CARINTHIA (German, Kärnten or Kärnthen):

A crownland of Austria. It has but a small number of Jews, whose ancestors, with the Jews of the neighboring crownlands, Carniola (Krain) and Styria (Steiermark), shared the vicissitudes of their brethren in the Austrian empire. The first settlement of Jews in these countries took place at the end of the eleventh and during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as is proved by documents in which occur such names as "Judenburg," "Judendorf," and "Judenanger." At first compelled to dwell in hamlets and villages, they were allowed, in the course of the fourteenth century, for financial and commercial reasons, to inhabit cities.

Pedigree of the Cardozo Family.

The development of the legal status of the Jews of Carinthia and Styria up to the year 1496 resembled that of the Jews of Austria generally. The privileges granted by Duke Friedrich July 1, 1244, and by King Ottocar I. March 29, 1254, forming and regulating the laws governing the Jews of Austria proper, were extended to Carinthia, when, in 1335, it came into the possession of the house of Hapsburg. In civil affairs the Jews had their own jurisdiction. Their judge ("Judenmeister") decided all cases among Jews, and was the intermediary between them and the government, especially in regard to taxes and other state matters.

An edict ("Handfeste") concerning the "right, liberty, grace, and good habits" of the Jews of Carinthia and Styria, issued by the dukes Albrecht III. and Leopold III. at Vienna, June 24, 1377, was renewed and confirmed Oct. 23, 1396, by Duke Wilhelm "after good consideration and advice of our counselors." Neither the originals nor copies of these documents being extant, their detailed contents are not known. Presumably, the Jews, having been in 1370 the victims of persecutions and spoliations, solicited the renewal of these edicts, which restored to them their former rights and freedom.


In those parts of Carinthia not belonging to the house of Hapsburg the legal status of the Jews wasbased upon special privileges. Thus, Duke Heinrich of Carinthia granted his protection to the Jew Höschlein and his heirs, and secured to them all the rights enjoyed by the other Jews in Austria and Styria (Jan. 20, 1328). He also promised them his aid in collecting their outstanding debts and claims in Carinthia and elsewhere. In return they were required to pay him annually 30 marks in silver.

The laws regulating the condition of the Austrian Jews were also in force in those districts that were included in the territory of Carinthia and that belonged to the archbishop of Salzburg, the bishop of Bamberg, the counts of Görz and Ortenburg, and others. The Church in Inner Austria was never hostile to the Jews. Although the statutes of the Salzburg provincial councils of 1267 and 1418 directed against the Jews applied also to Carinthia and Styria, they were never enforced there; and the clergy had frequent commercial dealings with the Jews.

As creditors of the burghers and the peasants, of the nobility and the clergy, the Jews through their wealth gained great influence in times when money was scarce. Money-lending being the only business in which they were allowed to engage, and having no guaranty of repayment of their loans, they were compelled to exact a high rate of interest, and thus they incurred the hatred of the people. In those days of ignorance and superstition the Jews were also accused of maliciously desecrating the host and of ritual murder. Violent persecutions in 1310, 1338, and 1397 were the consequence.


Jewish taxes in Inner Austria are recorded in the "Rationalia" (Rent-Books) of the Austrian dukes in the years 1326-38. Under Friedrich III. the Jews of these countries annually paid 6,000 florins. In 1470 a personal tax of 4,000 florins and in 1478 one of 3,000 florins were imposed upon them. A special tax paid in 1446 was a contribution toward the dowry of Princess Katharina, sister of Friedrich III.

The agitations in the cities against the privileges of the Jews resulted in several edicts limiting their commercial and judicial rights. An ordinance of Duke Wilhelm (March 17, 1396) prescribed that all bills of credit given by Christians to Jews must be sealed by both the city or market judge and the Jewish judge.

Opposition of the Estates.

About the middle of the fifteenth century a hostile movement also began to manifest itself among the provincial legislatures ("Landstände"); and the Jewish question, heretofore considered but a local affair, now became the concern of the country at large. Complaints against the Jews were the constant subject of proceedings in the provincial diets, and they ended in the expulsion of the Jews. From St. Veit, Carinthia, Emperor Friedrich III. issued a decree (Jan. 5, 1444), article 17 of which is to the effect that any Jew possessing a bill of credit given by one Christian to another and transferred to him (the Jew), must sue for recovery in the court to which the Christian creditor resorts, and not in a court of his own choice. Article 16 ordains that without the consent of his feudal master a peasant may neither sell his estate nor give a bill of credit to a Jew.

On July 8, 1491, Friedrich III. ordained that, "for better control and security," all debt-claims of the Jews should be entered in a special book known as the "Judenbuch," and that bills of credit not so entered should have no validity. To restrain usury, the same ordinance greatly reduced the rate of interest, and prohibited the charging of compound interest.

In consequence of these lengthy transactions with Friedrich III. the provincial diets came to the conclusion that only expulsion could definitely solve the Jewish question, but that this emperor would never sanction such a measure. His son and successor, Maximilian I., however, yielded to their demand. After preliminary transactions at the diets held at Marburg in April and Nov., 1494, and at Gratz in Aug., 1495, the emperor accepted the offer of 38,000 florins from Styria and one of 4,000 florins from Carinthia, to indemnify him for the loss of Jewish contributions to his treasury, and ordered the expulsion of the Jews "on account of their misdeeds." In March, 1496, he issued from Schwäbisch-Werda a decree according to which the Jews, "for having repeatedly insulted and desecrated the holy sacrament, tortured and killed Christian children and used their blood for hidden, damnable purposes, and with falsified letters, seals, and otherwise having cheated people, and impoverished and ruined many noble and other families," were required within six months to leave Carinthia and to withdraw from Styria by the following Epiphany (Jan. 6). What the Christians "honestly owe" to the Jews, they are to pay, up to Aug. 24, 1496; failing to do so, their property is to be given into the hands of the messenger of the court, Virgil Haffner, who shall sell the same, pay the debt to the Jews, and return the remainder to the debtor. The real estate of the Jews became the property of the king.

Various Communities.

A considerable number of Jews lived at Villach, the center of commerce in Carinthia, situated within the territory of the bishop of Bamberg. They had there a synagogue and a cemetery near the village Judendorf. Persecutions took place in 1338 at Wolfsberg; and in the fatal year 1349 they extended to the Carinthian possessions of the archbishop of Salzburg, as is indicated in the treaty of peace made at Friesach Nov. 14, 1349, in which Archbishop Ortolf declares that "he will not meddle with the affairs of the Jews." Probably also Salzburg Jews were injured or slain in these tumults in the Bamberg territory.

But during the period following, the bishops of Bamberg vigorously protected their Jewish subjects. On Feb. 12, 1368, Bishop Ludwig made an agreement with the dukes Albrecht III. and Leopold III., according to which the ducal governor of Carinthia was to aid the subjects of the bishop, be they Christians or Jews, in obtaining satisfaction from their debtors. The same stipulation was made in the agreement of Feb. 3, 1436, between Duke Friedrich and Bishop Anton of Bamberg.

These favorable conditions continued during the fifteenth century, until the Jews, accused of havingkilled Simon of Trent, were also expelled from the districts of Bamberg under Bishop Philipp von Henneberg in 1478. It seems that this decree of banishment was not strictly carried out; since it was frequently republished, in 1535, 1565, 1566, 1585, 1593, 1687, 1699, 1700, 1711, 1712, 1713, and 1748.

Jews settled in the district of Salzburg in the thirteenth century. From a brevet of Archbishop Ortolf von Weisseneck dated June 25, 1346, it is known that upon payment of a considerable annual tax they enjoyed the privilege of owning houses, and the right of free movement and commerce. In Friesach they had a synagogue. In 1498 these Jews were expelled, being forced to sign a declaration that they would never return. After having paid their debts, they were allowed to take their goods with them; but they had to surrender the pledges in their hands.

Jews passing through the countries from which they had been driven were strictly watched; only a temporary sojourn in certain market-towns being allowed, and then the payment of a personal tax was required.


For almost three centuries the decree of banishment remained in force. When Emperor Joseph II. proclaimed the Act of Toleration May 16, 1781, the Styrian deputies remonstrated against it, whereupon the emperor gave this decision: "Since, according to the provincial privileges, Jews neither exist nor are tolerated in this country at the present time, there is no question of the admission or toleration of the Jewry in this country." Nevertheless a patent of Sept. 9, 1783, set forth that "natives and foreigners, Christians as well as those of another religion, may visit the annual markets at Gratz, Klagenfurth, Laibach, and Linz." On the other hand, by circulars of Oct. 20, 1784, and of June 4, 1787, Jews were prohibited from "entering the country, trading from house to house, buying old silver and other things." These prohibitions were republished with the gubernatorial ordinances of 1823 and 1828.

The imperial patent of March 4, 1849, about the political rights granted by the constitution, gave to the Carinthian Jews social and legal equality; but they were not allowed to own real estate until the constitution of Dec., 1867, removed this last vestige of intolerance.

According to the census of 1890 the total number of Jews in Carinthian towns was 179, divided as follows:

Klagenfurth and environs122
St. Veit5

They, together with the Jews of Styria and Carinola, belong officially to the Israelitish congregation of Gratz.

  • Mischer and Ulbrich, Oesterreichisches Staatswörterbuch;
  • I. E. Scherer, Rechtsverhältnisse der Juden in den Deutsch-Oesterreichischen Ländern, 1901, pp. 455-517.
E. C. S. Man.
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