|Antisemitism: An Assault on Human Rights|
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Antisemitism: An Assault on Human RightsSupplement Contents 1
A prevailing theme of the attached paper is that Jews throughout history have been perceived of and treated as a perpetual outsider and a danger to the societies in which they live. While the intensity of antisemitism has at times subsided, history teaches that it always returns as well. One compelling proof of the Jew’s pariah status throughout history is offered by official antisemitic state policies, which entrench discrimination and foster prejudice. What follows, in chronological order, is a sampling of antisemitic laws edicts, legal decisions, papal rulings, and other examples of state policy that have been promulgated over the last 2,000 years. They demonstrate the persistence of official antisemitism throughout the world and the need for efforts to eradicate it.
(completed 438 under Emperor Theodosius II)
The Theodosian Code was a sixteen-volume work that contained the imperial edicts of Christian emperors from Constantine (early 4th century) to Theodosius II. Some sections of laws within the Code are excerpted here.
Laws of Constantine the Great (October 18, 315)
We wish to make it known to the Jew and their elders and their patriarchs that if, after the enactment of this law, any one of them dares to attack with stones or some other manifestation of anger on another who has fled their dangerous sect and attached himself to the worship of God [Christianity], he must speedily be given to the flames and burned together with all his accomplices.
Moreover, if any one of the populations should join their abominable sect and attend their meetings, he will bear with them the deserved penalties.
Laws of Constantius (August 13, 339)
This pertains to women, who live in our weaving factories and whom Jews, in their foulness, take in marriage. It is decreed that these women are to be restored to the weaving factories. This prohibition [of intermarriage] is to be preserved for the future lest the Jews induce Christian women to share their shameful lives. If they do this they will subject themselves to a sentence of death.
A law of Theodosius II (January 31, 438)
No Jew—or no Samaritan who subscribes to neither [the Jewish nor the Christian] religion- shall obtain offices and dignities; to none shall the administration of city service be permitted; nor shall any one exercise the office of a defender of the city. Indeed, we believe it sinful that the enemies of the heavenly majesty and of the Roman laws should become the executors of our laws.... We forbid that any synagogue shall rise as a new building. To these things we add that he who misleads a slave or a freeman against his will or by punishable advice, from the service of the Christian religion to that of an abominable sect and ritual, is to be punished by loss of property and life.
On the one hand, whoever has built a synagogue must realize that he has worked to the advantage of the Catholic Church [which will confiscate the building]; on the other hand, whoever has already secured the badge of office shall not hold the dignities he has acquired. On the contrary, he who worms himself into office must remain, as before, in the lowest rank even though he will have already earned an honorary office. And as for him who begins the building of a synagogue and is not moved by the desire of repairing it, he shall be punished by a fine of fifty pounds gold for his daring. Moreover, if he will have prevailed with his evil teachings over the faith of another, he shall see his wealth confiscated and he soon subjected to a death sentence.
Emperor Justinian’s Novella 146 (553)
Christian Emperor Justinian here banned rabbinic interpretation, demanded use of languages other than Hebrew in the synagogue, and insisted on certain articles of belief.
Preface. Necessity dictates that when the Hebrews listen to their sacred texts they should not confine themselves to the meaning of the letter, but should also devote their attention to those sacred prophecies which are hidden from them, and which announce the mighty Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Ch. I ii. But the Mishnah, or as they call it the second tradition, we prohibit entirely. For it is not part of the sacred books, nor is it handed down by divine inspiration through the prophets, but the handiwork of man, speaking only of earthly things, and having nothing of the divine in it.
Ch. II. If any among them seek to introduce impious vanities, denying the resurrection or the judgment, or the work of God, or that angels are part of creation, we require them everywhere to be expelled forthwith; that no backslider raise his impious voice to contradict the evident purpose of God. Those who utter such sentiments shall be put to death, and thereby the Jewish people shall be purged of the errors, which they introduced.
Epilogue. This is our sacred will and pleasure, and your Excellency and your present colleague and your staff shall see that it is carried out, and shall not allow the Hebrews to contravene it. Those who resist it or try to put any obstruction in its way, shall first suffer corporal punishment, and then be compelled to live in exile, forfeiting also their property, that they flaunt not their impudence against God and the empire. You shall also circulate our law to the provincial governors, that they learning its contents may enforce it in their several cities, knowing that it is to be strictly carried out under pain of our displeasure.
(completed 565 under Emperor Justinian I)
Emperor Justinian I ordered the creation of a unified collection of earlier imperial laws, to which he added his own, one of which is excerpted.
A Law of Justinian:
Since many judges, in deciding cases, have addressed us in need of our decision, asking that they be informed what ought to be done with witnesses who are heretics, whether their testimony ought to be received or rejected, we therefore ordain thantno heretic, nor even they who cherish the Jewish superstition, may offer testimony against orthodox Christians who are engaged in litigation, whether one or the other of the parties is an orthodox Christian.
Visigothic Code (Spain, 586-711)
This code of religious restrictions derives from the Catholic period on the Iberian Peninsula.
Title II. Concerning the Eradication of the Errors of all Heretics and Jews:
5. Jews shall not celebrate the Passover According to their Custom: No Jew shall celebrate the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the month, nor shall perform any of the ceremonies customary at such times. Nor shall any Jew, in honor of his ancient, erroneous belief, observe any festival days, great or small; or attempt their observance; or desist from labor upon any holidays; or hereafter keep the Sabbath, or any other sacred days prescribed by his rites, or attempt to do so. Anyone detected violating this law shall be liable to the condemnation and penalty prescribed for the same.
6. Jews shall not Contract Marriage According to their Custom: No Jew shall marry, or defile with adultery or incest, anyone nearly related to him by blood. No Jew shall marry another within the seventh degree of relationship; nor shall he desire or practice any other nuptial ceremony than that customary among Christians. Whenever detected, he shall be punished according to law.
7. Jews shall not perform the Rite of Circumcision: No Jew shall circumcise another; nor shall a person who has permitted himself to be circumcised be exempt from the operation of the law. No slave, free born person, or freedman, native or foreign, shall practice or submit to this detestable operation. Whoever is proved to have voluntarily performed, or submitted to it, shall be punished with the utmost severity of the law.
8. Jews shall not Divide their Food into Clean and Unclean, according to their Custom: The blessed apostle Paul said, "To the pure all things are pure," but nothing is pure to those who are defiled, because they are unbelievers; and, for this reason, the execrable life of the Jews and the vileness of their horrible belief, which is more foul than any other detestable error, must be destroyed and cast out. Therefore, no Jew shall make a distinction between food which is clean and unclean, as established by the customs and traditions of his ancient rites. No one shall perversely refuse to eat food of any kind, whose condition is proved to be good.... Anyone detected in the violation of this law shall be subjected to the punishment instituted for the same.
10. No Jew shall Testify Against a Christian; and Under what Circumstances the Descendants of Jews may Testify: If he who is convicted of having uttered a falsehood becomes infamous in the sight of all men, with how much more reason should he be excluded from giving testimony who denies the truth of the Divine Faith? Jews, whether baptized or unbaptized, are therefore forbidden to testify against Christians.
12. Concerning the Penalties to be Inflicted for Offences Committed by Jews: The following law is derived from others of great severity, which have been enacted to punish the perfidy of the Jews; and it is herby decreed that whoever attempts to commit any of the crimes prohibited by former laws, or contained in any amendments to the same, or presumes to act in defiance of said laws, shall be either stoned to death, or burned by such of his own countrymen as may have entered into an agreement to do so. However, if the king, in his mercy should decide to spare the life of such a criminal, he shall be delivered up as a slave to whomever the king may select, and all his property shall be given to others; and this shall be done in such a way that the culprit can never come into possession of his property again, or recover his liberty in the future.
Title III. Concerning New Laws Against the Jews, in which Old Ones are Confirmed, and New Ones are Added:
III. Jews shall not Absent themselves, or Remove their Children or Slaves, to Avoid the Blessing of Baptism: Henceforth, where any Jew of those who have not yet been baptized, or have themselves delayed their own baptism; or have, under any pretext, neglected to send their children or slaves to the priest, in order to be baptized.... and the said Jew, after the lapse of one year from the promulgation of this law, shall not have been baptized; said transgressor, whoever he may be, shall receive a hundred lashes, and having had his head shaved, shall be driven into exile. His property shall be forfeited to the king, and shall be bestowed upon whomever he may direct, as the life of said Jew has shown him to be obstinate and incorrigible.
Councils of Toledo III-XVII (Spain, 589-694)
This series of Spanish councils inaugurated the period when Spain passed from Arian Christian to Catholic control, and began detailing the laws that would govern Jews under Catholic rule for centuries.
Toledo VI (638)
Inflexibilis on safeguarding the faith of Jews:
Judaeorum Perfidia. The inflexible perfidy of the Jews seems to shake at last under piety and power from high, since it is manifest that the most excellent and most Christian prince, inspired by the supreme God and ablaze with the fire of faith, decided, together with the priests of his kingdom, to eradicate entirely their prevarications and superstitions...We promulgate with him, therefore, this unanimous decision...namely, that anyone who will obtain in the succession of time the crown of the kingdom should not ascend the royal throne before he had promised, among the other terms of his oath, that he would not allow them [the Jews] to violate this Catholic faith and that he would not show favor in any way to their perfidy...
Toledo XII (681)
On the Confirmation of the Laws that were Promulgated Against the Vileness of the Jews, Following the Ordered List of the Titles of these Laws, which is given in the same Canon:
De Judaeorum Autem: We have examined thoroughly, and with great attention to meaning, the laws recently given by the glorious prince concerning the execrable perfidy of the Jews, laws whose regulations are divided among different titles; and, cognizant of the weight of their importance, we have improved their measures.... Henceforth they should be maintained irrevocably against their crimes, in due course of justice, as follows:
De Commemoratione Priscarum: The law on recalling the ancient laws promulgated against the transgressions of the Jews and on their new confirmation. Item, De Blasphematoribus Sanctae: The Law on those blaspheming against the Holy Trinity. Item, Ne Judaei Aut: That Jews should not remove from the grace of baptism either their sons or their servants.
Item, Ne Judaei More Suo Celerbrent: That Jews should not celebrate Pascha according to their custom or practice circumcisions of the flesh, and that they should not turn any Christian from the faith of Christ.
Item, Ne Judaei Sabbatha: That the Jews shall not dare to celebrate Sabbath and the other holidays of their rite.
Item, Omnis Judaei Diebus: That every Jew should cease from work on Sundays and on the designated days.
Item, Ne Judaei more Suo DiJudicent: Jews should not discriminate between foods according to their custom.
Item, Ne Judaei Ex Propinquitate: That the Jews should not enter into marriage with close blood relatives, and that they shall not dare to be married without the benediction of a priest.
Item, Ne Judaei Religion: That the Jews should not dare defend their sect by insulting our religion, and that they should not move elsewhere in flight from our faith, and that no one should receive them in their escape.
Item, Ne Christianus A Judaeo: That a Christian should not accept any sort of gift from a Jew against the faith of Christ.
Item, Ne Judaei Libros: That the Jews shall not dare to read those books that the Christian faith repudiates.
Item, Ne Judaeis Mancipia: That Christian slaves should not serve Jews or adhere to them.
Item, Judaeus Ex Aliis: That a Jew coming from other provinces or territories under our royal rule should not defer presenting himself before the local bishop or priest.
Item, De Damnis Sacerdotum: On the punishments of priest and judges who would delay putting into effect the measures instituted in the laws against Jews.
Pact of Umar (7th C.)
This document, composed by Umar I around 637 but subsequently altered, is an early attempt at regulating relations between the Jews and Christians, on the one hand, and Muslims on the other.
This is a letter to the servant of God, Umar, Commander of the faithful, from the Christians of such and such a city. When you [Muslims] marched against us, we asked of you protection for ourselves, our posterity, our possessions, and our co-religionists; and we made this stipulation with you, that we will not erect in our cities or the suburbs any new monastery, church, cell or hermitage; that we will not repair any of such buildings that may fall into ruins, or renew those that may be situated in the Muslim quarters of the town; that we will not refuse the Muslims entry into our churches either by night or by day; that we will open the gates wide to passengers and travelers; that we will receive any Muslim traveler into our houses and give him food and lodging for three nights; that we will not harbor any spy in our churches or houses, or conceal any enemy of the Muslims....
...that we will not prevent any of our kinsmen from embracing Islam, if they so desire. That we will honor the Muslims and rise up in our assemblies when cap, turban, sandals, or parting of the hair; that we will not make use of their expressions of speech, nor adopt the surnames...that we will not ride on saddles or gird on swords, or take to ourselves arms or wear them, or engrave Arabic inscriptions on our rings; that we will not sell wine...that we will shave the front of our heads; that we will keep to our own style of dress, wherever we may be; that we will wear girdles round our waists...
...that we will not recite our service in a loud voice when a Muslim is present.
The Jews of Angevin England (7th to 13th C.)
This collection of laws contained numerous religious, financial and social restrictions against Jews.
The Laws of the Church about the Jews (7th C.)
I. If any Christian woman takes gifts from the infidel Jews or of her own will and commits sin with them, let her be separated from church a whole year and live in much tribulation, and then let her repent for nine years . . . But if with a pagan let her repent seven years.
II. If anyone shall despise the council of the Nicene Synod and make Easter with the Jews on the fourteenth of the moon, he shall be cut off from the whole church, unless he do penance before his death.
III. If any Christians accepts from the infidel Jews their unleavened cakes or any other meat or drink and share in their impieties, he shall do penance with bread and water for forty days.
Corpus Juris Canonici. Decretal V. vi (1198)
C. III. Jews may keep their old synagogues, may not erect new ones....
C. IV. On Good Friday Jews may not keep their doors or windows open....
C. V. Christians ought to be excommunicated who serve Jews in their houses. And secular princes ought to be excommunicated who spoil baptized Jews of their goods.
A General Release except for Jews. Faedera (1204)
Know that we, for the love of God and salvation of the soul of our mother who is dead, have freed and acquitted from Wednesday next before Easter, 14th, April, in the fifth year of our reign, all the prisoners and incarcerated, whether for felony, or robber, for breach of the first law, or any other crime: except prisoners captured in our war, and except those whom we sent from Normandy to England to be incarcerated or kept under guard, and except our Jewish prisoners.
The King of the Sheriff of Dorset, & c.
Charlemagne’s "Capitulary for the Jews" (814)
King Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, focused on financial transactions of Jews in this law.
1. Let no Jew presume to take in pledge or for any debt any of the goods of the Church in gold, silver, or other form, from any Christian. But if he presume to do so, which God forbid, let all his goods be seized and let his right hand be cut off.
2. Let no Jew presume to take any Christian in pledge for any Jew or Christian, nor let him do anything worse; but if he presume to do so, let him make reparation according to this law, and at the same time he shall lose both pledge and debt.
3. Let no Jew presume to have a money-changer’s table in his house, nor shall he presume to sell wine, grain, or other commodities there. But if it be discovered that he has done so all his goods shall be taken away from him, and he shall be imprisoned until he is brought into our presence.
Obadiah the Proselyte on the treatment of the Jews of Baghdad under Al-Muqtadi (Iraq, 11th C.)
This text unearthed from a geniza (document storeroom) describes policies instituted against Jews of Baghdad.
He directed that yellow badges should be affixed to the headgear of every Jewish male. In addition to the badge on the head, another of lead, the weight of a silver coin, was to hang round the neck of every Jew. The lead pendant was to be inscribed with the word "dhimmi" indicating that the Jews were the tribute bearers. He also imposed that every Jew should wear a distinguishing belt around the waist. Abu Shuja imposed two distinguishing signs upon Jewish women. Each woman had to wear one red shoe and one black shoe. Furthermore, each woman had to have a small copper bell on her neck or on her shoe which would tinkle so that all would know and differentiate between the women of the Jews and of the Muslims. He assigned cruel Muslim men to watch over the Jewish men and cruel Muslim women to oversee the Jewish women, in order to oppress them with every sort of insult, humiliation, and contempt. The Muslims would mock them, and the common rabble, together with their children, would beat Jews through all the streets of Baghdad.
The law regarding the tribute which was collected annually by the servants to the ruler of Baghdad is as follows: From every wealthy Jew, they would collect four and a half dinars; from every Jew of middle class, two and a half; and from the poorest Jews, one and a half. If a Jew died, not having paid the tribute in full, the Muslims would not let him be buried until the remainder is paid, be the amount large or small. If the deceased left nothing of value, the Muslims demanded it from the Jewish community, and they must redeem their dead by paying the outstanding tribute money out of their own funds. If not, the Muslims would seek to burn the body.
Fourth Lateran Council (1215)
This was the largest ecumenical church gathering ever, and represented a high-water mark in the authority of the papacy under Innocent III.
In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews of Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any differences. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress.... Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning. This, however, we forbid most severely, that any one should presume at all to break forth in insult to the Redeemer. And since we ought not to ignore any insult to Him who blotted out our disgraceful deeds, we command that such impudent fellows be checked by the secular princes by imposing them proper punishment so that they shall not at all presume to blaspheme Him who was crucified for us.
Canon 69: Since it is absurd that a blasphemer of Christ exercise authority over Christians, we on account of the boldness of transgressors renew in this general council what the Synod of Toledo (589) wisely enacted in this matter, prohibiting Jews from being given preference in the matter of public offices, since in such capacity they are most troublesome to the Christians.
Canon 70: Some (Jews), we understand, who voluntarily approached the waters of holy baptism, do not entirely cast off the old man that they may more perfectly put on the new one, because, retaining remnants of the former rite, they obscure by such a mixture the beauty of the Christian religion.... We decree that such persons be in every way restrained by the prelates from the observance of the former rite, that, having given themselves of their own observance.
Holy Land Decrees:
...We command also that Jews be compelled by the secular power to cancel interest, and, till they have done so, intercourse with them must be absolutely denied them by all Christians under penalty of excommunication.
Introduction of the Jew-Badge in England by King Henry III (Oxford, March 30th, 1217)
Many laws required Jews to wear distinguishing dress when living among Christian and Muslims.
The King To The Sheriff Of Worchester We order you to have published and observed throughout your bailiwick that all Jews wear upon the fore part of their upper garment, wherever they walk or ride, within or outside the village, two white tables made of white linen or parchment so that, by a sign of this kind, Jews can be patently distinguished from Christians.
Orders of Confiscation (France, 1246)
The property of Jews in France (and elsewhere) was sometimes confiscated by the crown, as this law describes.
Laws Enacted at Saint-Germain-en-Laye
1. We order you to return to those to whom they belong all those Jews held captive who do not belong to us and not to seize anything from them.
2. However, from those held captive who are our Jews, since we wish to have from them as much as possible, you should seize goods and, indicating to us the sum which you are able to realize therefrom, you should cause that sum to be carefully and safely guarded and preserved.
3. We further order, concerning captive and other Jews of your seneschalsy or Jews who live in those areas under our jurisdiction, that you cause them to be forbidden by person and goods from henceforth presuming to extort usury. Rather, they should earn their sustenance from another source.
4. We also order and command you not to compel anyone to repay debts to the Jews and to receive nothing of debts which Christians owe to Jews. |
German Laws (13th C.)
These sets of laws in Germany forced Jews to set themselves apart by their dress.
Provincial Council of Breslau (1267)
We also decree and ordain that Jews shall resume the horned hat, which at one time they were accustomed to wear in these parts, and presumed in their temerity to put aside, so that they should be clearly discernible from Christians.
Article 214, 10. The Jews shall wear hats that are pointed; thereby they are marked off from the Christians, so that one shall take them for Jews.
Las Siete Partidas / "The Seven-Part Code" (Castile, 13th C.)
These laws, part of a much larger code, were composed in the 13th Century but did not take effect until the 14th Century. Once enacted, they were applied throughout Spain, and in territories possessed by Spain (including Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico).
Title XXIV. Concerning the Jews:
Law VII. What Penalty a Christian Deserves Who Becomes a Jew
Where a Christian is so unfortunate as to become a Jew, we order that he shall be put to death just as if he had become a heretic; and we decree that his property shall be disposed of in the same way that should be done with that of heretics.
Law VIII. No Christian Man or Woman shall live with a Jew
We forbid any Jew to keep Christian men or women in his house, to be served by them; although he may have them to cultivate and take care of his lands or protect him on the way when he is compelled to go to some dangerous place. Moreover, we forbid any Christian man or woman to invite a Jew or a Jewess, or to accept an invitation from them, to eat or drink together, or to drink any wine made by their hands....
Law IX. What Penalty a Jew Deserves Who Has Intercourse with a Christian Woman
Jews who live with Christian women are guilty of great insolence and boldness, for which reason we decree that all Jews who, hereafter, may be convicted of having done such a thing shall be put to death.
Law XI. Jews Shall Bear Certain Marks in Order That They Be Known
Many crimes and outrageous things occur between Christians and Jews because they live together in cities, and dress alike; and in order to avoid the offenses and evils which take place for this reason, we deem it proper and we order that all Jews male and female living in our dominions shall bear some distinguishing mark upon their heads so that people may plainly recognize a Jew or a Jewess; and any Jew who does not bear such a mark, shall pay for each time he is found without it ten maravedis of gold; and if he has not the means to do this he shall publicly receive ten lashes for his offence.
Capitation Tax at Segovia (August 29, 1304)
This law, issued by Kind Ferdinand, required payment from Jews for the death of Jesus.
We, Ferdinand, by the grace of God, king of Castile, etc., etc. To the Jews of the Jewry of Segovia, and all other Jewries of the towns and places within the said diocese, to whom this my order or a copy of it signed by a Notary Public, cometh, health and grace. Know ye, that the bishop and dean have complained to me, and say, that you will not pay nor account with them, nor to their order, the thirty deniers each of you have to give in memorial of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, when the Jews crucified him, and intreat me to order what I deem right. You are bound to pay the same in gold, and I consider it just that you pay the amount in the correct coin.
Therefore I command that you give and pay the same, and annually make payment thereof to the bishop, dean, and chapter, aforesaid, or any of them, or the persons that receive for them, thirty deniers of the current coin, each of you well and truly, in such manner that there be no deduction therefrom. And should they require assistance for the fulfillment hereof, I command the councilors, magistrates, alcaldes, judges, and all other officers, or any of them, to whom this my order, or a copy of it duly authenticated, cometh, to accompany and assist them in such manner that what I command be fulfilled.
Given at Palencia, 29th August 1304
Laws Enacted at Paris (August 18, 1306)
Another confiscation decree in France.
Philip, by the grace of God king of the French, to the overseers of Jewish affairs in the bailliage of Orleans and to the bailiff of that area, greetings:
We command you and each of you to have all lands, houses, vineyards and other possessions, which the Jews of the said bailliage held as their own at the time of their arrest, sold at public auction for a just price on our behalf. This should be done as quickly as possible....You should cause all this to be announced throughout the entire bailliage without delay.
Provincial Council of Zamora (Spain, 1313)
A panoply of restrictions on vocation, social relations, religious practice, etc.
1. Thirty days are allowed to all Jews that now do or hereafter may reside in our province, for the execution hereof.
That in criminal, civil, and all other causes, they shall not oppose nor defend themselves by the privilege they have; saying that as no Jew was summoned against them in the cause, they cannot be condemned; nor may they claim that or any other privilege to the prejudice of the Christian faith, nor presume to obtain such similar privileges.
Therefore we obtain, that in criminal, and all other causes, the testimony of the Jews against Jews shall be valid as heretofore; but not of a Jew against a Christian, nor, as is proper or just, shall his testimony be received. Those persons that desire to place Jews above Christians, and do not observe these and all other constitutions made against the Jews, whether they be ecclesiastic, layman, or secularized clergy; may the curse of Almighty God, of St. Peter and St. Paul, whose constitutions they are inclined to break, and the curse of St. Iago come upon them. The ordinary prelates shall compel and oblige them to observe this. Those persons who act contrary shall receive from the holy church the punishment the sin deserves.
2. Henceforth Jews shall hold no post or dignity from kings, or any secular prince, and within the aforesaid time they shall resign those they now hold.
3. They are not to be admitted into frequent association with Christians, lest from the intimacy, they adopt their errors which they do not understand.
4. That they do not serve as witnesses against Christians, nor claim as hitherto the benefit of the laws.
5. That no Christian women, either temporarily or otherwise, act as wet nurses, or rear their children.
6. They are not to appear in public, from the Wednesday of Passion Week until Saturday; and on Good Friday are to close their doors and windows the whole day, not to mock the sorrow of Christians for the passion.
7. The Jews and Jewesses wear an ostensible sign, that they may be distinguished and separate among Christians, which is right, practiced in other states.
8. Notwithstanding their learning and reputation, they are not to practice medicine with the Christians.
9. They are not to invite Christians to their feasts, that Christians do not eat with Jews; particular they are not to eat their meat or drink their wine.
10. They are annually to pay tithes on their landed property, and the houses they occupy, the same as Christians did before they belonged to Jews.
11. Synagogues that have been newly erected or enlarged, shall be restored to their former state between this date, and the next great festival of the resurrection; this term is peremptorily fixed, and if at its expiration the Jews have not executed it, the judges, alcaldes, communities, and universities of the cities, towns, and places where synagogues have been recently erected and elevated, are to fulfill and have this ordinance executed, in virtue of holy obedience under the penalty of Constitution 1.
12. They are not to practice usury, nor exact, nor take any interest from Christians, as is prohibited by the constitutions of Pope Clement V, enacted at the council of Vienne; and any person who acts contrary, or attempts to hide it, incurs the penalties ordained by the said council.
13. On Sundays and other Christian holidays, they are not to work publicly for themselves or other persons.
Ecclesiastical Law (Germany, 15th C.)
Restriction on relations between Jews and Christians.
If a Jew commits a transgression by lying with a Christian woman, and she gives birth to a child, the child shall not remain with the father. It is to be baptized, and its Christian mother shall educate it. Should she die, another Christian shall educate it. The secular court or municipal council shall direct and compel the Jew to reimburse them for the cost of the child’s education until it will be able to care for itself....
Laws of King John I (Spain, 1412)
These laws contain numerous types of restrictions on Jewish activities.
1. That all Jews of my kingdoms and dominions reside and live apart from Christians, in an enclosure in a part of the city, town or village, where they are resident; and the streets around it shall be closed with gates in such a manner, that all the gates lead to the enclosure...
2. Furthermore, I ordain and command, that no Jews or Jewesses shall be spice dealers, apothecaries, surgeons, or physicians, or sell bread, wine, flour, oil, butter, or other eatables to Jews or Christians, or keep warehouses, shops, or tables for selling, either publicly or secretly, except for the disposal of grapes, live stock (that they have a license for), as well as fruit and vegetables, the produce of their own or hired gardens...Any Jews or Jewesses whomsoever who act contrary hereto, shall incur the penalty of 500 maravedis for each offence, besides the corporal punishment my pleasure may choose to inflict, that they may learn to perform my order....
4. I likewise ordain and command, that the Jews and Jewesses are not to eat with Christians, nor Christians among Jews and Jewesses...
7. Furthermore I ordain and order, that no Jews or Jewesses shall be brokers or bankers, or carry swords, daggers, or similar arms, in the cities, towns, and places of my kingdoms; but they may carry knives to cut food. Any Jew or Jewess who acts contrary hereto, or to any part hereof, shall be fined for each time offending 500 maravedis.
11. Furthermore I ordain and command, that no Jew or Jewess shall be styled, either in writing or verbally, don or donna: if by consent they are so called, for each time they are to pay a fine of 500 maravedis, but otherwise they incur no penalty.
13. Furthermore I ordain and command, that all Jews in my kingdoms shall wear over their clothes coats with skirts, and shall not wear cloaks; and in the cities, towns, and places where they reside, they shall wear the customary red sign or badge; but it is my pleasure, that in traveling, as well on the road as in the places they go to, they may wear the clothes they now have, to avoid the dangers they might otherwise encounter.
15. Furthermore I ordain and command, that none of the Jews of my kingdoms and dominions shall shave, or have their beards shaved with razors; but they may cut them with scissors...
19. Furthermore I ordain and command, that no Jew is to be a tailor, or make dresses for any Christian woman, of whatever rank or condition she may be....
Papal Bull of Pope Benedict XIII (Spain, 1415)
Following the Disputation at Tortosa, one of the Jewish-Christian debates rabbis were compelled to attend, Pope Benedict XIII issued this bull.
1. To prohibit generally all persons, without distinction, publicly or privately, to hear, read, or teach the doctrines of the Talmud; ordering that within one month there becollected in the cathedral of every diocese, all copies that can be found of the Talmud...and every other writing that has directly or indirectly any relation to such doctrine; and the diocesans and inquisitors are to watch over the observance of this decree, visiting the Jews personally or by others, within their jurisdictions every two years, and punishing severely every delinquent...
3. That no Jew may make, repair, or under any pretence have in his possession any crucifix, chalices, or sacred vessels, nor bind Christians’ books in which the name of Jesus Christ or the most Holy Virgin Mary is written. Christians who give any of these articles to Jews...are to be excommunicated.
4. No Jew may exercise the office of judge, even in causes that may occur among his people.
5. All synagogues recently built or repaired are to be closed. Where there is one, it may remain, provided it is not sumptious...but should it be proved that any one of the said synagogues has at any time been a church, it is immediately to be closed.
6. No Jew may be a physician, surgeon, druggist, shopkeeper, provision dealer, or marriage maker, or hold any other office, whereby he has to interfere in Christians’ affairs; nor may Jewesses be midwives, or have Christian nurses; nor Jews have Christians to serve them, or sell to, or buy provisions of them, or join them at any banquet, or bathe in the same bath, or be stewards or agents to Christians, or learn any science, art, or trade in their schools.
7. That in every city, town, or village where there are Jews, barriers shall be appointed for their residence apart from Christians.
8. That all Jews or Jewesses shall wear on their clothes a certain red and yellow sign, of the size and shape designated in the bull, men on the breast of the outward garment, and women in front.
9. That no Jew may trade, or make any contract; thus to avoid the frauds they practice, and the usuries they charge to Christians.
10. That all Jews and Jewesses converted to the Catholic faith...may inherit from their unconverted parents and relatives; declaring null any testament, codicil, last-will or donation INTER VITO they may make to prevent any of their property devolving to Christians.
11. That in all cities, towns, and villages, where there may be the number of Jews the diocesan may deem sufficient, three public sermons are to be preached annually; one on the second Sunday of Advent; one on the festival of the Resurrection; and the other on the Sunday when the Gospel, "And Jesus approached Jerusalem," is chanted. All Jews above twelve years of age shall be compelled to attend to hear these sermons. The subjects are to be the first to show them that the true Messiah has already come, quoting the passages of the Holy Scripture and the Talmud that were argued in the disputation of Jerome of Santa Fe; the second to make them see that the heresies, vanities, and errors of the Talmud, prevent their knowing the truth; and the third, explaining to them the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, and the perpetuity of their captivity, as our Lord Jesus Christ and the other prophets had prophesied. And at the end of these sermons this bull is to be read, that the Jews may not be ignorant of any of its decrees.
Regulation of King John II (Spain,1481)
Another clothing restriction.
As to the clothes of Jews, it is right that they should be of the same description of cloth as I have ordered other men to wear, but they may not wear silk, and are only to wear woolen. And they are to wear the customary sign of a star, according to the form of ordinance, on the pit of the stomach.
Edict of Expulsion from Spain (1492)
After consolidating Spain under their rule, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered the expulsion of the ancient Spanish Jewish community. An estimated 40,000-100,000 Jews were forced to leave Spain.
Whereas, having been informed that in these kingdoms, there were some bad Christians who judaized and apostatized from our holy Catholic faith, the chief cause of which was the communication of Jews with Christians; at the Cotes we held in the city of Toledo in the year of 1480, we ordered the said Jews in all the cities, towns, and places in our kingdoms and dominions, to separate into Jewries and place apart, where they should live and reside, hoping by their separation alone to remedy the evil. Furthermore, we have sought and given orders, that inquisition should be made in our said kingdoms, which, as is known, for upwards of twelve years has been, and is done, whereby many guilty persons have been discovered, as is notorious.
And as we are informed by the inquisitors, and many other religious, ecclesiastical, and secular persons, that great injury has resulted and does result, and it is stated, and appears to be, the participation, society, and communication they held and do hold with Jews, who it appears always endeavor in every way they can to subvert our holy Catholic faith, and to make faithful Christians withdraw and separate themselves therefrom, and attract and pervert them to their injurious opinions and belief, instructing them in the ceremonies and observances of their religion, holding meetings where they read and teach them what they are to believe and observe according to their religion; seeking to circumcise them and their children; giving them books from which they may read their prayers; and explaining to them the fasts they are to observe; assembling with them to read and to teach the histories of their law; notifying to them the festivals previous to their occurring, and instructing them what they are to do and observe thereon; giving and carrying to them from their houses unleavened bread and meat slaughtered with ceremonies; insulting them what they are to refrain from, as well as in food as in other matters, for the due observance of their religion, and persuaidt gnehla m ltehac y nt oporssefa k dneeht p elwa fo oM;sesg nivi gtehot mu rednts,dnat tahxetpect ,taht erehi on s other law or truth, which is proved by many declarations and confessions, as well of Jews themselves as of those who have been perverted and deceived by them, which has greatly rebounded to the injury, detriment, and opprobrium of our holy Catholic faith. Notwithstanding we were informed of the major part of this before, and we knew the certain remedy for all these injuries and inconveniences was to separate the said Jews from all communication with Christians, and banish them from all our kingdoms, yet we were desirous to content ourselves by ordering them to quit all the cities, towns, and places of Andalusia, where, it appears they had done greatest mischief, considering that would suffice, and that those other cities, towns and places would cease to do and commit the same. But as we are informed that neither that nor execution of some of the said Jews, who have been guilty of the said crimes and offenses against our holy Catholic faith, has been sufficient for a complete remedy to obviate and arrest so great an opprobrium and offence to the Catholic faith and religion. And as it is found and appears, that the said Jews, wherever they live and congregate, daily increase in continuing their wicked and injurious purposes; to afford them no further opportunity for insulting our holy Catholic faith, and those whom until now God has been pleased to preserve, as well as those who have fallen, but have amended and are brought back to our Holy Mother Church, which, according to the weakness of our human nature and the diabolical suggestion that continually wages war with us, may easily occur, unless the principal cause of it be removed, which is to banish the said Jews from our kingdoms....
Therefore we, by and with counsel and advice from some prelates and high noblemen of our kingdoms, and other learned persons of our council, having maturely deliberated thereon, resolve to order all the said Jews and Jewesses to quit our kingdoms, and never to return or come back to them, or any of them. Therefore we command this our edict to be issued, whereby we command all Jews and Jewesses, of whatever age they may be, that live, reside, and dwell in our said kingdoms and dominions, as well natives as those who are not, who in any manner or for any cause may have come to dwell therein, that by the end of the month of July next, of the present year 1492, they depart from all our said kingdoms and dominions, with their sons, daughters, man-servants, maid-servants, and Jewish attendants, both great and small, of whatever age they may be; and they shall not presume to return to, nor reside therein, or in any part of them, either as residents, travelers, or in any other manner whatever, under pain that if they do not perform and execute the same, and are found to reside in our kingdoms and dominions, or should in any manner live therein, they incur the penalty of death, and confiscation of all their property to our treasury, which penalty they incur by the act itself, without further process, declaration, or sentence.
And we command and forbid any person or persons of our said kingdoms, of whatsoever rank, station, or condition they may be, that they do not presume publicly or secretly to receive, shelter, protect, or defend any Jew or Jewess, after the said term of the end of July, under pain of losing all their property, vassals, castles, and other possessions; and furthermore forfeit to our treasury any sums they have, or receive from us.
And that the said Jews and Jewesses during the said time, until the end of the said month of July, may be the better able to dispose of themselves, their property, and estates, we hereby take and receive them under our security, protection, and royal safeguard; and insure to them and their properties, that during the said period, until the said day, the end of the said month of July, they may travel in safety, and may enter, sell, barter, and alienate all their moveable and immoveable property, and freely dispose thereof at their pleasure.
And that during the said time, no harm, injury, or wrong whatever shall be done to their persons or properties contrary to justice, under the pains those persons incur and are liable to, that violate our royal safeguard.
We likewise grant permission and authority to the said Jews and Jewesses, to export their wealth and property, by sea or land, from our said kingdoms and dominions, provided they do not take away gold, silver, money, or other articles prohibited by the laws of our kingdoms, but in merchandise and goods that are not prohibited.
And we command all the justices of our kingdoms, that they cause the whole of the above herein contained to be observed and fulfilled, and that they do not act contrary hereto; and they afford all necessary favor, under pain of being deprived of office, and the confiscation of all their property to our exchequer.
Yellow Badge Laws (16th C.)
Examples of several enactments of dress restrictions enacted in the sixteenth century.
XXII. Concerning the Dress of Jews. A yellow ring on coat or cap, not covered over, shall always and publicly be worn by Jews for their identification.
Austrian Law Enacted by Ferdinand I at Vienna (August 1, 1551)
We, Ferdinand, by the grace of God King in Hungary and Bohemia etc. It has come to us frequently and credibly to what an extent the Jews, whom we have mercifully admitted and permitted to dwell and live in a number of places of our principalities and lands, practice indecent intolerable usury, damage and injury on our Christian people and subjects; that furthermore they also indulge in many other ways in all sorts of evil, scandalous and vicious actions to the disgrace, defamation and disparagement of our sacred Christian name, belief, and religion. These scandalous evil actions are said to flow in good part from the fact that the Jews in numerous localities dwell and move about among the Christians without any distinguishing marks and without any difference in clothes and costume and thus cannot be distinguished from Christians nor recognized as Jews.
Therefore, it is due and proper to us as a Christian governing Lord and Prince, by virtue of our office, to take appropriate account of this.... Hence, we order that there be observed a distinction between Christians and Jews in clothing and costume and, as is done in numerous countries, the Jews be marked and recognized by a certain sign....Thus we decree and order...that all Jews, settled in our hereditary principalities and lands or now and then sojourning in them on business, shall begin within one month from the publication of this our general decree to use and wear publicly an uncovered a sign, by which they are to be distinguished and recognizable from Christians: namely on the outer coat or dress over the left breast a yellow ring, circumference and diameter of the circle as herein prescribed and not narrower nor smaller, made of yellow cloth (notwithstanding any previous enactments or exemptions which are hereby revoked). - Emperor Ferdinand I
Johannes Purgoldt's Law Book (16th C.)
Book VIII, Article 102. In all respects the Jews shall be different, in their dwellings, clothes, and other things. Their houses shall be separated from those of the Christians, and all of them shall be together, and ropes shall be drawn across the streets. Their clothes shall also be separate from the clothes of the Christians; males shall not wear kogeln but higher hats of felt. Men shall also wear boots, and go without wooden shoes; the women with wound veils and with wide windows on their cloaks, and without wooden shoes.
Tsar Refuses Jews' Entry (Russia, 1550)
In 1550, the Polish King Sigismund Augustus demanded that Russian Tsar Ivan IV admit Jews from Poland into Russia for business purposes in accord with treaties that had been signed between Poland and Russia. The Tsar responded:
It is not convenient to allow Jews to come with their goods to Russia, since many evils result from them. For they import poisonous herbs into our realm and lead astray the Russians from Christianity. Therefore he, the [Polish] King, should no more write about these Jews.
Religious Restrictions in Yemen (17th C)
In this document, the Yemeni Imam al–Mahda excoriated the Jewish leaders in Yemen and exhorted them to convert to Islam. This speech, as related by a Jewish historian, followed the plundering of Jewish homes by Yemeni forces. A later Imam expelled the Jews from Yemen to Mauza in the region of Tihama.
O you filthy, despicable and indolent people! I know the wickedness and evil which you have harbored in your heart against us since the day you came to our land. You think evil of our kingdom and our prophet. You are anxiously awaiting the time of our visitation and downfall, with the advent of your false-messiah....You have sinned in the times of Moses your prophet, until your God was furious with you and He dispersed your fathers from His land and scattered them in all the countries until this very day. Yet you did not hearken to the Lord of your prophets, nor did you obey Him. You also dealt deceitfully with our prophet Muhammad, the seal of the prophets, and you betrayed him....Do you think that your kingdom will be reestablished, so that you may dominate all the world and corrupt it as your fathers did? It is better for you to hearken to our words and believe in our prophet, not to deny him, so that we may become one nation. [If you don't obey] you shall risk your lives, and you shall descend to the terrible fire of Hell, the place where Jews and all the rebels and unbelievers in our prophet and his teaching go. But [if you obey] you shall be worthy of dwelling in the land, enjoying life full of pleasure, peace and tranquility. Moreover, you shall inherit a good portion in paradise, where you shall delight in abundance of marvelous orchards, streams of honey and buttermilk, with the beautiful maidens...
Edict against the Jews (Rome, 18th C)
This excerpt illustrates the early modern Church's restrictions on Jewish behavior.
Jews and Christians are forbidden to play, eat, drink, hold intercourse, or exchange confidences of ever so trifling a nature with one another. Such shall not be allowed in palaces, houses, or vineyards, in the streets, in taverns, in neither shops nor any other place. Nor shall the tavern-keeper, inn-keeper, nor shop proprietor permit any converse between Jews and Christians. The Jews who offend in this matter shall incur the penalties of a fine of 10 scudi and imprisonment; Christians, a similar fate and corporal punishment.
Petition Dismissed by Rhode Island Court (1762)
Jews and other religious minorities often faced inequality before the law in the American colonies.
The petition of Messrs. Aron Lopez & Isaac Elizar, Persons professing the Jewish Religion, praying that they may be naturalized on an Act of Parliament made in the thirteenth year of his late Majesty's Reign, George the Second, having been duly considered, and also the act of Parliament therein referr'd to; this Court are unanimously of Opinion that the said Act of Parliament was wisely designed for increasing the number of Inhabitants in the plantations, but this Colony being already so full of People that many of his Majesty's good Subjects, born within the same have removed & settled in Nova Scotia & other Places, cannot come within the Intention of the said act. Farther by the Charter granted to this Colony it appears that the free & quiet Enjoyment of the Christian Religion and a Desire of propagating the same were the principal Views with which the Colony was settled, & by a Law made & passed in the year 1663, no Person who does not profess the Christian Religion can be admitted free of this Colony. This Court, therefore, unanimously dismiss the said Petition as absolutely inconsistent with the first principles upon which the Colony was founded & a Law of the same now in full Force.
Chronology of Romanian Laws against Jews (1803-1873)
The Romanian Constitution of 1866 limited Jewish civil rights, stating "only Christians may obtain naturalization." (Article VIII) These laws limited Jewish economic rights and expelled Jews.
1803 Alexander Monize, ruler of Moldavia, forbids Jews to rent farms.
1804 Alexander Monize forbids Jews to buy farm products.
1817 Code Cahmachi forbids Jews of Romania to acquire real property.
1818 Code of John Caradja of Wallachia repeats the ancient church laws against allowing Jews to witness against Christians.
1819 Code of Kallimachor of Moldavia gave civil rights to Jews, who, however, may not own land.
1831 Fundamental law of Moldavia, chapter 3, section 94, orders all Jews and their occupations to be registered; Jews not of proved usefulness are to be expelled.
1839 Tax of 60 plasters per annum placed on Jews of Moldavia.
1850 No Jew allowed to enter Romania unless possessed of 5000 plasters and of known occupation.
1861 Circulation of Romanian ministry preventing Jews from being innkeepers in rural districts.
1864 Jews excluded from being advocates/lawyers.
1868 Jews excluded from medical profession.
1869 Jews not allowed to be tax farmers in rural communes.
1869 Jews prevented from being apothecaries, except where there are no Romanian apothecaries.
1873 Law forbidding Jews to sell spiritual liquors in rural districts.
A Russian Statute Concerning Jews in Rural Areas (1807)
One of many Russian laws that limited Jews' economic options.
Beginning with January 1, 1807, in the Governments of Astrakhan and Caucasia, also in those of Little Russia and new Russia, and, beginning with January 1, 1808, in the other Governments, no one among the Jews in any village or hamlet shall be permitted to hold any leases on land, to keep taverns, saloons, or inns, whether under his own name or under a strange name, or to sell wine in them, or even to live in them under any pretext whatever, except when passing through.Date: 5/20/2005 12:00:00 AM