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FRÄNKEL, ELKAN:

Court Jew (1703-12) to the margrave William Frederic of Brandenburg-Ansbach; died in the state prison of Wülzburg, near Weissenburg on the Sand, in 1720. His family was among the exiles of Vienna in 1670, his father being R. Enoch Levy, his mother a daughter of the wealthy Koppel Ritschel in Vienna. Elkan is first mentioned in 1686 as a member of the Jewish community of Fürth. There he took charge of the financial interests of the Margrave of Ansbach, who had a part of the Fürth Jews under his protection; he was appointed by the margrave parnas of Fürth in 1704, and chief parnas of Ansbach in 1710. Fränkel acquired great influence at court; hisadvice was asked in important political affairs, and he helped many to secure official positions.

The Jews of the margravate had every reason to be grateful to him; they owed to him, for example, the remission of a heavy fine which had been imposed upon them after an official investigation into their practise of usury (1708). He also boasted of having prevented a contemplated confiscation of Hebrew books (1702). His enemies later on made use of this assertion to complete his ruin; for he was much hated by Jews and Christians for his haughty demeanor. In 1712 Fränkel was denounced by a converted Jew for being in possession of blasphemous books, for making use of his influence at court for encroaching upon all branches of political life, and for having defrauded the public revenues. The investigation conducted on behalf of the government by a personal enemy of Fränkel was most partial; all these accusations were declared to be true, although no proofs were adduced, and even the pretended deficit could not be detected.

The margrave did nothing to protect his favorite, but sentenced him to be scourged in the market-place and to be imprisoned for life. He died in prison, as stated above; his fortune was confiscated, and his family expelled.

Bibliography:
  • Hänle, Gesch. der Juden im Ehemaligen Fürstenthum Ansbach, Ansbach, 1867;
  • Ziemlich, Eine Bücherconfiscation zu Fürth im Jahre 1702, in Kaufmann Gedenkbuch, p. 457.
D. A. Fe.
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