on this account the latter might justly be accused of Judaizing ("Epistola," 363; ed. Migne, clxxxii. 564). Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, wrote in 1146 to the king that even if he did not counsel the massacre of the Jews, they should at least be punished by being despoiled of their ill-gotten gains and thefts, and that the army of the Crusaders should not spare Jewish treasures ("Epistola," 36; ed. Migne, clxxxix. 366). For having resisted these appeals Louis VII. was accused by a contemporary historian of having been moved by cupidity ("Fragmentum Historicum Vitam Lud. Vll. Summatim Complectens," in Bouquet, xii. 286). Pope Alexander III. in a letter to the Archbishop of Bourges (1179) addressed to him the same reproach (Bouquet, xv. 968). According to Ephraim of Bonn, the provisions of the bull of Pope Eugenius IV. exonerating the Crusaders from their debts to the Jews were carried out in France ("Judenverfolgungen," p. 64).Blood Accusation.
The accusation of ritual murder in France was closely connected with the Crusades. According to a Jewish account of the second Crusade ("Judenverfolgungen," p. 62), the Crusaders, in order to justify their sanguinary exploits, pretended at times that they were punishing the Jews for the murder of Christians. It was said that the Jews committed this crime not because they had need of Christian blood for ritual purposes, but in order to repeat the crucifixion of Jesus. At Pontoise it was said some time before 1171 that they had crucified an adult Christian of the name of Richard. The dates given vary: it was in 1163 according to Lambert Waterlos, who died in 1170 (Bouquet, xiii. 520); in 1179 according to Rigord; in 1156 according to Geoffroy of the abbey of St. Martial of Limoges, who died in 1184 (Bouquet, xii. 438; see also "Judenverfolgungen," p. 34). The body was carried to Paris and worked numerous miracles in the Church of the Holy Innocents, where it was interred. Similar accusations were made against the Jews at Epernay and at Janville (department of Eure et Loire) about the same time—that is to say, about the year 1170—but no details are known ("Judenverfolgungen," pp. 34-35). The outburst at Blois is the most famous, and cost the lives of 31 persons. The affair was of a most lamentable nature. A man was watering a horse in the Loire. Frightened at the sight of a Jew who was near, the animal reared. This was sufficient to cause the man to return at once and accuse the Jew of having thrown into the stream the body of a Christian child which had been crucified by the Jew's coreligionists. He himself had been afraid of meeting the same death, and the horse had instinctively recoiled. Thibaut de Champagne, Count of Blois, immediately incarcerated all the Jews in the city. A priest suggested that the man should be put to the test by water, and as the test resulted in his favor, the proof of the crime of the Jews was regarded as conclusive. Having rejected baptism, 31 Jews were burned on Wednesday, May 26, 1171. Jacob Tam, who was informed of this sad occurrence, decided that this day should be one of fasting, and the communities of France, Anjou, and the provinces on the Rhine duly observed it as such (statement of Baruch ben Meïr of Orleans; letters of the notables of Orleans; letter of a Jew of Tours to R. Yom-Ṭob; "Martyrology of Ephraim of Bonn"; letter of the notables of Paris in "Judenverfolgungen," pp. 31 et seq.; Robert du Mont, in Bouquet, xiii. 315). Robert du Mont also says that Jews were burned in Paris likewise in 1177 for the murder of St. William. The belief in this legend was destined to be most baneful to the Jews of the entire kingdom of France. Philip Augustus, who, in 1180, at the age of fifteen succeeded Louis VII., his father, had, according to his historian Rigord, often heard the young nobles who were his fellow students in the palace tell how the Jews of Paris went year by year into subterranean retreats on Passover or during the Holy Week, and sacrificed a Christian in order to outrage the Christian religion. Often during his brother's reign (they said) the guilty had been seized and thrown into the flames. Immediately after his coronation, March 14, 1181, he ordered the Jews arrested on a Saturday, in all their synagogues, and despoiled of their money and their vestments (an English chronicler, Raoul of Dicet [ii. 14], says that he released them for a ransom of 15,000 silver marks). The Jews, adds Rigord, were then very numerous, and many rabbis (didascali) had come to sojourn in Paris; they had become enriched to the extent of owning nearly half of the city; they were engaged in usury; their patrons were often despoiled of their possessions, while others were kept on parole in the houses ofcertain of the Jews. After having consulted a hermit who lived in the Vincennes forest, the king released the Christians of his domain from all their debts toward the Jews, with the exception of one-fifth which he transferred to himself.Expulsion from France, 1182.
In the following April, 1182, he published an edict of expulsion, but according the Jews a delay of three months for the sale of their personal property. Immovable property, however, such as houses, fields, vines, barns, and wine-presses, he confiscated. The Jews attempted to win over the nobles to their side, but in vain. In July they were compelled to leave the royal domains of France; their synagogues were converted into churches (Rigord, "Gesta Philippi Augusti," i., vi. 12-17; ed. Delaborde, pp. 14 et seq.; see also Guillaume le Breton, "Philippidos," i. 389 et seq.; ed. Delaborde, p. 23).
As may be seen, these successive measures were simply expedients to fill the royal coffers. The goods confiscated by the king were at once converted into cash (Leopold Delisle, "Catalogue des Actes du Regne de Philippe Auguste," 20, 21, 22, 27, 51, 58). It is well to add that at that time the royal domains were reduced to a very narrow strip of territory, extending around Paris and Orleans.
During the century which terminated so disastrously for the Jews their condition was not altogether bad, especially if compared with that of their brethren in Germany. Thus may be explained the remarkable intellectual activity which existed among them, the attraction which it exercised over the Jews of other countries, and the numerous works produced in those days. The impulse given by Rashi to study did not cease with his death; his successors—the members of his family first among them—brilliantly continued his work. Research moved within the same limits as in the preceding century, and dealt mainly with the Talmud, rabbinical jurisprudence, and Biblical exegesis. Rabbenu Tam, to whom reference will again be made, investigated at least one section of Hebrew grammar; he undertook the defense of Menahem b. Saruḳ against Dunash b. Labraṭ; as innovator in another direction he composed a poem on the accents and imitated the versification of the Spanish Jews, which impelled Abraham ibn Ezra to ask: "Who is this that has led the French into the temple of poetry?" But in this he had no successors, and did not create a school.The "Tosafot."
Biblical exegesis, which continued to be distinguished by its simplicity and naturalness, now commenced to place too much importance on interpretations based on the numerical values of letters and on analogous methods (gemaṭria, noṭariḳon). Liturgical poetry was constantly cultivated by a large number of rabbis. Talmudic studies underwent a marked transformation. Exposition of the Talmud having almost reached a limit (for every one aimed to complete Rashi's work), scholars no longer confined themselves merely to understanding the Talmud, but, just as had been done formerly with the Mishnah, they selected from the Talmud their themes for academic and juristic discussions. By the help of parallel passages they shed new light on the text of the Talmud; by comparing analogous passages they sought to establish rules of jurisprudence; and, where the text contained eontradictions, whether real or merely apparent, external or internal, they pointed them out and sought to explain them away. On the other hand, from the Talmud they deduced laws applying to the conditions of contemporaneous life. Their glosses or postils, known under the name of "tosafot" (additions), were originally simple appendixes to the commentary of Rashi, discussing, correcting, or completing them. They represent the result of the discussions of the schools and of the teaching of the masters, and are notes made by the professor or, as was more often the case, collected by the pupils to carry with them when they visited other schools. Study, considered always as a means of salvation, became more and more simple dialectics, aptly compared with that of the scholastics of the time. But even in this extravagant display of ingenuity, of subtlety, and of erudition, the French rabbis, as their contemporaries of Germany, preserved a moderation ignored by their disciples, the Poles of the sixteenth and following centuries. Subtlety did not exclude clearness; logic never lost its rights; order ruled in the editing of their notes. The production of tosafot became the dominant and absorbing occupation of this period, and impressed its distinctive character upon the studies of the time.Centers of Rabbinic Learning.
The work was participated in by a whole legion of scholars, spread over the north of France, Normandy as well as the Isle of France, Champagne as well as Burgundy and Lorraine. Champagne, however, was the most active center. In these different provinces schools were founded—at Ramerupt after Troyes, at Dampierre, at Auxerre, at Sens, at Falaise, at Paris, etc. To these centers of instruction, just as to the French universities, hastened pupils from distant countries, from Slavic lands, from Bohemia, and from Germany. Like the traveling students of that period, the pupils of the rabbis traversed the land, mocking at distance, insensible to privation, going from one master to another in their thirst for instruction. The earliest masters who gave prestige to this form of instruction were members of the family of Rashi: Judah b. Nathan, his son-in-law and the continuer of his commentary on the Talmud; Meïr, another son-in-law, who became director of the Troyes Academy after Rashi's death; Jacob Tam (called commonly "Rabbenu Tam," the son of Meïr)—the true founder of the school of tosafists, a man of strong will and energetic character, and known to his contemporaries as the supreme authority of French Judaism; his brother Samuel (Rashbam), an excellent exegete, somewhat daring in parts of his Biblical commentary; Samuel de Vitry, a nephew of R. Tam. To the same group belong Samuel de Vitry, a disciple of Rashi, and author of the Maḥzor Vitry; his great-grandson, Isaac b. Samuel the Elder, the famous "RI," whose name occurs frequently in the tosafot, and who was chief of the school at Dampierre (to be distinguished from Isaac b. Abraham, known as "RI ha-Baḥur" (the Younger), who succeeded him); Elhanan, son of Isaac b. Samuel, martyred in 1184. To these names of famous tosafists must also be added the following: Jacob of Orleans(died in London in 1189), who was also an exegete; Samuel b. Ḥayyim of Verdun, disciple of R. Tam; Hoshaiah ha-Levi of Troyes; Menahem b. Perez of Joigny, also an exegete; Yom-Ṭob of Joigny (died at York in 1190), a liturgical poet and Biblical commentator; Samuel b. Aaron and Simon b. Samuel of Joinville; Eliezer b. Samuel of Metz, author of the "Sefer Yere'im"; Moses b. Abraham of Pontoise; Simon b. Joseph of Falaise; Yom-Ṭob; Judah b. Yom-Ṭob; Ḥayyim b. Hananel Cohen; the celebrated Judah b. Isaac, alias Sir Léeon of Paris; Simson de Couçy, one of the most learned of the tosafists; Judah of Corbeil; Joseph and Isaac b. Baruch of Clisson; Eliezer b. Solomon; and the well-known Simson (b. Abraham) of Sens, commentator of the Mishnah and the Sifra. Side by side with these tosafists may be cited a number of scholars renowned for their vast knowledge, such as Joseph Kara, mentioned above in connection with the history of the previous century; Shemaiah, commentator on the Talmud; Joseph b. Isaac of Orleans, better known under the name of "Joseph Bechor Schor," an ingenious exegete; Solomon b. Isaac and Eleazar of Orleans; Samuel b. Jacob of Auxerre; Aaron and Bender d'Epernay; Eliezer of Beaugency, an exegete of authority; Jehiel b. David and Jekuthiel b. Judah of Troyes; Jacob and Isaac de Bray, who died in 1191; David of Brienne; Samuel de Joinville; Joseph b. Solomon de Dampierre; Joseph b. Joseph de Pont Audemer; Samuel b. Joseph of Verdun; Abraham of Toul; Moses of Saumur; Joseph b. Moses and Simson of Troyes; David of Château-Thierry; Meshullam b. Nathan of Melun; Nathan, his son; Jedidia of the same town; Solomon b. Abraham b. Jehiel; Mattithiah b. Moses; Judah b. Abraham; Samuel, Moses, and Jacob b. Samson; Elijah b. Judah of Paris; Joseph Porat of Caen; Joseph the Saint and Samson of Corbeil; Joseph b. Isaac of Chinon; Joseph of Chartres, poet and exegete; Moses of Saumur; Isaac b. Solomon and Eliezer of Sens. This list could be considerably prolonged if all the learned men of the time were mentioned whose birthplace is not exactly known, although they are certainly French.Synods.
It is sufficient to know that at a synod held at Troyes under the presidency of Samuel b. Meïr and R. Tam, rabbis came from Troyes, Auxerre, the banks of the Rhine, Paris and its environs, from Melun, Normandy and the coast, Anjou, Pontou, and Lorraine. These synods are distinctive of the history of northern France in the twelfth century; in imitation of the local or national councils, and principally at the instigation of R. Tam, the heads of the Israelite community met several times, without doubt at the time of the Champagne fairs, to deliberate upon dubious cases of jurisprudence, or to pass new laws necessitated by changed conditions. Thus, they forbade Jews to buy or to take in pledge crucifixes, church ornaments, or other objects connected with the Catholic form of worship; to summon their coreligionists to appear before non-Jewish judges; to allow themselves to be nominated by the civil authorities as provost or leader of the community without having been previously proposed for this office by the majority of the community. They also decided that the prohibition of R. Gershom against polygamy should be enforced, and that it should not be revoked at any time in the future except under urgent necessity and by a council of at least a hundred rabbis from three different regions—from France, Normandy, and Anjou. The command was renewed to excommunicate traitors who brought false charges against their brethren. Finally a question connected with the matrimonial laws was settled (Neubauer, "R. E. J." xvii. 66-73; Gross, "Gallia Judaica," pp. 231 et seq.).In the South.
In the south of France the intellectual life of the Jews was equally intense, and for similar reasons. Never had their situation been more happy; rulers and people agreed in treating them with kindness. At Toulouse and at Béziers they had to suffer, it is true, odious restrictions At Béziers, on Palm Sunday, the bishop regularly exhorted the people to take vengeance on the Jews, "who had crucified Jesus." He even went further and gave them permission to attack the deicides and to raze their houses. This the inhabitants always did with such ardor that it resulted in bloodshed. The attack commenced on the first hour of the Saturday before Palm Sunday, and lasted until the last hour of the Saturday after Passover. At Toulouse, as a penalty for the alleged crime of having, in the time of Charlemagne, delivered up the town to the Saracens—a mere legend, since the Moors never entered the town—thrice a year a Jew was compelled to present himself before the church to have his ears boxed. But these two customs were justly abolished in the twelfth century; the latter, at the commencement of the century, was replaced by a fixed payment to the canons of St. Saturnin (Vaissète, ii. 151); that of Béeziers in 1160 by a tax to be used in purchasing ornaments for the cathedral (ib. iii. 813). The favor which the Jews in general enjoyed at that time may be judged from the fact that they were employed by the counts and inferior lords in the position of "bailes." As such they had the administration of lands dependent directly on their lords; they also had a large share in the administration of justice. "Above all, they filled the office of farmers of revenue, and were allowed to farm out the tolls, the receipts of the towns and fiefs, and even certain of the revenues of the chapters and bishops" (Saige, "Les Juifs du Languedoc," pp. 15 et seq.). But if, as is natural, Christian documents impart this information, it does not follow that the Jews drew their revenues exclusively from such offices, for the Hebrew responsa show that they continued to practise the same trades as before. Their prosperity was due altogether to the ever-kindly attitude of the people toward them, and to the liberalism of the counts of Toulouse and the viscounts of Béziers, who had taken them under their protection. Raymond Trencavel and Roger II., viscounts of Béziers, and Raymond V. and VI., were in turn well disposed toward them, and entrusted them with the duties of bailes. The Jews of Béziers took no part in the popular conspiracy of that city, which in 1167 occasioned the assassination of Raymond Trencavel, and they accordingly did not suffer in the massacre with which that crime was avenged in 1169. At a later date, when Raymond VI. was attackedby the Crusaders, one of the direct charges brought against him was that of having, "to the shame of the faith," admitted Jews to public offices. The lords of Montpellier alone were consistently opposed to appointing Jews to the office of baile.Provençal Learning.
Among the Jews of this district science reached heights even loftier than those to which it attained in northern France. The proximity of Spain, the peaceful condition of the district, and other circumstances which will be mentioned later, made Provence (a name then given to all the south of France) a chosen land for Jewish science, and assured it a brilliant part in the transmission of the civilization of classic times. There, too, rabbinical science was cultivated with ardor and produced remarkable men. Its centers were Arles, Béziers, Lunel, Marseilles, Montpellier, Narbonne, Nimes, Posquières, and St. Gilles. When in 1160 Benjamin of Tudela on his way through Provence stopped at Narbonne, "one of the towns which are most famous for their knowledge, and whence the knowledge of the Law has spread through all the land," he found there Kalonymus, son of the nasi Todros, chief of the rabbinical school; Abraham Ab Bet Din, author of "Sefer ha-Eshkol"; R. Judah; and other learned men, all of whom had numerous pupils. He also found at Béziers another school, under the direction of Solomon Ḥalafta and Joseph b. Nathaniel; at Montpellier he met Reuben b. Todros, Nathan b. Simon, Samuel and Mordecai b. Samuel; at Posquières, the seat of a famous school, he saw Abraham b. David (RABaD), who was renowned for his knowledge, and who supported poor students at his own expense, and also Joseph b. Menahem, Benveniste, Benjamin, Abraham, and Isaac b. Moses; while at St. Gilles was a community comprising about a hundred learned men, with Isaac b. Jacob, Abraham b. Judah, Eliezer, Isaac, Moses, and Jacob b. Levi, and Abba Mari b. Isaac at the head. At Arles was a community of two hundred Israelites, including Moses, Tobias, Isaiah, Solomon, Nathan, and Abba Mari. At Lunel, says Benjamin, "is a holy brotherhood which studies the Law day and night. The celebrated Meshullam b. Jacob teaches there; his five sons, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob (Nazir), Aaron, Asher, famous for their wisdom as well as for their wealth, have withdrawn themselves from all worldly interests, pursue their studies unceasingly, and abstain from eating meat. Moses b. Judah, Samuel he-Ḥazzan, Solomon ha-Kohen, and Judah b. Saul ibn Tibbon, the Spaniard, also live there, and pupils are taught and supported gratuitously" Finally Benjamin stopped at Marseilles, where he saw the wise Simon b. Anatoli, the latter's brother Jacob, and several other rabbis. The number of famous rabbis mentioned in this chronicle as living in the same year is worthy of note. To complete the list, however, there still remain to be mentioned Meïr b. Isaac of Trinquetailles, author of the "Sefer ha-'Ezer"; the famous Zerachiah ha-Levi, originally from Spain and author of the "Sefer ha-Ma'or," who lived at Lunel; Abraham b. Nathan ha-Yarḥi of Lunel, author of the "Sefer ha-Manhig"; the whole Kalonymus family at Narbonne; Isaac b. Merwan ha-Levi; Moses b. Joseph b. Merwan ha-Levi; etc.Halakic Studies.
A new method lent variety to the studies of these Talmudists. Isaac Alfasi of Spain had composed a sort of compilation of the Talmud, omitting from it all matters not related to jurisprudence. This plan soon found favor with scholars of a methodical frame of mind, and the "Little Talmud," as the work of Alfasi was called, became the object of devoted study in Provence. Abraham Ab Bet Din was the first scholar there to follow its method and to effect a codification of the contents of the Talmud ("Sefer ha-Eshkol"). On the other hand, Zerachiah ha-Levi in his "Ma'or" criticised the "Sefer ha-Eshkol" severely. Abraham b. David thereupon energetically undertook the defense of his master, and was supported by his disciple, Meïr of Trinquetailles, in his "Sefer ha-'Ezer." Much as these ardent polemics agitated the south of France, they were to be surpassed by others of which Abraham b. David was destined to be the cause. To Alfasi's summary was due the creation of a veritable "summa" of the Talmud, the profoundest work and the most methodical that the Talmud ever inspired—the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, in which for the first time the Talmudic rules were classified and elucidated according to a scientific plan. The author, absorbed in philosophy, intended that this "summa" should enable students to dispense with a too absorbing study of the Talmud.RABaD and RaMBaM.
RABaD, a follower of tradition, was startled by such boldness, for he saw in the book, and perhaps correctly, a mortal danger to the intellectual activity of Judaism, and the cessation of those studies which, though narrow, furnished intellectual food for legions of scholars. Furthermore, Maimonides, a reverential pupil of Aristotle, and an ardent rationalist, did not hesitate to submit to the judgment of reason the theological opinions of the rabbis of the Talmud. Everything which implied the materiality of the Deity or a belief in the resurrection of the body, and all ordinances having, in his eyes, a superstitious character, were disregarded in the Mishneh Torah, and philosophic principles were placed at the foundation even of the legal code. It was a revolution; Rabad understood this, and he undertook to arrest it. He submitted the work of Maimonides to a criticism, minute, bitter, and sometimes brutal, upholding with all his might the doctrine that absolute faith must be accorded to the teachings of the Talmud. It was the battle of free inquiry against the principle of authority, the resistance of the conservative spirit to the audacity of dangerous innovation. Learned as this criticism was, and great as was the authority with which Rabad's incomparable Talmudic knowledge and highly esteemed works had invested him, his opposition was powerless against the prestige which Maimonides had already gained in Provence. There portions of the Mishneh Torah were received as the work progressed, and its completion was eagerly awaited (letter to Joseph b. Aknin). Maimonides, indeed, was consulted as an oracle in Provence; from Marseilles came requests for his opinion even in matters of astrology. Furthermore, he had written a theological treatise, the "Guide to the Perplexed," of an audacityremarkable for that time, and in which he applied to the Bible the methods of Aristotle and sought for a rational explanation of the religious ordinances.The Translators.
Far from being scandalized at this, the communities, such as that of Lunel, asked him to translate the work from the Arabic into Hebrew, in order that they might study it thoroughly; and at the end of the twelfth century the translation was undertaken by an inhabitant of Lunel. Such a phenomenon, new to France, is explained by the relationship which existed between the Jews there and those across the Pyrenees, where free inquiry was eagerly pursued. An event which rendered this Spanish influence still more potent was the persecution of the Almohades, who drove many Spanish scholars from Spain into Provence, and thereby brought about in miniature a renaissance similar in its way to that which the conquest of Constantinople afterward produced. Two families, the Ibn Tibbons and the Ḳimḥis, transplanted into Provence the Arabic-Jewish civilization of Spain, and the medium for utilizing the forces thus presented was found in the person of Meshullam b. Jacob, who desired to play the part of an intellectual Mæcenas, and who may justly claim to have been the author of the scientific movement among the southern Jews. He it was who called forth the talent of Judah b. Saul ibn Tibbon, originally from Granada, then a fugitive at Lunel. Meshullam and his son Asher insisted that Judah should translate the principal works of the Jews, which, being written in Arabic, could not be read by all. With their assistance Judah translated into Hebrew Baḥya's "Ḥobot ha-Lebabot," Solomon ibn Gabirol's "Tiḳḳun Middot ha-Nefesh," Judah ha-Levi's "Cuzari," Saadia's "Sefer ha-Emunot weha-De'ot," and even Ibn Janaḥ's Hebrew grammar. Judah ibn Tibbon became the head of a dynasty of translators who spread through the Occident all the sciences cultivated in Spain by the Arabs and the Jews. Concurrently with Judah ibn Tibbon, Joseph Ḳimḥi, also a refugee from Spain, translated tḥe "Ḥobot ha-Lebabot." But while the talent of the Ibn Tibbons was directed to translating, that of the Ḳimḥis was on the whole devoted to Biblical exegesis and grammar. Through Joseph Ḳimḥi and his sons Moses and David were made accessible to Provence all those treasures of exegetical and grammatical science of which Jewish Spain had enjoyed the benefit. The simple haggadic exegesis current in the north of France was replaced by a freer, bolder interpretation of the Bible based upon a knowledge of grammar, and made profounder and more rigorous by a comparative study of Arabic grammar. The Ibn Tibbons finished the conquest of Provence commenced by Abraham ibn Ezra. When this Bohemian genius entered the country, bringing with him a whiff of the free air of Spain, and dazzling all with his display of Biblical knowledge and with the originality of his interpretation, he was received with enthusiasm; and his visit was long remembered.
Beside these two forces—conservatism on the one side, knowledge freeing itself from tradition on the other—appeared at this time a third, mysticism, which was destined soon to show itself all-powerful. Isaac the Blind, son of Abraham b. David (RABaD), was the founder of Cabala, and Isaac's son Asher was also a renowned cabalist, while even Abraham himself manifested a tendency toward mysticism. The same is true of the family of Meshullam b. Jacob, whose sons Aaron and Jacob are likewise reputed to have inclined toward such speculations (Gross, in "Monatsschrift," 1874, p. 173).
Thus from north to south French Judaism of the twelfth century affords the spectacle of an intense intellectual excitement.Thirteenth Century. Northern France: Recalled by Philip Augustus, 1198.
This century, which opened with the return of the Jews to France proper (then reduced almost to the Isle of France), closed with their complete exile from France in a larger sense. In the month of July, 1198, Philip Augustus, "contrary to the general expectation and despite his own edict, recalled the Jews to Paris and made the churches of God suffer great persecutions" (Rigord). The king adopted this measure from no good will toward the Jews, for he had shown his true sentiments a short time before in the Bray affair. But since then he had learned that the Jews could be an excellent source of income from a fiscal point of view, especially as money-lenders. Not only did he recall them to his estates, but, as has been pointed out by Vuitry ("Etudes sur le Régime Financier de la France," i. 315 et seq.), he gave state sanction by his ordinances to their operations in banking and pawnbroking. He placed their business under control, determined the legal rate of interest, and obliged them to have seals affixed to all their deeds. Naturally this trade was taxed, and the affixing of the royal seal was paid for by the Jews. Henceforward there was in the treasury a special account called "Produit des Juifs," and the receipts from this source increased continually. At the same time it was to the interest of the treasury to secure possession of the Jews, considered as a fiscal resource. The Jews were therefore made serfs of the king in the royal demain, just at a time when the charters, becoming wider and wider, tended to bring about the disappearance of serfdom. In certain respects their position became even harder than that of serfs, for the latter could in certain cases appeal to custom and were often protected by the Church; but there was no custom to which the Jews might appeal, and the Church laid them under its ban. The kings and the lords said "my Jews," just as they said "my lands," and they disposed in like manner of the one and of the other (Vuitry, l.c. after Brussel, "Nouvel Examen de l'Usage Général des Fiefs en France," i., book ii., ch. xxxix., pp. 569 et seq., Paris, 1750; "Ordonnances des Rois de France," i. 35, 44). The lords imitated the king: "they endeavored to have the Jews considered an inalienable dependence of their fiefs, and to establish the usage that if a Jew domiciled in one barony passed into another, the lord of his former domicil should have the right to seize his possessions." This agreement was made in 1198 between the king and the Count of Champagne in a treaty, the terms of which provided that neither should retain in his domains the Jews of the otherwithout the latter's consent, and furthermore that the Jews should not make loans or receive pledges without the express permission of the king and the count (Vuitry, l.c.). Other lords made similar conventions with the king (see Brussel, l.c.). Thence-forth they too had a revenue known as the "Produit des Juifs," comprising the taille, or annual quit-rent, the legal fees for the writs necessitated by the Jews' law trials, and the seal duty. A thoroughly characteristic feature of this fiscal policy is that the bishops (according to the agreement of 1204 regulating the spheres of ecclesiastical and seigniorial jurisdiction) continued to prohibit the clergy from excommunicating those who sold goods to the Jews or who bought from them.Innocent III.
Indeed, king and lords even took a firm stand against Pope Innocent III. when he protested in 1205 against this new condition of affairs. The pontiff wrote to the king to censure him for his indulgence. If he was to believe what he had heard, the Jews by their usurious practises had gotten into their power the goods of the Church, they occupied castles, they acted as stewards and managers for the nobles, they had Christian servants, and Christian nurses on whom they committed abominable crimes. The civil authorities attached more faith to a deed signed by a debtor at the moment of the loan than to the witnesses whom he produced denying this deed. At Sens the Jews had been permitted to construct a synagogue higher than a church near which it stood, and there they sang so loudly as to disturb the service in the church. On Easter Day they walked in the streets and offered insults to the faith, maintaining that he whom their ancestors had crucified had been only a peasant. Their houses remained open till the middle of the night and served to receive stolen goods; assassination even occurred, as in the case of a poor scholar who had recently been found dead in the house of a Jew ("Diplòme de Brequigny," ii. 2, 610; Bouquet, xix. 471). The pope wrote in the same spirit to the Duke of Burgundy and to the Countess of Troyes and the Count de Nevers (1208; Bouquet, xix, 497). But his efforts were of no avail. Eudes, Duke of Burgundy, having been informed by Philip Augustus that the pope had taken the Crusaders under his protection and had exempted those who set out for Jerusalem from the payment of the interest due their creditors, replied that "the pope can not, without the consent of the king, make any arrangement which may prejudice the rights of the king and the barons," and he counseled the latter to resist the innovations which would thus be introduced into the kingdom.Under Louis VIII. and St. Louis.
It is probably at this epoch that the rule was established, "Li meuble au Juif le roi sunt au roi," or "Li meuble au Juif sunt au baron" ("Etablissements de St. Louis," ed. Viollet, ii. 249-250, ch. 132-133, drawn from the "Customs of Anjou"). Louis VIII. (1223-1226), in his "Etablissement sur les Juifs" of 1223 ("Ordonnances," i. 47), while more inspired with the doctrines of the Church than his father, Philip Augustus, knew also how to look after the interests of his treasury. Although he declared that from Nov. 8, 1223, the interest on Jews' debts should no longer hold good, he at the same time ordered that the capital should be repaid to the Jews in three years and that the debts due the Jews should be inscribed and placed under the control of their lords. The lords then collected the debts for the Jews, doubtless receiving a commission. Louis furthermore ordered that the special seal for Jewish deeds should be abolished and replaced by the ordinary one (Petit-Dutailles, "Etude sur la Vie et le Regne de Louis VIII." Paris, 1894, in 101st fascicle of the Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes). In spite of all these restrictions designed to restrain, if not to suppress, the operations of loans, Louis IX. (1226-70), with his ardent piety and his submission to the Church, unreservedly condemned loans at interest. He was less amenable than Philip Augustus to fiscal considerations. Despite former conventions, in an assembly held at Melun in December, 1230 ("Ordonnances," i. 53), he compelled several lords to sign an agreement not to authorize the Jews to make any loan. No one in the whole kingdom was allowed to detain a Jew belonging to another, and each lord might recover a Jew who belonged to him, just as he might his own slave ("tanquam proprium servum"), wherever he might find him and however long a period had elapsed since the Jew had settled elsewhere. At the same time the ordinance of 1223 was enacted afresh, which only proves that it had not been carried into effect. Both king and lords were forbidden to borrow from the Jews. In 1234 the king went a step further; he liberated his subjects from the third part of their registered debts to the Jews. It was ordained that the third should be restored to those who had already paid their debts, but that the debtors should acquit themselves of the remaining two-thirds within a specified time. It was forbidden to imprison Christians or to sell their real estate in order to recover debts owed to the Jews ("Ordonnances," i. 54). The king wished in this way to strike a deadly blow at usury.Increased Restrictions Under St. Louis.
Before his departure for the Crusade in 1249 his increasingly stringent piety suggested to him the expulsion of the Jews from the royal domains and the confiscation of a part of their possessions, but the order for the expulsion was only partly enforced if at all (see on this obscure question Bouquet, xxiii. 214; Matthew Paris, iii. 104; I. Loeb, in "R. E. J." xx. 26). Later he became conscience-stricken, and, overcome by scruples, he feared lest the treasury, by retaining some part of the interest paid by the borrowers, might be enriched with the product of usury. Also in 1257 or 1258 ("Ordonnances," i. 85), wishing, as he says, to provide for his safety of soul and peace of conscience, he issued a mandate for the restitution in his name of the amount of usurious interest which had been collected on the confiscated property, the restitution to be made either to those who had paid it or to their heirs. Later, after having discussed the subject with his son-in-law, Thibaut, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne, he decided to seize the persons and the property of the Jews (Sept. 13, 1268). But an order which followed close upon this last (1269) shows that on this occasion also St. Louis reconsidered the matter. Nevertheless, at the request of Paul Christian (PabloChristiani), he compelled the Jews, under penalty of a fine, to wear at all times the "rouelle" or badge decreed by the Lateran Council in 1215. This consisted of a piece of red felt or cloth cut in the form of a wheel, four fingers in circumference, which had to be attached to the outer garment at the chest and back.Disputations Between Jews and Christians.
The pious zeal of St. Louis manifested itself in other ways also. One day, according to Joinville ("Vie de Saint Louis," ed. De Wailly, pp. 18-19), a great disputation between the clergy and the Jews was held at the monastery of Cluny. A knight, having demanded from the abbot permission to speak first, said to the leader of the Jews: "Do you believe that the Virgin Mary, who bore God in her body and arms, gave birth while a virgin and was mother of God?" On the reply of the Jew in the negative the knight, calling himself a fool for having entered the Jew's house, struck him. The Jews fled, carrying their wounded rabbi with them. When the abbot reproached the knight for his conduct, the latter replied that it was a greater fault to hold such disputations, since good Christians, through a misunderstanding of the arguments of the Jews, would become infidels. With regard to this, St. Louis said to the chronicler: "No one, unless he be very well instructed, shall be allowed to dispute with them, but if a layman hear the Christian law reviled, he shall defend it with his sword, of which he shall force as much into his body as he can make enter." These controversies were never sought for by the Jews, who were well acquainted with the danger of discussions. But the clergy and the friars were possessed by the desire, not so much to convert the Jews, as to let Christians see the defeat of the Synagogue. The very existence of the Jews was a subject which troubled simple souls, and it was well to explain to them that the obduracy "of those rebels" was due to the stupidity of their beliefs. With this end in view, various treatises had as early as the twelfth century been composed against the Jews, such as "Annulus seu Dialogus Christiani et Judei de Fidei Sacramentis," by Rupert; "Tractatus Adversus Judæorum Inveteratum Duritiem," by Pierre le Venerable, but attributed wrongly to William of Champeaux; "Tractatus Contra Judæum," anonymous; "Liber Contra Perfidiem Judæorum," by Pierre de Blois (on these works see Israel Lévi in "R. E. J." v. 239 et seq., and Isidore Loeb, "La Controverse Religieuse Entre les Chrétiens et les Juifs au Moyen Age en France et en Espagne," in "Revue de l'Histoire des Religions," 1888, p. 17).
In the thirteenth century such treatises were composed not only in Latin but also in French; e.g., "De la Disputaison de la Sinagogue et de la Sainte Eglise" (Jubinal, "Mystères du XVe Siècle," ii, 404-408), and "La Disputaison du Juyf et du Crestien" ("Hist. Littèr. de la France," 23, 217). From Hebrew works it is evident that the rabbis were sometimes tormented by the Christians, generally by the members of the clergy or of the orders (Geiger, "Proben Jüdischer Vertheidigung Gegen Christ. Angriffe im Mittelalter," in Breslauer's "Jahrbuch," i. and ii., 1850-51). Of interest for the Jewish side of the disputations is a curious collection of the thirteenth century containing replies made "to infidels and Christians" by Joseph l'Official and several members of his family (Zadoc Kahn, "Le Livre de Joseph le Zelateur," in "R. E. J." i. 222 et seq., iii. 1 et seq.). Among the Christian disputants were some of the most distinguished members of the French clergy: the Archbishop of Sens, the Chancellor of Paris, the confessor of the queen, the bishops of Mans, of Meaux, of Poitiers, of Angoulême, of Angers, of Vannes, of St. Malo, the Abbot of Cluny, and the Dominican friars. "The astonishing and extraordinary point in their replies is the free spirit of the Christian clergy and the free speech of the Jews." The "infidels" to whom the responses of the Jews were addressed were converts who with all the ardor of neophytes showed themselves as the bitter enemies of their former coreligionists. St. Louis favored conversions; several of the proselytes were held at the baptismal font by the king himself, and were named after him. As the property of converts was confiscated because of the loss which resulted to the treasury from the cessation of the payment of the taxes imposed on Jews, the king granted them pensions (Tillemont, "Vie de St. Louis," ed. J. de Gaulle, v. 296 et seq.). In 1239 Nicholas Donin, a convert from La Rochelle, brought before Pope Gregory a formal accusation against the Talmud, charging that it contained blasphemies against Jesus, against God, against morality, and against the Christians, not to speak of many errors, follies, and absurdities. The pope thereupon addressed bulls to the bishops of France, England, and Castile, to the bishop and to the priors of the Dominicans and the Franciscans of Paris, directing that all copies of the Talmud should be seized and that an investigation of the contents of this work should be made. In France alone, it seems, was this order obeyed. On March 3, 1240, while the Jews were in the synagogues, all copies of the Talmud were seized.Burning of the Talmud.
On June 12, 1240, a public debate was opened between Donin and four representatives of the Jews: Jehiel of Paris, Judah b. David of Melun, Samuel b. Solomon (perhaps Sir Morel de Falaise), and Moses de Couçy. The most weighty arguments were advanced by Jehiel, who has left a procès verbal of the controversy. After the disputation a tribunal was appointed to pass judgment upon the Talmud, among its members being Eudes de Chateauroux, Chancellor of the University of Paris; Guillaume d'Auvergne, Bishop of Paris; and the Inquisitor Henri de Cologne. After the same rabbis had been heard a second time, the Talmud was condemned to be burned. Two years after (in the middle of 1242) twenty-four cartloads of Hebrew books were solemnly burned at Paris. Doubtless all the copies had not been found, for in 1244 Innocent IV. wrote to St. Louis to institute a new confiscation. A little later, while at Lyons, the pope listened to the complaints of the Jews, and in 1247 he asked Eudes de Chateauroux to examine the Talmud from the Jewish standpoint, and to ascertain whether it might not be tolerated as harmless to the Christian faith, and whether the copies which had been confiscated might not be returned to their owners. Therabbis had represented to him that without the aid of the Talmud they could not understand the Bible or the rest of their statutes. Eudes informed the pope that the change of attitude involved in such a decision would be wrongly interpreted; and on May 15, 1248, the Talmud was condemned for the second time (Isidore Loeb in "R. E. J." i. 116, 247 et seq., ii. 248 et seq., iii. 39 et seq.; A. Darmesteter, ib. i. 140; Noël Valois, "Guillaume d'Auvergne," Paris, 1880). This was a fatal blow to Talmudic study in northern France, and from that moment it began to decline.
Under a king so pious and so hostile to the Jews as St. Louis, the Church could give free vent to its desire for regulating their condition. Never were so many councils occupied with their fate as in his reign: those of Narbonne (1227), Château Gautier (1231), Béziers (1246), Valence (1248), Alby (1254), Montpellier (1258), and Vienne (1267) all passed decrees affecting the Jews (Labbe, xi. 305, 444, 685, 698, 737, 781, 863). A comparison of these decrees with the ordinances of St. Louis shows that usually the pious king merely sanctioned the measures dictated by the bishops. But at length, in order to bring about the conversion of the Jews, St. Louis compelled them in 1269 to listen to the famous Paul Christian (Pablo Christiani, a converted Jew who had become a Dominican), to reply to the questions which he might put to them pertaining to religion, and to show him whatever books they had (Le Nain de Tillemont, v. 294; Ulysse Robert in "R. E. J." iii. 216). According to a Hebrew text (Neubauer in "J. Q. R." v. 713), a controversy appears to have taken place at Paris in 1273 between this Paul (wrongly called "Cordelier") and some French rabbis having at their head Abraham b. Solomon of Dreux; some of the sessions were held at the court of St. Louis' successor, Philip the Bold (1270-85), and some at the monastery of the Franciscans, the Archbishop of Paris and high dignitaries of the Church being present. The disputation appears to have provoked the massacre of more than a thousand persons, but even this failed to effect the conversion of any of the Jews. No Christian text has recorded this occurrence.Under Philip the Bold and Philip the Fair.
Philip the Bold continued to treat the provisions of the canonical law as though they were a part of the common law. He reminded the royal officers that by the terms of the ordonnance of 1269 the Jews were compelled to abstain from all usury and to wear on their coats a colored badge ("Ordonnances," i. 312). At the Parliament of Pentecost in 1280, in accordance with a resolution adopted by the councils of 1279 and 1280, a new statute was passed prohibiting Jews from keeping Christian servants in their houses. And finally, in his ordinance of April 19, 1283, the king ordered the bailes to carry out the law preventing the Jews from repairing their synagogues and from possessing copies of the Talmud (Langlois, "Philippe le Hardi," p. 298). With Philip the Fair the Jews reached the nadir of their misfortune. It was not for nothing that the wearing of the badge was required, and that accusations of sorcery had been made (Ordonnance on the improvement of morals of 1254); and now the belief in ritual murder was to reappear. Since the previous century it had been scarcely mentioned in France. At Valreas, however, in 1247 it had caused several Jews to be sentenced to torture ("R. E. J." vii. 304); at Pons in Saintonge Jews seem to have been accused of the same crime, but at what date is not known ("Joseph le Zelateur" in "R. E. J." iii. 15); and at Troyes on April 25, 1288, for the pretended murder of a Christian child thirteen Jews chosen from among the richer members of the community were condemned by the Inquisition to perish in the flames. Several elegies, and a very fine French ballad written in Hebrew characters, commemorate this last event (A. Darmesteter in "R. E. J." ii. 199 et seq.).Blood Accusation and Host Desecration.
Two years later at Paris a Jew and his wife living in the Rue des Billettes were burned together, but this time on a new charge, that of piercing the host. The heinous crime was discovered by the clots of blood which sprang from the host and which nothing could stop. Ballads perpetuated the story of this miracle; the stained-glass windows of many churches commemorated it; and later, in the controversies between Catholic and Protestant theologians concerning the Real Presence, it furnished an argument for the former in favor of their thesis. Even to-day the "miracle of the Rue des Billettes" is recalled each year in the Church St. Jean-St. François, Rue Charlot, Paris (Bouquet, xx. 658; xxi. 127, 132; xxii. 32). But it was not superstition which guided Philip the Fair, who was a very practical politician. Even before ascending the throne, as Vuitry justly remarks (new series, i. 91), he had perceived the value of the Jews from a financial standpoint. In taking possession of Champagne in 1284 in the name of his wife, he received 25,000 livres as a gift from the Jews of that province, in return for which he confirmed their terms of settlement. In 1288 he even claimed that in his royal capacity all the Jews belonged to him; but he was compelled to recognize the right of the lords to the possession of some of them (Boutaric, "La France sous Philippe le Bel," p. 300). Submitted to his caprices, the Jews were by turns protected and persecuted, according to the interests of the moment. In 1288, considering that they were a fruitful possession for his demain, he refused to allow them to be imprisoned upon the requisition of the Church without the seneschal or the baile being informed ("Ordonnances,"i. 317).Increasing Taxation.
Advised in 1302 that the Inquisitors wished to inquire into certain cases concerning the Jews, on the plea that charges of usury and sorcery were involved, he forbade the officers and royal judges to arrest or even disturb any Jew at the request of the Inquisitors (ib. 346). Nevertheless in 1290 he had expelled all the Jews coming from Gascony and England (ib. 317), doubtless to avoid all dispute with his powerful neighbor, the English king. In 1292 he levied, through the agency of the Jew Manasseh of Croise, an extra tax on the Jews (Boutaric, p. 300); in 1295 he arrested them all, ordering that an inventory of their goods should be drawn up, and that they should not be released without a special order from him. Their money was to beturned over to receivers; objects of value which had been left in pawn with them might be repurchased by their owners during a period of eight days, after which they would be sold for the benefit of the treasury (Boutaric, p. 301). But this was only a threat to compel the Jews to satisfy the royal demands. In 1299 the king imposed on them another tax, and at the same time renewed the edict of 1230 ("Ordonnances," i. 333; Brussel, p. 609). Again in 1303 he imposed a tax upon them; but the Jews alleged this time that since they had not been able to obtain the payment of moneys due to them, they were not in a position to pay the new tax punctually. The king thereupon ordered his officers to compel the debtors of the Jews to pay their debts ("Ordonnances," i.545). Thenceforth, although the Jews found themselves unable to meet any further exactions, the demands of Philip the Fair became more imperious.Exile of 1306.
Toward the middle of 1306 the treasury was nearly empty, and the king, as he was about to do the following year in the case of the Templars, decided to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. He condemned the Jews to banishment, and took forcible possession of their property, real and personal (Bouquet, xxi. 27; "Continuation de Nangis," p. 355). Their houses, lands, and movable goods were sold at auction; and for the king were reserved any treasures found buried in the dwellings that had belonged to the Jews. That Philip the Fair intended merely to fill the gap in his treasury, and was not at all concerned about the well-being of his subjects, is shown by the fact that he put himself in the place of the Jewish moneylenders and exacted from their Christian debtors the payment of their debts, which they themselves had to declare. Furthermore, three months before the sale of the property of the Jews the king took measures to insure that this event should be coincident with the prohibition of clipped money, in order that those who purchased the goods should have to pay in undebased coin. Finally, fearing that the Jews might have hidden some of their treasures, he declared that one-fifth of any amount found should be paid to the discoverer (Vuitry, "Etudes," new series, i. 91 et seq.; Simeon Luce, "Catalogue des Documents du Trésor des Chartres Relatifs aux Juifs sous le Regne de Philippe le Bel"). It was on July 22, the day after the Ninth of Ab, that the Jews were arrested. In prison they received notice that they had been sentenced to exile; that, abandoning their goods and debts, and taking only the clothes which they had on their backs and the sum of 12 sous tournois each, they would have to quit the kingdom within one month ("R. E. J." ii. 15 et seq.; Saige, pp. 27, 28, 87 et seq.). Speaking of this exile, a French historian has said: "The expulsion of 1306 was, taking all things into account, practically the revocation of the Edict of Nantes issued by the Louis XIV. of the Middle Ages [i.e., Philip the Fair]. In striking at the Jews Philip the Fair at the same time dried up one of the most fruitful sources of the financial, commercial, and industrial prosperity of his kingdom" (Simeon Luce in "R. E. J." ii. 16).
Although the history of the Jews of France in a way began its course again a short time afterward, it may be said that in reality it ceased at this date. It was specially sad for them that during the preceding century the kingdom of France had increased considerably in extent. Outside the Isle of France, it now comprised Champagne, the Vermandois, Normandy, Perche, Maine, Anjou, Touraine, Poitou, the Marche, Lyonnais, Auvergne, and Languedoc, reaching from the Rhöne to the Pyrenees—Provence, as the Jews called it. The exiles could not take refuge anywhere except in Lorraine, the county of Burgundy, Savoy, Dauphiné, Roussillon, and a part of Provence. It is not possible to estimate the number of fugitives; that given by Grätz, 100,000 ("Gesch." 3d ed., vii. 245), has no foundation in fact.
The fate of the Jews of the south in the course of the thirteenth century by no means resembled their previous experience. It was a period of reaction. The coalition of the pope, the Church, and the enemies of the counts of Toulouse now forced the counts, who with their vassals had a century before protected the Jews so efficaciously, to yield to the intolerance of the times. The crusade against the Albigenses had partly for its cause the fact that Raymond VI. and his vassals had confided certain public offices to the Jews; and this wrong was one of those for which the Count of Toulouse and a dozen of his principal vassals made the amende honorable at the Council of St. Gilles (1209), by swearing not to entrust public or private offices to Jews in the future(Vaissette, iii. 162-163). In his territory they were not allowed even to lease the tolls, imposts, or other revenues. At Narbonne, however, they continued to act as brokers down to 1306. Their condition became worse when in 1229 Raymond VII. had to give up to Blanche of Castile, mother of St. Louis, the portion of Lower Languedoc extending from Carcassonne to Beaucaire; and still more precarious when, after Raymond's death in 1249, his daughter Jeanne, wife of Alphonse of Poitiers, the brother of St. Louis, inherited the remainder of his dominions. Alphonse of Poitiers' policy toward the Jews was similar to that of his brother, with this difference, however, says Boutaric, his biographer (p. 318), that, while St. Louis undertook to drive usury out of his kingdom, Alphonse desired to enrich himself. As Count of Poitou, in 1249 he granted to the inhabitants of La Rochelle the privilege of no longer harboring Jews in their city. He even agreed to expel the Jews from Poitiers, St. Jean d'Angely, Niort, Saintes, and St. Maxient, on condition that those cities indemnify him for his loss. But the Jews apparently offered larger sums in order to be allowed to remain; in a record dated 1250 it is in fact noted that the Jews of Poitou had made a partial payment of 1,000 livres. Alphonse, like his brother, ordered the Jews to wear the circular badge (1269), but he subsequently sold them exemption from this law (Archives Nationales, J. J. 24d, fol. 720). Being in need of money, in 1268 he again followed his brother's example and arrested all the Jews in his domains, sequestrating their property. He desired to do the same in the territory of the barons, but the latter protested, since they had received large sums from the Jews in return for permission to dwell there; and Alphonse was obliged to yield (Boutaric, pp. 320, 321). The arrest of the Jews proved so obnoxious that the count consented to liberate the poor, the sick, the children under fourteen years, and all those that agreed to declare the amount of their possessions. The seneschals received orders to promise the prisoners liberty in return for a ransom, and to bid them send two of the wealthiest among them to the count, who would confer with them directly. A number of the Jews who had made false statements in regard to their property were kept close prisoners. Others, weary of confine ment, turned informers. One of these reported to the seneschal of Poitou that certain treasures had been hidden in cellars. This report proved true, and the success of the search soon reached the ears of the other seneschals. One of the informers incurred the enmity of Jews and Christians to such an extent that he did not dare remain in the territory of the count. The Jews were finally liberated on payment of large sums, which those under each seneschal's jurisdiction undertook to pay jointly, as follows: those of Poitou 8,000 livres, of Saintonge 6,000 livres, of Rouergue 1,000 livres, and of Auvergne 2,000 livres. Those of Toulouse promised to pay 3,500 livres, Alphonse having estimated their possessions at only 1,300 livres, but he now ordered them to pay 5,000 livres (ib.). This spoliation was not as profitable as the count had expected, for his agents filled their own pockets with the sums extorted from the Jews. In 1270 Alphonse again harassed the Jews, commanding them to return to their debtors all sums which they had received as usury. He himself derived the benefit of this procedure, for the pope had authorized him to devote such sums to defraying in part the expenses of the Crusade. On the death of Alphonse of Poitiers his estates came into possession of Philip the Bold, and the Jews of these provinces now shared the fate of their coreligionists of the north, whose history has been recounted above. (On the relation of the Jews to the local seigniors, see Saige, passim.)Relations with the Inquisition.
The Inquisition, which had been instituted in order to suppress the heresy of the Albigenses, finally occupied itself with the Jews of southern France also. The popes complained that not only were baptized Jews returning to their former faith, but that Christians also were being converted to Judaism. In March, 1273, Gregory X. formulated the following rules: Relapsed Jews, as well as Christians who abjured their faith in favor of "the Jewish superstition," were to be treated by the Inquisitors as heretics. The instigators of such apostasies, as well as those who received or defended the guilty ones, were to be punished in the same way as the delinquents. It was in accordance with these rules that on Jan. 4, 1278, the Jews of Toulouse, who had buried a Christian convert in their cemetery, were brought before the Inquisition for trial, and their rabbi, Isaac Males, was condemned to the stake (Vaissette, original ed., iv., documents, col. 5). Philip the Fair, as mentioned above, at first ordered his seneschals not to imprison any Jews at the instance of the Inquisitors, but in 1299 he rescinded this order (see Israel Lévi, "Les Juifs et l'Inquisition dans la France Méridionale," 1891; Lea, "History of the Inquisition," ii. 96).The Schools of Paris and Elsewhere.
When the edict of exile was suddenly pronounced in 1306, the intellectual decadence of the Jews of northern France was already far advanced. But down to the time of the burning of the Talmud, that is, down to the first half of the thirteenth century, the rabbinical schools flourished and preserved their prestige. Talmudic scholars continued the work of the tosafists; the school of Sir Leon (d. 1224) at Paris attracted many disciples, and flourished still more under his successor, Jehiel b. Joseph, alias Sir Vives of Meaux. Among the 300 pupils that the latter gathered around him were Isaac of Corbeil, his son-in-law; Perez b. Elijah, of the same city; Judah ha-Kohen, probably of Mayence; and the celebrated Meïr of Rothenburg. On account of Jehiel's eminence he was chosen to direct the disputation relating to the Talmud, referred to above. After the condemnation of that work, however, the school of Paris declined. Jehiel even sent an emissary to Palestine to collect subsidies for his academy; he finally left France (c. 1260) to end his days in the Holy Land. A part of his tosafot, consultations, and decisions have been preserved. Jehiel's school ceased to exist after his departure. Samuel of Evreux, a distinguished tosafist, and a contemporary of Jehiel, taught at Château-Thierry. Hiselder brother, Moses of Evreux, was the author of the "Tosafot of Evreux." Samuel b. Solomon of Falaise, alias Sir Morel, who took part in the disputation of Paris, also conducted a famous school; he was considered one of the most learned tosafists. Judah b. David, Sir Morel's companion in the disputation, taught at Melun. Moses of Coucy, the fourth of the disputants, was distinguished for his oratorical ability. In 1235-36 he traveled through France and Spain, preaching the observance of the religious ordinances, and the practise of justice and charity toward all, Jews and non-Jews alike; and in 1250 he edited a collection of Jewish laws ("Sefer Miẓwot Gadol," or "SeMaG") which had great authority. His tosafot and his commentaries to the Pentateuch added to his fame. Isaac of Corbeil, Jehiel's son-in-law, who presided over the school of Corbeil, published in 1277 an abridged edition of the "Semag" under the title "'Ammude ha-Golah" or "Sefer Miẓwot Ḳaṭan" ("SeMaḲ"), a sort of Talmudic breviary, containing a miscellany of religious and moral reflections and some fables. Perez b. Elijah of Corbeil, who also taught in that city, was the last tosafist; a voluminous writer, he composed, in addition to some well-known tosafot, Talmudic commentaries and glosses, and several ritual collections. His contemporary, Isaac b. Isaac of Chinon, was called "head of the Talmudic schools of France." Previous to Perez b. Elijah, Nathaniel the Holy had directed the rabbinic school of Chinon (after 1224). Eliezer of Touques, likewise one of the last tosafists, collected extracts from the tosafot of Sens, of Evreux, and of other schools, and added to them some of his own. The unsettled character of the times induced the rabbis to be content with merely collecting the work of their predecessors, so that the Talmudists of the second half of the thirteenth century, in contrast to those of the preceding century, were chiefly compilers. Nor can the Bible commentaries of this century compare with those of the preceding century; the tosafot to the Torah, Aaron b. Joseph's "Gan" (1250), Isaac ha-Levi b. Judah's "Pa'aneaḥ Raza," and Hezekiah b. Manoah's "Ḥazḳunni" (1240) are interesting compilations, in which are contained many ingenious interpretations, but in which the Haggadah, and to a greater degree gemaṭria, occupy a too prominent place. Berechiah ha-Naḳdan stands out from among these men of somewhat limited views; he was interested in theologic questions, translated a lapidary and Adelard of Bath's "Quæstiones Naturales," and composed a charming collection of fables in rimed prose intermixed with verse (I. Lævi, in "R. E. J." xlvi. 285).Jewish Learning in Southern France.
The Jews of the south of France were meanwhile studying not only the Talmud, the Bible, and questions pertaining to the ritual, but also the humanities; and they even cultivated poetry. Science was introduced in the form of translations from the Arabic. Samuelibn Tibbon (flourished 1199-1213) translated into Hebrew Maimonides' "Guide" and several of his smaller writings, Aristotle's "Meteorology," a philosophical treatise of Averroes, and various medical works; and also wrote original theses on these subjects. His son-in-law, Jacob b. Abba Mari b. Anatoli, who stood in friendly relation with Michael Scot, may be said, with the latter, to have introduced Averroism into the West. He was also the first to apply the rationalism of Maimonides to the interpretation of the Bible. His "Malmad ha-Talmidim" is a collection of philosophic-allegorical homilies on the Bible and the Haggadah. An advanced thinker, he attacked Christianity and Mohammedanism, as well as in general the belief in miracles, the monastic life, and the ignorance and hypocrisy of his time. In his explanations of the text of the Scriptures he does not hesitate to have recourse to the erudition of "Michael, the great scholar."
Moses b. Samuel ibn Tibbon surpassed his predecessors in the extent of his labors. He made accessible to the Jews almost all the commentaries of Averroes; the "Principles" of Alfarabi; Euclid; the "Almagest"; Avicenna's "Canons"; the "Aphorisms" of Hippocrates, of Ḥunain b. Isaac, and of Razes; the medical works of Maimonides, as well as all the latter's other works that had not yet been translated. Samuel's grandson, Jacob b. Machir ibn Tibbon, called "Profatius," equaled Moses in productivity as a translator, and in addition wrote scientific works. Solomon b. Moses of Melgueil, the translator of Avicenna, belongs to the same group of scholars.
Secular poetry, escaping from the fetters of religion, flourished in this liberal atmosphere. Isaac Gorni spread his compositions all over southern France, and gave a vivid picture of Jewish life. The more prolific Abraham b. Isaac Bedersi composed liturgical poems, elegies, satires, and didactic verse, in which he often displays originality of expression and delicacy of feeling. His master, Joseph b. Hanan Ezobi, devoted himself to religious poetry, while Isaiah, son of Samuel, and Phinehas ha-Levi b. Yehosifya cultivated secular poetry as well. Jedaiah Penini, son of Abraham Bedersi (alias En Bonet b. Abraham or Bonet Profiat), who belongs to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, was a man of science and a philosopher, as well as the most remarkable poet produced in French Judaism. His "Beḥinat 'Olam," which has been translated a number of times, is a world-poem of sadness and melancholy.Polemics and Apologetics.
Controversy was introduced into Provence by the Ḳimḥis. Although northern France had the work of Joseph the Zealot, this is merely a collection of brief discussions entered into in connection with certain verses of the Bible. Southern France, on the other hand, produced regular treatises in defense of Judaism against the attacks of Christianity. Joseph Ḳimḥi, who wrote the "Sefer ha-Berit" (Book of the Covenant), was followed by Meïr b. Simon of Narbonne with his "Milḥemet Miẓwah" (Holy War), which contains much information concerning the unfortunate condition of the Jews of that time. Mordecai b. Yehosifya, in his "Maḥaziḳ Emunah," defends Judaism against the attacks of Paul Christian. But the Ḳimḥis, curiously enough, could not introduce into Provence the severe and grammatical exegesis which they hadbrought from Spain; for the advanced exegetes, like Jacob Anatoli, Nissim of Marseilles, and Levi of Villefranche, mentioned above, went further than the Ḳimḥis in their free treatment of the text, and, dominated by a boundless admiration for Maimonides, could permit no other than the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures. The Talmud continued to be assiduously studied by numbers of scholars; but they were not leaders in the intellectual world, and even their principal works contain nothing particularly striking. Nevertheless, the following may be mentioned: Meshullam b. Moses of Béziers, with his "Sefer ha-Shelamah"; Abraham ha-Levi b. Joseph b. Benvenisti, with his novellæ and his "Bedeḳ ha-Bayit," a criticism of Solomon b. Adret's "Torat ha-Bayit"; and Menahem b. Solomon Meïri (Don Vidal Solomon), with his commentaries on the Talmud and his "Bet ha-Beḥirah," an introduction to the commentary of Abot, and interesting for the information it gives concerning the rabbis of the time. The novellæ ("ḥiddushim"), which were characteristic of Provence, no longer showed any originality. There was a fundamental difference between the new learning originating with Maimonides and the traditional learning centering in the Talmud; and this difference, as was to be expected, soon led to controversies, which form one of the most interesting chapters in the history of the Jews, not only of southern France, but of entire Judaism.Maimonists and Anti-Maimonists.
The publication of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah had aroused the indignation of Abraham ibn Daud, as well as of the Spanish Talmudist Meïr b. Todros Abulafia ha-Levi, nasi of Toledo. The latter wrote his impressions to one of Maimonides' correspondents, Jonathan Cohen of Lunel: he was especially scandalized by the way in which Maimonides had juggled with the doctrine of the Resurrection; it had disturbed the Jews, and was leading them to an absolute denial of the future life. Aaron b. Meshullam of Lunel came to the defense of Maimonides, answering the Spanish scholar with much warmth. As Meïr felt that his views were not finding favor at home, he turned to the rabbis of northern France, and made Solomon of Dreux, Simson of Sens, Simson of Corbeil, David of Château-Thierry, Abraham of Touques, Eliezer b. Aaron of Bourgogne, and others, judges in the dispute. They sided with Meïr, but their discussions were confined to an exchange of letters, the dates of which are not known, though they must have been written at least before 1210, since Aaron b. Meshullam died in that year. But after Samuel ibn Tibbon translated Maimonides' "Guide of the Perplexed," the popularity of the works of the Jewish philosopher thoroughly aroused the orthodox rabbis of southern France, who regarded the dissemination of Maimonides' rationalism as dangerous to Judaism. The Talmudist Solomon b. Abraham of Montpellier, assisted by two of his pupils, David b. Saul and Jonah of Girona, threatened to excommunicate any one who should read Maimonides' works. This was the first time within Judaism that such a step had been taken; the Rabbis were doubtless influenced by the example of the Inquisition, which then held sway in that region. The Jews of southern France, who had been taught from infancy to admire Maimonides, considered it presumptuous to treat him as a heretic, and no rabbi of Provence was found willing to join Solomon of Montpellier in uttering the ban. The latter, at the instance of Meïr Abulafia, appealed for cooperation to the French rabbis, who were known for their unswervable attachment to tradition; he sent Judah of Girona to them, and he obtained their promise to support the sentence of excommunication. Thereupon all the Jews of Provence rose in protest; the rabbis of Lunel, Béziers, and Narbonne, and following them those of all the communities of that region, answered in kind, excommunicating Solomon and his two disciples. The quarrel spread across the Pyrenees, and the communities of Aragon and Castile sided with Maimonides (1232). The community of Toledo alone did not respond; this alarmed Solomon's opponents, and one of them, the famous David Ḳimḥi, who had at first been suspected of rationalism by the rabbis of northern France, but had succeeded in convincing them of his true position, set out for Spain in order to bring the community of Toledo into line. But before reaching that city he learned that its foremost scholar, Judah b. Alfakar, with whom he had previously corresponded, had published a letter in which he sided against Maimonides, declaring that the doctrine of Judaism had nothing in common with the philosophy of Aristotle. This letter had already provoked many replies. But David Ḳimḥi received at the same time the astounding news that Solomon b. Abraham, abandoned by almost all his followers, had, seemingly in a fit of madness, denounced to the Inquisition in Montpellier the "Sefer Madda'" (the introduction to the Mishneh Torah) and the "Guide" of Maimonides. The whole city of Montpellier, where the partizans and adversaries of Solomon had carried their quarrels even into the streets, was filled with consternation when the books of the famous Jewish theologian were solemnly burned (1234 or 1235). The adversaries of Maimonides were confounded by their triumph. Some, including Jonah, repented of their action in public; the vanquished heaped scorn upon the victors. It even seems that Jaime, seignior of Montpellier, who was greatly attached to two partizans of Maimonides, caused to be arrested and condemned for calumny those who had attacked Maimonides and his followers. The excitement in southern France was not allayed for a long time, and later, when the contest took place between the liberal and orthodox parties, although it too was based on Maimonides' teachings, no one dared mention his name or attack his opinions. The quarrel was in fact renewed in 1303 by Abba Mari b. Moses b. Joseph (also known as "En Astruc") of Lunel, assisted by Simon b. Joseph ("En Duran") of Lunel.Dispute About Philosophical Studies
In several letters addressed to Solomon b. Adret of Barcelona, the foremost rabbinical authority of the time, Abba Mari pointed out the errors of the philosophical school, which interpreted as allegories not only passages of the Talmud, but also Bible stories. Thus Abraham and Sarah were taken to signify the union of matter and form; the twelve tribes to mean the twelve planets; etc. Furthermore, the writer complained that instead of praying andreciting the Psalms, the people read Aristotle and Plato; and that on Sabbaths and festivals the young people studied works devoted to dangerous interpretations. He declared that steps must be taken to check this peril, and that the books dangerous to the faith must be excommunicated. Although Solomon b. Adret shared the views of his correspondent, he did not dare to take the initiative in so grave a matter, but desired to wait until the communities interested in the question should force the action upon him. Abba Mari then took the matter into his own hands, and wrote successively to most of the rabbis of Provence. Levi of Villefranche, a scholar who was visiting Samuel Sulami, was charged with having interpreted the Scriptures allegorically, and his host no longer dared to keep him in his house. Soon the communities were again divided. A letter from Barcelona, signed by Solomon b. Adret and fourteen other rabbis, and threatening with excommunication any one who should engage in philosophic studies before the age of thirty, was brought to Montpellier. This letter was not published immediately, as the community desired to examine it first. After long discussions Abba Mari, in spite of the opposition of the famous Jacob b. Machir, one of the Ibn Tibbons, finally decided to read it in the synagogue of Montpellier. But because many of the faithful rallied to the support of Jacob b. Machir, Abba Mari was forced to abandon the matter. The quarrel between the orthodox and the liberal factions became ever more bitter, and both sides wrote to the rabbis of Barcelona explaining the state of affairs. Solomon b. Adret, frightened by the attitude of his adversaries, did not dare to take part openly against them, but asked Abba Mari to reconsider the matter, being himself disposed to rest satisfied with the open repentance of Levi of Villefranche, the only guilty one. Solomon took this stand in consequence of the increasing number of protests that reached him. That sent by Jacob b. Machir, imperious in tone, defended philosophic studies and taxed Solomon b. Adret with duplicity. Adret was hard pressed by Abba Mari and the other rabbis, and finally, in the month of Ab, 1305, the interdiction against studying "Greek" books before the age of twenty-five, and against interpreting the Scriptures allegorically, was pronounced in the synagogue of Barcelona. The liberal party of Montpellier, headed by Solomon of Lunel, instead of confessing itself defeated, applied to the governor of Montpellier, without whose authorization the sentence of excommunication could not be uttered against the Jews of the city; and Solomon then pronounced an anathema upon all who should forbid their children the study of science. The quarrel continued, and rabbis from all parts of Provence took sides for or against the sentence of excommunication pronounced by Solomon b. Adret. The poet Jedaiah Penini wrote a strong letter to the rabbi of Barcelona, entreating him for the honor of Judaism and in the interest of science to revoke his sentence of excommunication. At this point the edict of Philip the Fair put a sad end to the quarrel.Return of the Jews to France, 1315:
Nine years had hardly passed since the expulsion of 1306 when Louis X. (1314-16) recalled the Jews. In an edict dated July 28, 1315, he permitted them to return for a period of twelve years, authorizing them to establish themselves in the cities in which they had lived before their banishment. He issued this edict in answer to the demands of the people. Geoffroy of Paris, the popular poet of the time, says in fact that the Jews were gentle in comparison with the Christians who had taken their place, and who had flayed their debtors alive; if the Jews had remained, the country would have been happier; for there were no longer any money-lenders at all (Bouquet, xxii. 118). The king probably had the interests of his treasury also in view. The profits of the former confiscations had gone into the treasury, and by recalling the Jews for only twelve years he would have an opportunity for ransoming them at the end of this period. It appears that they gave the sum of 122,500 livres for the privilege of returning. It is also probable, as Vuitry states, that a large number of the debts owing to the Jews had not been recovered, and that the holders of the notes had preserved them; the decree of return specified that two-thirds of the old debts recovered by the Jews should go into the treasury. The conditions under which they were allowed to settle in the land are set forth in a number of articles; some of the guaranties which were accorded the Jews had probably been demanded by them and been paid for. They were to live by the work of their hands or to sell merchandise of a good quality; they were to wear the circular badge, and not discuss religion with laymen. They were not to be molested, either with regard to the chattels they had carried away at the time of their banishment, or with regard to the loans which they had made since then, or in general with regard to anything which had happened in the past. Their synagogues and their cemeteries were to be restored to them on condition that they would refund their value; or, if these could not be restored, the king would give them the necessary sites at a reasonable price. The books of the Law that had not yet been returned to them were also to be restored, with the exception of the Talmud. After the period of twelve years granted to them the king might not expel the Jews again without giving them a year's time in which to dispose of their property and carry away their goods. They were not to lend on usury, and no one was to be forced by the king or his officers to repay to them usurious loans. If they engaged in pawnbroking, they were not to take more than two deniers in the pound a week; they were to lend only on pledges. Two men with the title "auditors of the Jews" were entrusted with the execution of this ordinance, and were to take cognizance of all claims that might arise in connection with goods belonging to the Jews which had been sold before the expulsion for less than half of what was regarded as a fair price. The king finally declared that he took the Jews under his special protection, and that he desired to have their persons and property protected from all violence, injury, and oppression ("Ordonnances," i. 604; Brussel, p. 617; Vuitry, l.c. p. 98).Under Philip V.
Philip V. the Tall (1316-22) at first continued the policy of Louis X. with regard to the Jews. By his decrees of April, 1317, and Feb., 1319, he grantedthem certain privileges, and somewhat ameliorated their social status; but the financial consideration that induced these measures is apparent. The king modified the sentences that might be pronounced upon them; exacted the wearing of the circular badge only in the cities; placed the Jews under the jurisdiction of their own bailiffs; determined and regulated the financial operations in which they might engage; and even authorized them to own houses ("Ordonnances," i. 646, 682; Vuitry, l.c. 101). But while he decreed that they should no longer be subject to mortmain, and that their estates were to descend to their families, still the same general rule obtained as in the time of St. Louis, that the property of the Jews belonged to the seignior within whose domains they dwelt; and the king expressly declared that they were to remain subject to tallage and to pay taxes in proportion to the amount of their fortunes. While they were enjoined to sell only merchandise of a good quality, they were to indemnify the treasury, and not the deceived buyer, in cases of fraud.
Unfortunately for the Jews, this was a period of physical and intellectual misery. In 1320 appeared the Pastoureaux, a band of peasants and herdsmen, mostly less than twenty years of age, eager for battle, adventure, and pillage. They were led by unscrupulous men—a priest driven from his church on account of his misdeeds, and an unfrocked monk—and they were reenforced by hordes of miscreants and bandits. To the number of 40,000 they overran Languedoc, attacking principally the Jews, whom no one dared to protect. Five hundred of the latter sought refuge in the fortress of Verdun-sur-Garonne, and defended themselves valiantly; but, seeing their efforts useless, they decided that the eldest among them should put the others to death; he was aided in this work of martyrdom by a vigorous youth, and soon all had perished except the children, who had not been given to the sword; these were baptized. The governor of Toulouse, attempting to check this band of brigands, imprisoned some in that city, but they were liberated by the mob, who then turned to massacre the Jews. The Pastoureaux were everywhere supported by the mob, and sometimes by the citizens, who either encouraged the massacre or were afraid to protect the Jews. At Alby the consuls tried to stop the horde at the city gates, but the Pastoureaux forced their way in, shouting that they had come to kill the Jews; the populace received them as friends and brothers, "for the love of Christ, against the enemies of the faith."Under Charles IV.
At Lezat the consuls made common cause with them. Even the officials sometimes shared the popular fanaticism. The progress of the Pastoureaux was arrested only in the district of the seneschal of Carcassonne (P. Lehugeur, "Hist. de Philippe le Long," 1897; Grätz, "Geschichte," 3d ed., pp. 255 et seq.). Charles IV. subsequently appointed commissioners to inquire into the affair in the districts of the seneschals of Toulouse, Périgord, and Carcassonne; but his action was taken only because the royal treasury had suffered as a result of the riots; the cities in which the troubles had occurred were sentenced to pay a fine. Various instances show both the weakness of the authorities and the prevalent hostility toward the Jews. At Château-Thierry in 1318 the synagogue was entered, the tabernacle broken open, and the scrolls of the Law carried off ("Actes du Parlement de Paris," 5230). In 1319 certain impostors traversed the country, and, pretending to be the king's agents, searched the houses of the Jews, and despoiled them in the name of the law. At Troyes the Jews were accused of having entered the churches, and also of having shouted so loudly in their synagogues as to disturb divine services in the churches; Philip the Tall thereupon (Feb. 26, 1320) directed the bailiff of Troyes to punish the Jews so severely that in future they would cease committing such outrages ("Bibliothèque de l'Ecole de Chartres," 1849, p. 414). On July 12, 1317, the king had ordered the arrest of several persons on suspicion of having killed a child, and two Jews of Chinon had been hanged on this charge. In Puy the Jews were similarly accused (Mandet, "Hist. du Velay," iv. 117). According to one historian, "the people of that time were seized with a delirium that begat epidemics of frenzy. The public mind was disturbed by imaginary terrors; common gossip treated of nothing but compacts, witchcraft, and magic" (Fleury, "Hist. Eccl." ch. 92). In their excitement the people of Guienne imagined that the lepers had formed a conspiracy to destroy their countrymen, either by leaving the infirmaries in order to infect the healthy, or by poisoning the wells and fountains. Thereupon they seized some of these unfortunates, and without any form of trial burned them at the stake. The king, too weak to quell this uprising, sought to profit by it. He instituted an investigation; the lepers were arrested, and those that yielded to torture and confessed were condemned to the stake, and their property was confiscated. All this happened before June 21. The Bishop of Alby then took it on himself to follow the king's example, but was forced to desist and mulcted in a fine. The Jews, who, like the lepers, lived apart from the rest of the community, and who, like them, were objects of public dread, soon suffered from the same charges as had been brought against the lepers. Some of the latter, on examination, alleged that the Jews, who themselves did not dare to poison the rivers, had induced them to commit this crime.Conditions at Tours.
According to a later version of the story, it was a Jew who had thrown poison into the river at Tours. When the king was informed of this alleged crime, he condemned the Jews to pay a fine of 150,000 livres; their goods were confiscated, and the wealthiest among them were imprisoned as security for the fine. Then letters were produced, alleged to have been written by the kings of Tunis and Granada to the Jews, and offering them commissions to poison the Christians. These forgeries, however, were dated July 2, i.e., after sentence had been pronounced. According to one chronicle, some of the Jews were condemned to the stake, but the official documents disagree with this statement. While the people had attacked the lepers before the latter's condemnation, they attacked the Jews insome places only after sentence had been pronounced. On Aug. 27 one hundred and sixty Jews were thrown into a burning furnace at Chinon, among them being the famous rabbi Eliezer b. Joseph of Chinon (Estorhi Farḥi, "Kaftor wa-Feraḥ," written in 1322; on the date see D. Kaufmann in "R. E. J." xxix. 298). Doubtless other massacres took place in Languedoc, and records of them have been preserved in Kalonymus b. Kalonymus' "Eben Boḥan" (written in 1322). At Vitry le Brûlé forty Jews, imprisoned and facing death, commissioned two of their number to kill the remainder. In many places, as at Tours, Chaumont, and Vitry, the Jews, like the lepers, were put on the stand (a fact of which Kalonymus bitterly complains), and were asked to denounce their accomplices (Duplès-Agier, "Rev. de l'Ecole de Chartres," 1857, p. 267; Lehugeur, l.c.; L. Lazard, in "R. E. J." xvii. 210; Vaissette, x. 616; "Continuation de Guillaume de Nangis," Bouquet, xx. 628-629; "Continuatio Chronici Gerardi de Fracheto," xxi. 56; Jean de Saint Victor, xxi. 674; "Chron. de Saint Louis," xx. 704; "Chron. Anonyme," xxi. 140, 152; Mandet, "Hist. du Velay," iv. 117; Labbe, "Collectio Concil." xxv. 568; Brussel, p. 607; "Actes du Parlement, Mandement du 8 Février, 1322"). The entire chronology of these occurrences is obscure.
Charles IV., who succeeded Philip the Tall in 1322, undertook to collect the fine which the Jews had been sentenced to pay. While discussing this affair with the seneschals of Languedoc on Feb. 20, 1322, he foresaw that certain of the Jews would desire to leave the country (Vaissette, x. 616). In fact, such an exodus took place; but, according to Brussel, it was not a voluntary one. They were expelled on June 24, 1322. In 1324 the property of Jews was confiscated, either as a consequence of their expulsion, or as indemnity for the non-payment of the fine (Brussel, p. 623). However this may be, there were no Jews in France between 1322 and 1359 (see Isidor Loeb in "Grätz Jubelschrift," pp. 51 et seq.).Under John the Good.
After the disaster at Poitiers (1356) and the captivity of John the Good, France was in dire straits. The ransom of the king had been fixed at 3,000,000 écus in gold. Soldiers plundered everywhere; there were fields that had not been tilled for three years; the silver mark was worth 102 livres. It was then that the regent, Duke Charles of Normandy, negotiated with Manassier of Vesoul for the recall of the Jews to France; they were to remain for a period of twenty years, were to pay an entrance fee of 14 florins gold for each family, and of one florin and two tournois for each child or servant, and a yearly tax of seven florins for each family, and of one florin for each child or servant ("Ordonnances," iii. 468, 469). The charter granted to them by the dauphin Charles, and ratified March 1, 1360, by King John ("Arch. Nat." J J 89, folios 316-320), was very liberal, the Jews taking precaution to guard against the ills and injustices from which they had suffered on previous occasions. Even two guardians of these privileges were appointed for them, Robert of Outreloue for Languedoc, and the Count of Etampes for the kingdom of France proper ("Ordonnances," iii. 351, 352, 471, 472). As the Jews who returned to France at that time were chiefly engaged in money-lending, the privileges accorded to them bear chiefly on that calling; they were permitted to lend on interest at the rate of four deniers in the pound per week. That the Jews were few in number is clearly shown from the fact that between 1359 and 1394 there is scarcely any trace of Jewish intellectual activity. While John was in the south of France (Dec. 27, 1362) he permitted the Jews to practise medicine and surgery, provided that they had passed an examination before Christian instructors ("Arch. Nat." J J 93, 163; comp. "Ordonnances," iii. 603). But with his well-known duplicity he declared, in Oct., 1363, that the privileges had been abused which had been granted, and were therefore annulled. Further, he compelled them to wear the circular badge again, and in defiance of the charter of 1360 made them subject to the common courts in whatever district they were living ("Ordonnances," iii. 603, 641).Under Charles V.
Charles V. (1364-80), however, kept the contract that he had made as regent. The Count of Etampes interposed frequently in the Parliament of Paris and in other civil and ecclesiastical tribunals, on behalf of the Jews, to secure their freedom from the general jurisdiction.
Meanwhile the Jews of Paris lived quietly in the district of St. Antoine, near the dwelling of Hugues Aubriot, the grand provost of Paris, who protected them. Aubriot's enemies subsequently explained this good will by saying that he was fond of the beautiful Jewesses. He was also reproached with having restored to the Jews children that had been baptized ("Chronique des Quatre Premiers Valois," p. 295). Thefts committed against the Jews were promptly and severely punished, even when the offenders belonged to the nobility (Simeon Luce, "Rev. Hist." vii. 362 et seq.). But this state of affairs excited jealousy, and the creditors of the Jews, among whom were some of the noblemen of the highest rank, again endeavored to have them expelled from the kingdom. Thus toward the end of 1367 or the beginning of 1368 King Charles issued a decree of banishment, but revoked it before it had been put into effect ("Mandements de Charles V." ed. Delisle, No. 430, pp. 216, 217). In Languedoc, where the distress was very great and the rate of interest necessarily higher than in other parts of the country, the Jews were more bitterly hated. Attempts were made to compel them to attend service in the churches. On the complaint of Deys (or Denis) Quinon, attorney-general for the Jews, Charles V. put an end to this grievance on March 22, 1369, because, unless this was done, "the Jews might suffer great bodily harm" ("Ordonnances," v. 167, 168).
In 1370, when the king increased the general taxes, he solemnly confirmed the privileges that he had granted to the Jews, demanding of them only 1,500 francs. In 1372 he restored to them certain manuscripts which had been confiscated. But at the same time he did not lose sight of his own interests, and when he was in need of money, in 1378, he made an agreement with the Jews in accordance with which, in return for being exempted from all other imposts, they were to pay him 20,000 francs in gold, in four instalments, and 200 francs a week ("Ordonnances,"vi. 339). In 1379 he granted them an important concession in connection with the fairs of Champagne and Brie. On visiting the fairs the Jews were accustomed to take mortgages on the property of their creditors. But they could foreclose these mortgages only when solvent Christians acted as sureties, and they complained that, since they could not in general find any one to act as surety, they always lost their claims. The king therefore decreed that Jews might in future be accepted as sureties ("Ordonnances," vi. 439).Under Charles VI.
With the death of Charles V. in 1380, evil days set in for this band of money-lenders, whose sojourn in France was dependent on the interests of the treasury and the enforcement of authority. On the accession of the new king, Charles VI., the people of Paris, impatient to have the special taxes levied by Charles V. revoked, marched to the palace to make their request. This being granted, they retired; whereupon certain of the nobles, who had joined the crowd, proposed that the expulsion of the Jews be demanded. Only a short time before, the right of remaining had been granted to the Jews on the payment of certain sums. As the chancellor did not send an immediate reply, the people gathered in the streets and seized the records and the money in the public treasury. Then they rushed into a district where the Jews occupied forty houses, pillaging and plundering on all sides. In this work they were encouraged by the nobles and the bourgeoisie, who had joined the mob in order that they might seize such of their notes as were held by the Jews. Pillaging was followed by slaughter; all the Jews met were killed; such as escaped fled to the Châtelet, where they asked to be confined with the prisoners and thus be saved from the fury of the mob. The king did not yield to the people; the next day he ordered the Jews to return to their homes, and commanded, under severe penalties, the restoration of their property. But very few obeyed the royal order ("Chron. des Réligieux de St. Denis"; "Chron. de Charles VI." i. 53-57, in "Documents Inédits de l'Hist. de France"). In consequence of this riot several Jews left Paris, while others accepted baptism (Félibien-Lobineau, "Hist. de Paris," iii.).
In 1382 there was another disturbance, known as the "Riot of the Maillotins." This was caused also by the exigencies of the treasury, a new tax having been levied at the rate of a twelfth of the value of all commodities. The rioters, armed with mallets, fell upon the appraisers, and then attacked the houses of the Jews, which they pillaged for four days ("Arch. Nat." J J 122, fol. 55; 136, fol. 114). The mob looked upon the Jews as accomplices of the treasury; indeed, as a matter of fact, a large part of the usury which they exacted went into the public coffers. This riot was followed by others outside Paris. When the news came to Mantes the inhabitants of that town, incited by the soldiers, who assured them of the king's consent, pillaged the Jewish quarter ("Arch. Nat." J J 122, fol. 96; Douet d'Arcq, "Pièces Inédites Relative an Règne de Charles VI." i. 45, 56). This time again the king supported the Jews. In a letter of Charles VI. dated 1387 ("Ordonnances," vii. 169) the Jews of Paris and of several other parts of the kingdom are said to have represented themselves as having been despoiled of their property and of the pledges which they had been unable to restore to their owners ("Ordonnances," vi. 563); adding that they had become so poor and reduced in numbers that unless their coreligionists of Languedoc were compelled to bear part of the burden of the tax, they would be unable to pay the contribution levied upon them ("Ordonnances," vii. 169, 233). In proportion to the needs of the treasury, the Jews, in addition to paying the usual taxes, were compelled to advance still greater sums to the king. In return they received various dangerous concessions. They had the privilege of exacting interest at the rate of a denier in the pound per week, but were forbidden to take compound interest. Yet some thought they were authorized to exact this, and the public prosecutor and the officers of justice proceeded against the guilty ones, but when they complained to the king the latter imposed "perpetual silence" on the prosecutor and granted the Jews immunity from all persecution for the period of ten years ("Ordonnances," vii. 170). They also obtained the suppression of the "letters of regret" which persons indebted to them had caused to be issued by royal authority. In 1388 the king declared that letters of this class which had been signed by him would in the future be regarded as void, but he demanded of the Jews 10,000 livres for affixing his seal to this concession ("Ordonnances," vii. 170). The judiciary, however, jealous of its privileges, and dissatisfied with having them set aside by the king to further his own interest, imprisoned in the Conciergerie such Jews as had been guilty of exacting compound interest. In return for another subsidy the king delivered the Jews once again from persecution in 1394 ("Ordonnances," vii. 643). Then, according to the chronicler of St. Denis, an incident occurred that brought matters to a crisis. The Jews of Paris were accused of having induced Denis Machault of Ville-Parisis, who had accepted baptism, to return to Judaism. The case was tried before the provost of Paris, assisted by various lawyers and theologians, and seven Jews who had been arrested were condemned to be burned at the stake. But the Parliament changed this sentence, ordering that the Jews should be publicly flogged on three successive Saturdays, and should then be banished, and that their property should be confiscated (Félibien-Lobineau, "Hist. de Paris; Pièces Justificative," iv. 546; Joannes Galli, in "Sauval," ii. 524).Expulsion.
On Sept. 17, 1394, Charles VI. suddenly published an ordinance in which he declared, in substance, that for a long time he had been taking note of the many complaints provoked by the excesses and misdemeanors which the Jews committed against Christians; and that the prosecutors, having made several investigations, had discovered many violations by the Jews of the agreement they had made with him. Therefore he decreed as an irrevocable law and statute that thenceforth no Jew should dwell in his domains ("Ordonnances," vii. 675). According to the "Réligieux de St. Denis," the king signed this decree at the instance of the queen ("Chron. de Charles VI." ii. 119). The decreewas not immediately enforced, a respite being granted to the Jews in order that they might sell their property and pay their debts. Those indebted to them were enjoined to redeem their obligations within a set time; otherwise their pledges held in pawn were to be sold by the Jews. The provost was to escort the Jews to the frontier of the kingdom. Subsequently the king released the Christians from their debts.Levi b. Gershon.
The banishment of the Jews from Languedoc and Languedoil put an end to a condition that had long been precarious, and the number of them that went into exile was probably not large. No references to this exodus have been preserved in Jewish literature, yet many traces exist to show the decline of Judaism during the thirty-six years that elapsed between their return and their expulsion. At the time of the return there were not more than five or six Talmudists within the limits of old France. Mattithiah b. Joseph Trèves, who was acknowledged as rabbi by Charles V. and as such exempted from wearing the circular badge ("Responsa of Isaac b. Sheshet," pp. 270-272; "Ordonnances," v. 498), endeavored to found a school in Paris, but trained only eight rabbis. On his death his son Johanan was called upon to resist the claims of a competitor, Isaiah b. Abba Mari (Astruc of Savoy), who, with the approbation of Meïr b. Baruch ha-Levi of Vienna, claimed the sole right of ordaining rabbis in France. Johanan was obliged to apply to the Spanish rabbis, Ḥasdai Crescas, Isaac b. Sheshet, and Moses Halawa, for aid in maintaining his rights, for at that time Languedoc had neither scholars nor rabbis of authority, and writers were found only in the Comtat Venaissin, in Provence proper, and in Roumillon. Nevertheless, Jewish science and literaturecontinued to prosper in Provence during the first half of the fourteenth century. The ban that had been laid upon scientific studies had stimulated, instead of arrested, their progress. Rationalism was never more potent, and philosophy was never more eagerly listened to. Levi b. Gershon (RaLBaG) was a Peripatetic who had attended the school of Averroes, and, as Munk has pointed out ("Mélanges," p. 497), was the most daring of Jewish philosophers—he even admitted the eternity of the world. Few scholars of the Middle Ages had such encyclopedic learning; he wrote commentaries to most of the works of Averroes, and at the same time to the Bible; he wrote on theology, into which he introduced astronomy; he invented an instrument for observation—the "staff of Levi." At the request of Philip of Vitry he composed a treatise on harmony; he was the author of works on arithmetic, trigonometry, algebra, and geometry; he was known for his medical skill; and at the same time he gained the respect of rabbinical authorities by his knowledge of the Talmud. His Biblical exegesis is remarkable, being largely philosophical and ethical. The stories of the Bible he regards as lessons which he loves to cite and develop. Ecclesiastes is a statement of various propositions from among which the reader has the right to make his choice.Narboni, Kalonymus, and Others.
Moses Narboni of Perpignan was hardly less daring in his conclusions; he also explained philosophically the ethical treatises of the Bible, commented on Averroes, wrote on philosophy, theology, medicine, and the exact sciences; but he veiled his thoughts more skilfully, and selected the commentary as his vehicle for expressing them. Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, who lived somewhat earlier than these two scholars, was also one of the representatives of Jewish civilization in southern France. His relations with King Robert of Naples are well known. He continued the work of translation, and turned into Hebrew many scientific works written in Arabic, including works on medicine, geometry, mathematics, cosmography, astronomy, and various commentaries to Averroes. He wrote also many original works on philosophy and arithmetic. But among Jews he is most famous for his satirical treatise on morals, in which he derided the vices not only of the world in general, but also of the mystics, astrologers, grammarians, poets, and Talmudists; and for his parody on the treatise Megillah, in which he reviewed all the eccentricities of mankind. Averroes was then in vogue, and his commentaries were often translated, as by Moses of Beaucaire, Kalonymus b. David b. Todros of Arles, Samuel b. Judah, or Miles of Marseilles (who was imprisoned at Beaucaire in 1322 in connection with the affair of the lepers), and the prolific translator Todros Todrosi. A number of others translated Ghazzali and Arnault of Villeneuve. Joseph b. Abba Mari, Don Bonafoux of Argentière (1279-1340), was one of the most prolific writers of the time, a thinker of moderate views, opposed to the exaggerations of the school of allegory, but a firm supporter of science. His commentaries to the Bible, his treatises on grammar and lexicography, his philosophic notes to the Scriptures, his interpretation of the "Moreh" are clear and often apt, without pretending at originality.
To the same school belong David of Roquemartine, Abba Mari b. Eligdor, Sen Astruc of Noves, David of Estella—all disciples of Maimonides. Remembering the controversies of 1303-06, they did not touch upon the burning questions of Biblical history or legislation, but dealt rather with the Wisdom series—Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes—which lend themselves more easily to philosophic speculations.
Nor was there a lack of scientists; such were the physicians Abraham Caslari; Isaac Lattes, who was also a theologian and Talmudist; Immanuel b. Jacob of Tarascon, called "Bonfils," a mathematician and astronomer, author of the treatise "Shesh Kenafayim" on conjunctions and eclipses, and the translator of a story of Alexander; Isaac b. Todros, the hygienist; and Jacob Bonet, son of David Bonform, the astronomer.
There were, however, fewer Talmudists. The most famous, such as Aaron b. Jacob ha-Kohen of Narbonne, the author of the ritual collection "Orḥot Ḥayyim," and Jeruham, the author of a similar work, "Toledot Adam we-Ḥawah," left France in 1306. Among those who remained—not in the territory of the king, but in the neighboring provinces—were Simson b. Isaac of Chinon, the author of the "Sefer Keritut," an introduction to the Talmud, and Isaac b. Mordecai Ḳimḥi, or Petit of Nyons. It should be noted that all these authors either wrote before the expulsion of 1322 or did not live in France proper. The country beyond the Rhône and the Pyrenean provinces that had not yet been incorporated with France were the refuge of Jewish science and of its last French representatives. And soon the Comtat Venaissin, which formed part of the Pontifical States, was to be their last shelter; for the Jews were expelled in succession from every new province acquired by the French crown. See the articles Brittany; Champagne; Dauphiné; Provence; Savoy.
- Aronius, Regesten;
- Bédarride, Les Juifs en-France, en Italie et en Espagne, Paris, 1867;
- Bégin, Histoire des Juifs dans le Nord-Est de la France, in Revue Orientale, vols. i. and ii.;
- Beugnot, Les Juifs d'Occident, ou Recherches sur l'Etat Civil, le Commcrce et la Littérature des Juifs en France, en Espagne et en Italie, Paris, 1824;
- De Boissi, Dissertations pour Servir à l'Histoire des Juifs, Paris, 1785;
- Bouquet (Dom Martin), Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de la France, 23 vols., Paris, 1738;
- Carmoly, Biographie des Israélites de France, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1868;
- Depping, Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age, Paris, 1834;
- Geiger, Parschandatha, Die Nordfranzösische Exegetenschule, Leipsic, 1855;
- Grätz, Gesch.;
- Gross, Gallia Judaica, Paris, 1897;
- Güdemann, Gesch. i., Vienna, 1880;
- Ordonnances des Rois de France de la Troisième Race, Paris, 1723-1849;
- Pertz, Monumenta Germaniæ Historica, 1826-74;
- Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, Paris, 1877;
- Labbè, Collectio Conciliorum, Paris, 1671;
- Renan-Neubauer, Les Ecrivains Juifs Français, Paris, 1893;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. Berlin, 1893;
- Vaissette (Dom), Histoire Générale de Languedoc;
- Weiss, Dor;
- Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, vols, ii. and iii., Treves, 1893-96;
- Zunz, Literaturgesch. Berlin, 1855;
- idem, Z. G. Berlin. 1845.
The edict of banishment of Charles VI. was enforced with the utmost severity. Nobles whose interests were injured by the expulsion were nevertheless compelled to obey the order. The Duke of Foix, who was favorably inclined toward the Jewish community of Pamiers, endeavored, though unsuccessfully,to maintain them in the duchy. An exception was made in the case of Dauphiné, because in ceding this province to Charles VI. Count Louis II. of Poitiers expressly stipulated that the Jews should be allowed to continue there and to retain their accustomed privileges. The Jews of Dauphiné remained undisturbed until the end of the sixteenth century, when the edict of expulsion was extended to that province also. However, most of them had emigrated before Louis XI. (1461-83) had been long on the throne; for, charging them with excessive usury and with dealings with his enemies while he was in Flanders, he had imposed upon them a fine too heavy for them to pay.
Seventeen years after the annexation of Provence (1481) an edict of banishment was issued against the Jews of that province. This edict, which probably had not been carried out with extreme severity, was renewed by Louis XII. in 1501. After this date, with the exception of Marseilles, where they succeeded in maintaining themselves until 1758, there were no Jews in Provence. Portuguese and Spanish Maranos indeed settled in the sixteenth century at Bordeaux, Bayonne, and in some other localities; but they were tolerated only as "new-Christians"; they began to profess Judaism openly only after 1730.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century Jews began again to penetrate into France. This necessitated a new edict (April 23, 1615), in which Louis XIII. forbade Christians, under the penalty of death and confiscation, to shelter Jews or to converse with them. The Regency was no less severe. In 1683 Louis XIV. expelled the Jews from the newly acquired colony of Martinique. In annexing Alsace and Lorraine, Louis was at first inclined toward the banishment of the Jews living in those provinces, but thought better of it in view of the benefit he could derive from them; and on Sept. 25, 1675, he granted them letters patent, taking them under his special protection. This, however, did not prevent them from being subjected to every kind of extortion, and their position remained the same as it had been under the Austrian government.
While the Alsatian Jews were thus laboring under barbarous legislation, the condition of those of Comtat Venaissin (see Avignon; Carpentras; Cavaillon), which belonged to the Holy See, became unbearable. All the additional measures devised against them by the councils during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were applied to the letter in the second half of the seventeenth century and afterward.Beginnings of Emancipation.
In the course of the eighteenth century the attitude of the authorities toward the Jews was modified. A spirit of tolerance began to prevail, which corrected the iniquities of the legislation. The authorities often overlooked infractions of the edict of banishment; a colony of Portuguese and German Jews was tolerated at Paris. The voices of enlightened Christians, like Dohm, who demanded justice for the proscribed people, began to be heard. An Alsatian Jew named Cerf Berr, who had rendered great service to the French government as purveyor to the army, was the interpreter of the Jews before Louis XVI. The humane minister Malesherbes summoned a commission of Jewish notables to make suggestions for the amelioration of the condition of their coreligionists. This commission included Cerf Berr and eminent representatives of the Portuguese Jews from Bordeaux and Bayonne, like Furtado, Gradis, Isaac Rodrigues, Lopez Dubec, etc. The direct result of the efforts of these men was the abolition, in 1784, of the degrading poll-tax and the permission to settle in all parts of France. Shortly afterward the Jewish question was raised by two men of genius, who subsequently became prominent in the French Revolution—Count Mirabeau and the abbé Grégoire, the former of whom, while on a diplomatic mission in Prussia, had made the acquaintance of Mendelssohn and his school, who were then working toward the intellectual emancipation of the Jews. In a pamphlet, "Sur Moses Mendelssohn et la Reforme Politique" (London, 1787), Mirabeau refuted the arguments of the German anti-Semites like Michaelis, and claimed for the Jews the full rights of citizenship. This pamphlet naturally provoked many writings for and against the Jews, and the French public became interested in the question. On the proposition of Roederer the Royal Society of Science and Arts of Metz offered a prize for the best essay in answer to the question: "What are the best means to make the Jews happier and more useful in France?" Nine essays, of which only two were unfavorable to the Jews, were submitted to the judgment of the learned assembly. The prize was awarded jointly to three essays, written respectively by Salkind Hurwitz, a Polish Jew, interpreter at the Royal Library of Paris; Thierry, a member of Parliament for Nancy; and the abbé Grégoire. Of these three the most important for the Jews was the essay of the abbé Grégoire, because of the character of the author.Debates in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile the Revolution broke out. The fall of the Bastile was the signal for disorders everywhere in Alsace. In certain districts the peasants attacked the dwellings of the Jews, who took refuge in Basel. A gloomy picture of the outrages upon them was sketched before the National Assembly (Aug. 3) by the abbé Grégoire, who demanded their complete emancipation. The National Assembly shared the indignation of the prelate, but left undecided the question of emancipation; it was intimidated by the anti-Semitic deputies of Alsace, especially by a certain Rewbell, who declared that the decree which granted the Jews citizens' rights would be the signal for their destruction in Alsace. On Dec. 22, 1799, the Jewish question came again before the Assembly in debating the question of admitting to public service all citizens without distinction of creed. Mirabeau, Count Clermont Tannerre, and the abbé Grégoire exerted all the power of their eloquence to bring about the desired emancipation; but the repeated disturbances in Alsace and the strong opposition of the deputies of that province and of the clericals, like La Fare, Bishop of Nancy, the abbé Maury, and others, caused the decision to be again postponed. Only the Portuguese and the AvignoneseJews, who had hitherto enjoyed all civil rights as naturalized Frenchmen, were declared full citizens by a majority of 150 (Jan. 28, 1790). This partial victory infused new hope into the Jews of the German districts, who made still greater efforts in the struggle for freedom. They won over the eloquent advocate Godard, whose influence in revolutionary circles was considerable. Through his exertions the National Guards and the diverse sections pronounced themselves in favor of the Jews, and the abbé Malot was sent by the General Assembly of the Commune to plead their cause before the National Assembly. Unfortunately the grave affairs which absorbed the Assembly, the prolonged agitations in Alsace, and the passions of the clerical party kept in check the active propaganda of the Jews and their friends. A few days before the dissolution of the National Assembly (Sept. 27, 1791) a member of the Jacobin Club, formerly a parliamentary councilor, named Duport, unexpectedly ascended the tribune and said: "I believe that freedom of worship does not permit any distinction in the political rights of citizens on account of their creed. The question of the political existence of the Jews has been postponed. Still the Moslems and the men of all sects are admitted to enjoy political rights in France. I demand that the motion for postponement be withdrawn, and a decree passed that the Jews in France enjoy the privileges of full citizens." This proposition was accepted amid loud applause. Rewbell endeavored, indeed, to oppose the motion, but he was interrupted by Regnault de Saint-Jean, president of the Assembly, who suggested "that every one who spoke against this motion should be called to order, because he would be opposing the constitution itself."During the Reign of Terror.
Judaism in France thus became, as the Alsatian deputy Schwendt wrote to his constituents, "nothing more than the name of a distinct religion." However, the reactionaries did not cease their agitations, and the Jews were subjected to much suffering during the Reign of Terror. At Bordeaux Jewish bankers, compromised in the cause of the Girondins, had to pay considerable sums to save their lives; in Alsace there was scarcely a Jew of any means who was not mulcted in heavy fines. Forty-nine Jews were imprisoned at Paris as suspects; nine of them were executed. The decree of the convention by which the Catholic faith was annulled and replaced by the worship of Reason was applied by the provincial clubs, especially by those of the German districts, to the Jewish religion. Synagogues were pillaged, the celebration of Sabbath and festivals interdicted, and rabbis imprisoned. Meanwhile the French Jews gave proofs of their patriotism and of their gratitude to the land which had emancipated them. Many of them fell on the field of honor in combating in the ranks of the Army of the Republic the forces of Europe in coalition. To contribute to the war fund candelabra of synagogues were sold, and many Jews deprived themselves of their jewels to make similar contributions.Attitude of Napoleon.
An attempt to destroy the good work of the Revolution with regard to the Jews was made under Napoleon, who was himself not very favorably inclined toward them. The reactionaries Bonald, Fontanes, Molé, and others led a campaign against them, and a pretext for curtailing their rights was easily found. Charges of excessive usury were brought before Napoleon while, on his return from Austerlitz (1806), he was at Strasburg, where the deep-rooted prejudices against the Jews were still active. He then charged the state council with the revision of the existing legislation concerning the Jews. The majority of the members of this body was not, however, inclined to enact restrictive laws against all the Jews because of the misdeeds of some usurers. Influential persons, among whom was the minister of the interior, Champagny, endeavored to bring Napoleon to a better opinion of the Jews. They called to his attention how quickly they had become proficient in the arts and sciences, in agriculture and handicrafts. Persons were mentioned who had been decorated with the Order of the Legion of Honor for courage in war. But Napoleon, on May 30, 1806, issued a decree by which he suspended for a year the execution of the judgments rendered in favor of Jewish money-lenders in Alsace and in the Rhenish provinces. By the same decree he summoned an assembly of Jewish notables, ostensibly to devise means whereby useful occupations might be made more general among the Jews, but in reality to question the representatives of the Jews concerning the moral character of the Mosaic law. Among the 111 notables chosen, somewhat arbitrarily, by the prefects, were well-known men like Berr Isaac Berr, his son Michel Berr, Abraham Furtado, Sinzheim, Abraham Vita di Cologna, and many others, who were fully aware that they were called to defend Judaism before the world. From the first sitting (Saturday, July 26, 1806), presided over by Abraham Furtado, they disarmed the ill will of Napoleon by their tact and manifestation of patriotism. Although advocating various religious opinions, harmony did not cease to reign between the members, and they were unanimous in their answers to the twelve questions put before them by the commissioner of the government, the reactionary Molé (see Sanhedrin, French). The chief point of the question was whether the Jewish civil and matrimonial laws, the prescriptions concerning the relations between Jews and non-Jews, and the regulations in regard to usury were in accordance with the spirit of modern times.The Sanhedrin.
On Sept. 18, 1806, the commissioner Molé announced to the Assembly that the emperor was satisfied with the answers and that he intended, in order to give a religious sanction to the principles expressed therein, to call together a Sanhedrin. Like the Sanhedrin of old, this Sanhedrin was to be composed of seventy-one members, two-thirds rabbis and one-third laymen, having at their head one president and two vice-presidents.The Consistories.
On Feb. 9, 1807, four days after the dissolution of the Assembly of Notables, the Sanhedrin, under the presidency of David Sinzheim, held its first meeting in a hall of the Hôtel de Ville, especially decorated for the occasion. The answers of the Assembly of Notables were the main subject of its discussions. After several sittings they were all approved anddrawn up in French and in Hebrew. Thenceforth the principles laid down by the Assembly of Notables were to have legal force for all the Jews of the French empire. But who was to see to the enforcement of these decisions? Hitherto the Jewish inhabitants of every town formed a separate community which had its own administration, without any connection with the government. Napoleon therefore, in consonance with his general centralizing tendencies, conceived the idea of organizing the Jewish community on a legal basis, and of placing corporate bodies and hierarchical functionaries at its head. By a decree issued from Madrid on March 17, 1808, he instituted the system of consistories which is still in force in France. The spirit by which the emperor was guided in this is seen in the formula of oaths which the members of the first consistories had to take: "I vow and promise before God, on the Holy Bible, to show obedience to the constitutions of the empire and loyalty to the emperor. I promise also to make known anything that I may hear contrary to the interests of the sovereign or of the state." By another decree the Jews were invited to adopt family names. They were not allowed, however, to take names of towns or Biblical names. These decrees, gratifying as they were to the Jews, were unfortunately followed by another, of the same date, which restricted for ten years their commercial freedom. According to the terms of this last decree no foreign Jew was allowed to settle in the German departments, nor one from those departments in any other district. No French Jew was to engage in any trade without the permission of the prefect, which permission was to be granted only on the testimony of the civil magistrates and the consistory as to the good character of the applicant. Contracts of Jews who could not show a patent were to be null and void. No Jew drafted into the army was to be allowed to procure a substitute. Owing to the numerous complaints made by the Jews and to the favorable reports of the authorities, however, exemption from these restrictions was shortly afterward granted to the Jews of Paris, of Leghorn, of the department of the Lower Pyrenees, and of fifteen other districts in France and Italy. At the end of the ten years the restrictions were not renewed, despite the efforts of certain enemies of the Jews.After the Restoration.
The restoration of Louis XVIII. did not bring any change in the political condition of the Jews. Such of their enemies as cherished the hope that the Bourbons would hasten to undo the good work of the Revolution with regard to the Jews were soon disappointed. Since the emancipation the French Jews had made such progress that the most clerical monarch could not find any pretext for curtailing their rights as citizens. They were no longer poor, downtrodden pedlers or money-lenders, with whom every petty official could do as he liked. Many of them already occupied high positions in the army and the magistracy, and in the arts and sciences. And a new victory was won by French Judaism in 1831.State Recognition.
Of the faiths recognized by the state, only the Jewish had to support its ministers, while those of the Catholic and Protestant churches were supported by the government. This legal inferiority was removed in that year, thanks to the intervention of the Duke of Orleans, lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and to the campaign led in Parliament by the deputies Rambuteau and Viennet. Encouraged by these prominent men, the minister of education, on Nov. 13, 1830, offered a motion to place Judaism upon an equal footing with Catholicism and Protestantism as regards support for the synagogues and for the rabbis from the public treasury. The motion was accompanied by flattering compliments to the French Jews, "who," said the minister, "since the removal of their disabilities by the Revolution, have shown themselves worthy of the privileges granted them." After a short discussion the motion was adopted by a large majority. In January, 1831, it passed in the Chamber of Peers by 89 votes to 57, and on Feb. 8 it was ratified by King Louis Philip, who from the beginning had shown himself favorable to placing Judaism on an equal footing with the other faiths. Shortly afterward the rabbinical college, which had been founded at Metz in 1829, was recognized as a state institution, and was granted a subsidy. The government likewise liquidated the debts contracted by various Jewish communities before the Revolution.Assimilation.
Strangely enough, while the Jews had been thus placed in every point the equals of their Christian fellow citizens, the oath "More Judaico" still continued to be administered to them, in spite of the repeated protestations of the rabbis and the consistory. It was only in 1846, owing to a brilliant speech of the Jewish advocate Adolphe Crémieux, pronounced before the Court of Nimes in defense of a rabbi who had refused to take this oath, and to a valuable essay on the subject by a prominent Christian advocate of Strasburg, named Martin, that the supreme court (Cour de Cassation) removed this last remnant of the legislation of the Middle Ages. With this act of justice the history of the Jews of France merges into the general history of the French people. The rapidity with which many of them won affluence and distinction in the nineteenth century is without parallel. In spite of the deep-rooted prejudices which prevail in certain classes of French society, many of them occupy high positions in literature, art, science, jurisprudence, the army—indeed, in every walk of life. Among them there were men whose fame extended beyond the boundaries of their own country, as, for instance, Adolphe Crémienx, Fould, Goudchaux, and Raynal, in politics; Fromenthal Halévy, Samuel David, Jonas Waldteufel, Léonce Cohen, and Ernest Cahen, in music; Solomon Munk, Joseph and Hartwig Derenbourg, Michel Bréal, Jules Oppert, H. Weill, Solomon and Théodore Reinach, Arsène and James Darmesteter, and Joseph Halévy, in classical philology and Oriental languages and literatures; M. Loewy, Albert Levy, and Gabriel Lippmann, in astronomy and science; Bédarrides, A. Bloch, and Lyon-Caen, in jurisprudence; Georges Hayem and Germain Sée, in medicine; Adolphe Franck and H. L. Bergson, in philosophy; Emile Soldi, Emmanuel Hannaux, and Z. Astruc,in sculpture; Emile Lévy, Jules Worms, E. Brandon, Edouard Lièvre, Alphonse Hirsch, and Fribourg, in painting; Joseph Hirsch, Maurice Levy, and L. Bachman, in engineering; Albert Wolff, Blowitz, Joseph Reinach, Arthur Meyer, Catulle Mendès, Henri Avenel, and Henri Michel, in literature and journalism; Ad. d'Ennery, Abraham Dreyfus, Ernest Blum, Hector Crémieux, Albin Valabrègue, and Eugène Manuel, in drama; Rachel, Amélie Hirsch, Rosine Bloch, Worms, and Berr as actors and actresses.
In the last decade of the nineteenth century the reactionaries, having failed in every attempt to overthrow the republic, had recourse to anti-Semitism, by means of which they maintained a persistent agitation for over ten years. The Jews were charged with the ruin of the country and with all the crimes which the fertile imagination of a Drumont or a Viau could invent; and as the accused often disdained to answer such slanderous attacks, the charges were believed by a great number of people to be true. A campaign was started against Jewish army officers, which culminated in the celebrated Dreyfus Case. This unhappy affair, which brought France to the brink of ruin, opened the eyes of the Republicans to the plans of the reactionists; and the heyday of anti-Semitism in France is now fast disappearing.
In compliance with the decree of March 17, 1808, the Jewish population of France was divided into seven consistories, which contained a total of 46,160 inhabitants. Of this number 16,155 belonged to the department of the Lower Rhine, 10,000 to that of the Upper Rhine, and 20,005 to the rest of France. The seats of the consistories were: Paris, Strasburg, Wintzenheim (later Colmar), Metz, Nancy, Bordeaux, and Marseilles. With the increase of the Jewish population new consistories were established at Lyons (1857) and at Bayonne (1859). In 1845 three consistories were established in Algeria. Through the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, French Judaism lost the three most populous consistories of Alsace and Lorraine; but, owing to the great number of Jews who retained French nationality and emigrated from those provinces to France, they were replaced by three new ones established at Vesoul, Lille, and Besançon. At present (1903) the twelve consistories comprise 89 Jewish congregations, divided among 33 rabbis, with a total population of about 100,000 persons, of whom about 60,000 live in Paris.Mode of Consistorial Election.
Since the establishment of the consistories the method of recruiting their members has undergone many changes. At first they were chosen by the civil authorities of the various departments; in 1844 the right of election was extended to the various municipal and state functionaries; finally, a law was passed in 1846 by virtue of which every Jew who had attained the age of twenty-five was placed on the list of electors. In every congregation there exists an administrative committee or synagogue administration, consisting of five or six members elected either by the consistory, as is the case in the district of Paris, or by the suffrages of the congregation.
According to the terms of the decree of 1808, rabbis may be appointed only to congregations numbering at least 200 members. Where several congregations in separate towns do not possess the number of Jewish inhabitants required by law, they may join together for the purpose, and the seat of the rabbi is fixed in the most important communities. Since 1872 the election of rabbis is confided to the departmental consistories, which are assisted by a certain number of delegates from the various congregations. When the choice is made the name of the candidate is sent to the Central Consistory of Paris. The latter body, after confirming the selection, submits it to the government for final ratification. At the head of each departmental consistory stands the departmental chief rabbi. The supreme chief of the rabbinical hierarchy of France is the rabbi of the Central Consistory of Paris (Le Grand Rabbin du Consistoire Central des Israélites de France), who is elected by a college composed of the twelve members of the Central Consistory and two delegates chosen by universal suffrage from each of the twelve departmental consistories. This office has been held in succession by the following: Segré D. Sinzheim, Abraham Vita di Cologna, Emmanuel Deutz, Marchand Ennery, Ulmann, Isidor, and the present (1903) Rabbi Zadoc Kahn.Reform in France.
The Reform movement, which between 1830 and 1840 divided German Judaism into two hostile camps, found but a feeble echo in France. The attempts at Reform made by O. Terquem, who in a series of pamphlets, called "Lettres Zarfatiques," attacked all religious institutions and traditions, failed to produce any effect. This is due partly to the indifference of the French public to logical discussion and partly to the spirit of toleration which is innate in the most devout in France. However, Jewish ritual ceremonies and prayers have been given a more modern form. As early as 1831 the Central Consistory had prohibited the preaching of sermons in any other language than French. In 1856 Ulmann summoned to Paris all the rabbis of the consistories to discuss the reorganization of the ritual for French Judaism. Among the innovations introduced by this assembly the most noteworthy are: the permission to employ the organ in the synagogue; the bringing of new-born children to the synagogue to receive the benediction of the rabbi; the religious initiation; the covering of coffins with flowers, the placing of hangings at the entry of the mortuary, and the employment of more luxurious hearses; the adoption of an official dress for rabbis resembling that of the Catholic priest, with the slight difference that the band is of white. Besides these innovations the assembly revised the prayer-book and suppressed some of the prayers.
- Grätz, Gesch. xi., passim;
- Jost, Neuere Geschichte, passim;
- Théodore Relnach, Histoire des Israélites, pp. 305 et seq.;
- Abraham Cahen, Les Juifs dans les Colonies au XVIII Siècle, in Rev. Et. Juives, iv. 127, 236; v. 68, 258;
- Léon Bardinet, Antiquité et Organisation des Juiveries du Comtat Venaissin, i. 262, vi. 1, vii. 139;
- Brunschwicg, Les Juifs de Nantes et du Pays Nantais, xiv. 80, xvii. 125, xix. 294;
- Debré, in Jew. Quart. Review, iii. 366 et seq.;
- Bédarride, Les Juifs en France, en Italie et en Espagne, pp. 352 et seq.;
- Léon Kahn, Les Juifs à Paris Depuis le VI Siècle, passim;
- idem, Les Juifs de Paris Pendant la Révolution, passim;
- idem, Les Juifs de Paris sous Louis XV passim;
- Lucien Brun, La Condition des Juifs en France Depuis 1789;
- Breslau, Les Juifs en France, in Arch. Isr. xiv. 117.