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Revolutionary France enacted laws that first emancipated Jews in France, establishing them as equal citizens to other Frenchmen. In countries that Napoleon Bonaparte's ensuing First French Empire conquered during the Napoleonic Wars, he emancipated the Jews and introduced other ideas of freedom from the French Revolution. For instance, he overrode old laws restricting Jews to reside in ghettos, as well as lifting laws that limited Jews' rights to property, worship, and certain occupations.
The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.
The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).
In an effort to promote Jewish integration into French society, however, Napoleon also implemented several policies that eroded Jewish distinction. For example, he restricted the Jewish practice of money-lending, restricted the regions to which Jews were allowed to migrate, and required Jews to adopt formal names. He also implemented a series of consistories—which served as an effective channel utilized by the French government to regulate Jewish religious life.
Historians have disagreed about Napoleon's intentions in these actions, as well as his personal and political feelings about the Jewish community. Some have said he had political reasons but did not have sympathy for the Jews. His actions were generally opposed by the leaders of monarchies in other countries. After his defeat by Great Britain, a counter-revolution swept many of these countries and they restored discriminatory measures against the Jews.
The French Revolution abolished the different treatment of people according to religion or origin that had existed under the monarchy. Roman Catholicism had been the established state religion, closely tied historically to the monarchy, which represented both religious and political authority. The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen guaranteed freedom of religion and free exercise of worship, provided that it did not contradict public order. At that time, most other European countries implemented measures that restricted the rights of people in their nations who practiced minority religions.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, set by France's National Constituent Assembly in 1789, is a human civil rights document from the French Revolution.
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one's religion or beliefs.
In the early 19th century, through his conquests in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte spread the modernist ideas of revolutionary France: equality of citizens and the rule of law. Napoleon's personal attitude towards the Jews has been interpreted in various ways by different historians, as at various times he made statements both in support and opposition to the Jewish people. Orthodox Rabbi Berel Wein in Triumph of Survival: The Story of the Jews in the Modern Era 1650-1990 (1990) claims that Napoleon was interested primarily in seeing the Jews assimilate, rather than prosper as a distinct community: "Napoleon's outward tolerance and fairness toward Jews was actually based upon his grand plan to have them disappear entirely by means of total assimilation, intermarriage, and conversion."[ page needed ]
Berel Wein is an American-born Orthodox rabbi, lecturer and writer. He authored several books concerning Jewish history and popularized the subject through more than 1,000 audio tapes, newspaper articles and international lectures. Throughout his career, he has retained personal and ideological ties to both Modern Orthodox and Haredi Judaism.
Napoleon was concerned about the role of Jews as money lenders, wanting to end that. The treatment of the Alsace Jews and their debtors was raised in the Imperial Council on 30 April 1806.[ citation needed ] His liberation of the Jewish communities in Italy (notably in Ancona in the Papal States) and his insistence on the integration of Jews as equals in French and Italian societies demonstrate that he distinguished between usurers (whether Jewish or not), whom he compared to locusts, and Jews who accepted non-Jews as their equals.
Ancona is a city and a seaport in the Marche region in central Italy, with a population of around 101,997 as of 2015. Ancona is the capital of the province of Ancona and of the region. The city is located 280 km (170 mi) northeast of Rome, on the Adriatic Sea, between the slopes of the two extremities of the promontory of Monte Conero, Monte Astagno and Monte Guasco.
The Papal States, officially the State of the Church, were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign virtually concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
His letter to Champagny, Minister of the Interior of 29 November 1806, expresses his thoughts:
(While insisting on the primacy of civil law over the military, Napoleon retained a deep respect and affection for the military as a profession. He often hired former soldiers in civilian occupations).
Through his policies overall, Napoleon greatly improved the condition of the Jews in France and Europe, and they widely admired him. Starting in 1806, Napoleon passed a number of measures enhancing the position of the Jews in the French Empire. He recognized a representative group elected by the Jewish community, the Sanhedrin, as their representatives to the French government.
In conquered countries, he abolished laws restricting Jews to living in ghettos. In 1807, he designated Judaism as one of the official religions of France, along with Roman Catholicism (long the established state religion), and Lutheran and Calvinist Protestantism. (Followers of the latter had been severely persecuted by the monarchy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.)
A ghetto, often the ghetto, is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, typically as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Ghettos are often known for being more impoverished than other areas of the city. Versions of the ghetto appear across the world, each with their own names, classifications, and groupings of people.
Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1808 Napoleon rolled back a number of reforms (under the so-called décret infâme, or Infamous Decree, of 17 March 1808), declaring all debts with Jews to be annulled, reduced or postponed. The Infamous Decree imposed a ten-year ban on any kind of Jewish money-lending activity. Similarly, Jewish individuals who were in subservient positions—such as a Jewish servant, military officer, or wife—were unable to engage in any kind of money-lending activity without the explicit consent of their superiors. Napoleon's goal in implementing the Infamous Decree of 1808 was to integrate Jewish culture and customs into those of France. By restricting money-lending activity, Jews would be forced to engage in other practices for a living. Likewise, in order to even engage in money-lending activity, the decree required Jews to apply for an annual license, granted only with the recommendation of the Jews' local consistory and with the surety of the Jews' honesty.This caused so much financial loss that the Jewish community nearly collapsed. On a different note, the Infamous Decree also placed heavy restrictions on the Jews' ability to migrate. The decree prevented the Jews from relocating to the regions of Alsace and required that Jews wishing to move to other regions of France own or purchase land to farm. It also required them to refrain from engaging in any kind of money-lending activity. (The law eventually only placed these restrictions on the Jews of the northeast.) Likewise, the French decree required Jewish individuals to serve in the French military, without any opportunity to provide a replacement individual. The last component of the Infamous Decree – established in July 1808 – required Jews to adopt formal names with which they would be addressed. (Before, Jews were often referred to as “Joseph son of Benjamin.”) They were also prevented from selecting names of cities or names in the Hebrew Bible. Napoleon sought to integrate the Jewish people more fully into French society by establishing the guidelines they were required to follow in adopting names. Napoleon ended these restrictions by 1811.
Historian Ben Weider argued that Napoleon had to be extremely careful in defending oppressed minorities such as Jews, because of keeping balance with other political interests, but says that the leader clearly saw political benefit to his Empire in the long term in supporting them. Napoleon hoped to use equality as a way of gaining advantage from discriminated groups, like Jews or Protestants.
Both aspects of his thinking can be seen in an 1822 response to physician Barry O'Meara, who had written to Napoleon after he had been exiled, asking why he pressed for the emancipation of the Jews:
In a private letter to his brother Jérome Napoleon, dated 6 March 1808, Napoleon expressed a conflicting view:
During Napoleon's siege of Acre in 1799, Le Moniteur Universel, the main French newspaper during the French Revolution, published on 3 Prairial, Year vii (French Republican Calendar, equivalent to 22 May 1799) a short statement that:
"Buonaparte a fait publier une proclamation, dans laquelle il invite les juifs de l'Asie et de l'Afrique à venir se ranger sous ses drapeaux, pour rétablir l'ancienne Jérusalem; il en a déjà armé un grand nombre, et leurs bataillons menacent Alep."
This has been translated in English as:
"Bonaparte has published a proclamation in which he invites all the Jews of Asia and Africa to gather under his flag in order to re-establish the ancient Jerusalem. He has already given arms to a great number, and their battalions threaten Aleppo."
Napoleon's forces lost to Great Britain and he never carried out his alleged plan. Historians such as Nathan Schur in Napoleon and the Holy Land (2006) believe that Napoleon intended the proclamation for propaganda and to build support for his campaign among the Jews in those regions. Ronald Schechter believes that the newspaper was reporting a rumor, as there is no documentation that Napoleon contemplated such a policy. [ citation needed ]Other historians suggest that the proclamation was intended to gain support from Haim Farhi, the Jewish advisor to Ahmed al Jazzar, the Muslim ruler of Acre, and to bring him over to Napoleon's side. Farhi commanded the defence of Acre on the field.
In 1940, historian Franz Kobler claimed to have found a detailed version of the proclamation from a German translation.Kobler's claim was published in The New Judaea, the official periodical of the Zionist Organisation. The Kobler version suggests that Napoleon was inviting Jews across the Mideast and North Africa to create a Jewish state. It includes phrases such as "Rightful heirs of Palestine!" and "your political existence as a nation among the nations." These concepts have been more commonly associated with the Zionist movement, which developed in the late 19th century.
Historians such as Henry Laurens, Ronald Schechter, and Jeremy Popkin believe that the German document (which has never been found) was a forgery, as asserted by Simon Schwarzfuchs in his 1979 book.
Rabbi Aharon Ben-Levi of Jerusalem also added his voice to the proclamation, calling on the Jews to enlist in Napoleon's army "to return to Zion as in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah" and rebuild the Temple. According to Prof. Mordechai Gichon, a military historian and archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, who summarized 40 years of research on the subject, Napoleon had an idea to establish a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel, "Napoleon believed the Jews would repay his favors by serving French interests in the region."Gichon claimed. "After returning to France, all he was interested in when it came to the Jews was how to use them to reinforce the French nation," Gichon says. "Therefore, he tried to conceal the Zionist chapter of his past." On the other hand, Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, however, believes the entire story is nothing more than an oddity. "Napoleon's big contribution came, in fact, in form of promoting the incorporation of the Jews into French society,"
Napoleon had more influence on the Jews in Europe than detailed in his decrees. By breaking up the feudal castes of mid-Europe and introducing the equality of the French Revolution, he achieved more for Jewish emancipation than had been accomplished during the three preceding centuries. As part of recognizing the Jewish community, he established a national Israelite Consistory in France. It was intended to serve as a centralizing authority for Jewish religious and community life. Napoleon implemented several other regional consistories throughout the French Empire, as well, with the Israelite Consistory serving as the lead consistory; it had the responsibility of overseeing the various regional consistories. The regional consistories, in turn, oversaw the economic and religious aspects of Jewish life. The regional consistories consisted of a five-individual board, usually occupied by one (or, in some cases two) rabbis, and the rest lay individuals who lived in the districts over which the consistory maintained jurisdiction. The Israelite Consistory in France consisted of three rabbis and two lay individuals. In charge of the Israelite Consistory (and the consistory system in general) was a 25-member board. The members of the board, all Jews, were appointed by the prefect, thus allowing the French government to regulate the system of consistories and, in turn, various aspects of Jewish life.Similarly he established the Westphalia (Royal Westphalian Consistory of the Israelites ). This served as a model for other German states until after the fall of Napoleon. Napoleon permanently improved the condition of the Jews in the Prussian Rhine provinces by his rule of this area.
Heine and Börne both recorded their sense of obligation to Napoleon's principles of action.[ citation needed ] The German Jews in particular have historically regarded Napoleon as the major forerunner of Jewish emancipation in Germany. When the government required Jews to select surnames according to the mainstream model, some are said to have taken the name of Schöntheil, a translation of "Bonaparte."[ citation needed ] In the Jewish ghettos, legends grew up about Napoleon's actions. Twentieth-century Italian author Primo Levi wrote that Italian Jews often chose Napoleone and Bonaparte as their given name to recognize their historic liberator.[ citation needed ]
The Russian Czar Alexander I objected to Napoleon's emancipation of the Jews and establishment of the Great Sanhedrin. He vehemently denounced the liberties given Jews and demanded that the Russian Orthodox Church protest against Napoleon's tolerant religious policy. He referred to the Emperor in a proclamation as "the Anti-Christ" and the "Enemy of God".[ citation needed ]
The Holy Synod of Moscow proclaimed: "In order to destroy the foundations of the Churches of Christendom, the Emperor of the French has invited into his capital all the Judaic synagogues and he furthermore intends to found a new Hebrew Sanhedrin ― the same council that the Christian bible states, condemned to death (by crucifixion) the revered figure, Jesus of Nazareth."[ citation needed ]
The Czar persuaded Napoleon to sign a 17 March 1808 decree restricting the freedoms accorded to the Jews. Napoleon expected in exchange that the Czar would help persuade Great Britain to end the war in Europe. Absent that, three months later, Napoleon effectively cancelled the decree by allowing local authorities to implement his earlier reforms. More than half of the French départements restored citizens' guaranteed freedoms to the Jews.[ citation needed ]
In Austria, Chancellor Metternich wrote, "I fear that the Jews will believe (Napoleon) to be their promised Messiah".[ citation needed ]
In Prussia, leaders of the Lutheran Church were extremely hostile to Napoleon's actions. Italian kingdoms were suspicious of his actions, although expressing less violent opposition. [ citation needed ]
Great Britain, which was at war with Napoleon, rejected the principle and doctrine of the Sanhedrin.[ citation needed ]
All the states under French authority applied Napoleon's reforms. In Italy, the Netherlands, and the German states, the Jews were emancipated and able to act as free men for the first time in those nations. After the British defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, a counter-revolution in many of these countries resulted in the restoration of discriminatory measures against Jews.
Bonaparte, Commandant en chef des Armées de la République Française en Afrique et en Asie, aux héritiers légitimes de la Palestin
The supposed German manuscript original has never surfaced, and the authenticity of this text is dubious at best. ... The French press of the period is full of spurious flews reports...
The Sanhedrin were assemblies of either twenty-three or seventy-one rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel.
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records during the Hellenistic period and the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dated 1213–1203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian captivity and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian captivity. Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.
The Siege of Acre of 1799 was an unsuccessful French siege of the Ottoman-defended, walled city of Acre and was the turning point of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and Syria. It was Napoleon`s first strategic defeat as three years previously he had been tactically defeated at the Second Battle of Bassano.
The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and joined 38 other sovereign states in the German Confederation in June 1815. The kingdom was ruled by the House of Hanover, a cadet branch of the House of Welf, in personal union with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1837. Since its monarch resided in London, a viceroy handled the administration of the Kingdom of Hanover.
Jewish emancipation was the external process in various nations in Europe of eliminating Jewish disabilities, e.g. Jewish quotas, to which Jewish people were then subject, and the recognition of Jews as entitled to equality and citizenship rights. It included efforts within the community to integrate into their societies as citizens. It occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century. Jewish emancipation followed the Age of Enlightenment and the concurrent Jewish enlightenment. Various nations repealed or superseded previous discriminatory laws applied specifically against Jews where they resided. Before the emancipation, most Jews were isolated in residential areas from the rest of the society; emancipation was a major goal of European Jews of that time, who worked within their communities to achieve integration in the majority societies and broader education. Many became active politically and culturally within wider European civil society as Jews gained full citizenship. They emigrated to countries offering better social and economic opportunities, such as the Russian Empire and France. Some European Jews turned to Socialism, and others to Jewish zionism.
Israel Jacobson was a German-Jewish philanthropist and communal organiser. Jacobson pioneered political, educational and religious reforms in the early days of Jewish emancipation, and while he lacked a systematic religious approach, he is also considered one of the heralds of Reform Judaism.
On March 17, 1808, Napoleon I created three decrees in a failed attempt to bring equality and to integrate the Jews into French society after the Jewish Emancipation of 1790-1791. The Infamous Decree, the third of the three, had adverse effects. Although the decrees' aim was to further emancipate the Jews into equal citizenship, it restricted Jewish money lending, it annulled all debts owed to Jews by non Jewish debtors and limited the residency of new Jewish peoples in France by restricting all business activities while allowing work in agriculture and regular craftsmanship. The combination of these decrees severely weakened the financial position of once dominant rural French money lending Jews.
The Kingdom of Westphalia was a kingdom in Germany, with a population of 2.6 million, that existed from 1807 to 1813. It included territory in Hesse and other parts of present-day Germany. While formally independent, it was a vassal state of the First French Empire and was ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte. It was named after Westphalia, but this was a misnomer since the kingdom had little territory in common with that area; rather the kingdom mostly covered territory formerly known as Eastphalia.
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside the Jewish community. From the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans to the foundation of Israel the Jewish people had no territory, and, until the 19th century they by-and-large were also denied equal rights in the countries in which they lived. Thus, until the 19th century effort for the emancipation of the Jews, almost all Jewish political struggles were internal, and dealt primarily with either religious issues or issues of a particular Jewish community.
The French Campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801) was Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign in the Ottoman territories of Egypt and Syria, proclaimed to defend French trade interests, weaken Britain's access to British India, and to establish scientific enterprise in the region. It was the primary purpose of the Mediterranean campaign of 1798, a series of naval engagements that included the capture of Malta.
The Grand Sanhedrin was a Jewish high court convened in Europe by Napoleon I to give legal sanction to the principles expressed by the Assembly of Notables in answer to the twelve questions submitted to it by the government. The name was chosen to imply that the Grand Sanhedrin had the authority of the original Sanhedrin that had been the main legislative and judicial body of the Jewish people in classical and late antiquity.
The Israelite Central Consistory of France is an institution set up by Napoleon I by the Imperial Decree of 17 March 1808 to administer Jewish worship and congregations in France. He also directed the establishment of regional Israelite Consistories, subordinate to the Central Consistory, across France. The consistories were ranked as établissements publics du culte. Given Napoleon's political emancipation of the Jews, he wanted a representative body that could deal with his government.
The Prozbul was established in the waning years of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by Hillel the Elder. The writ, issued historically by rabbis, technically changed the status of individual private loans into the public administration, allowing the poor to receive interest-free loans before the Sabbatical year while protecting the investments of the lenders.
Joseph David Sinzheim was the chief rabbi of Strasbourg. He was son of Rabbi Isaac Sinzheim of Treves, and brother-in-law of Herz Cerfbeer.
The history of the Jews in Livorno, Italy has been documented since 1583, when descendants of the late 15th-century expulsions from Spain and Portugal settled in the city. They were settled initially by Sephardic Jews from Pisa. The Jewish community of Livorno, although the youngest among the historic Jewish communities of Italy, was for some time the foremost: its members achieved political rights and wealth, and contributed to scholarship in the thriving port city. Numerous Jewish schools and welfare institutions were established.
The history of the Jews in Alsace is one of the oldest in Europe. It was first attested to in 1165 by Benjamin of Tudela, who wrote about a "large number of learned men" in "Astransbourg"; and it is assumed that it dates back to around the year 1000. Although Jewish life in Alsace was often disrupted by outbreaks of pogroms, at least during the Middle Ages, and reined in by harsh restrictions on business and movement, it has had a continuous existence ever since it was first recorded. At its peak, in 1870, the Jewish community of Alsace numbered 35,000 people.
A Jewish consistory, , was a body governing the Jewish congregations of a province or of a country; also the district administered by the consistory.
The relationship between Judaism and politics is a historically complex subject, and has evolved over time concurrently with both changes within Jewish society and religious practice, and changes in the secular societies in which Jews live. In particular, Jewish political thought can be split into four major eras: biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern.
The Corps of Israelites was a short-lived military unit of the Kingdom of Holland recruited solely from the Jewish population. King Louis Bonaparte, who strongly supported Jewish emancipation, proposed to raise the unit as part of his efforts to improve the equality of Jews in his kingdom. Until the Batavian Revolution of 1795, Jews had traditionally been excluded from most professions, including military service.