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Thread: Jews in the Teutonic State and Prussia

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    Jews in the Teutonic State and Prussia

    How antisemitic or non-antisemitic were the Knights Teutonic, and did Jews live in their state?

    also, in the Duchy and Kingdom of Prussia, how many Jews lived in East Prussia and West Prussia, and were they discriminated against? Any info along these lines would be very very helpful.

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    at least in the 1200s, the Knights were VERY antisemitic... I recall reading about massive pogroms and killings, etc, which is not a fun thing to talk about on here. in the beginning at least, the Knights Teutonic and Jews did not go together with good results.
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    Armchair General w/ cupholder jeffg006's Avatar

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    I believe in the Holy Roman Empire, lots of the anti-semitic official policies were instituted by secular and non secular rulers between the 13th-15th century. I know in the west Rhine lands and Pfalz Synagogues were officially shut down in the 1400s, however I am not so sure about east Germany or the Teutonic Knight's lands. To tell the truth, I doubt Jews would have held much attraction to those rulers - they did not 'fit into' the feudal system much of medieval Europe ran on. As the teutonic order did not work in the same traditional feudal manner, I think they might even take less notice of local Jews.

    Agreed the knights were as anti semitic as any Christian medieval zealot or appointed holy warrior might be. But no more than say, the Templars or the Spanish orders.
    "As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in mendacious assumptions - such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…- utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead." - H.P. Lovecraft, 1936

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffg006
    I believe in the Holy Roman Empire, lots of the anti-semitic official policies were instituted by secular and non secular rulers between the 13th-15th century. I know in the west Rhine lands and Pfalz Synagogues were officially shut down in the 1400s, however I am not so sure about east Germany or the Teutonic Knight's lands. To tell the truth, I doubt Jews would have held much attraction to those rulers - they did not 'fit into' the feudal system much of medieval Europe ran on. As the teutonic order did not work in the same traditional feudal manner, I think they might even take less notice of local Jews.

    Agreed the knights were as anti semitic as any Christian medieval zealot or appointed holy warrior might be. But no more than say, the Templars or the Spanish orders.
    so would the Knights have tolerated a Jewish presence in their territory, or do you think they would be more likely to massacre / expel them?

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    Is there any connection between the German expansion eastwards in the 13th century or the anti-semitic policies in the HRE and the establishment of the large Polish population in Poland and Lithuania? If I'm not mistaken, over half the Jews in Europe during this time period lived in P-L, didn't they? Were they driven there by the policies in Germany and the Order's lands, or had they moved there prior?

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    Armchair General w/ cupholder jeffg006's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ganon
    so would the Knights have tolerated a Jewish presence in their territory, or do you think they would be more likely to massacre / expel them?
    If I were to make a semi educated guess on the matter, I would say that there would be Jews allowed to individually operate like anywhere else, however there would be no tolerance for public practice or synagogues.


    Ashkenazi migrations throughout the High and Late Middle Ages

    Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the Alps and Pyrenees as early as the 8th and 9th century. By the early 900s, Jewish populations were well-established in Northern Europe, and later followed the Norman Conquest into England in 1066, also settling in the Rhineland. With the onset of the Crusades, and the expulsions from England (1290), France (1394), and parts of Germany (1400s), Jewish migration pushed eastward into Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. Over this period of several hundred years, some have suggested, Jewish economic activity was focused on trade, business management, and financial services, due to Christian European prohibitions restricting certain activities by Jews, and preventing certain financial activities (such as "usurious" loans) between Christians.[19]
    The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent.

    By the 1400s, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora.[20] Poland in this time was a decentralized medieval monarchy, incorporating lands from Latvia to Romania, including much of modern Lithuania and Ukraine. This area, which eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria, and Prussia (Germany), would remain the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.
    So I would hold the opinion of a guess that they would be tolerated but culturally shunned to a point, and officially allowed no rights - especially of practice - within cities unless it was as a business of some type.
    IE, no synagogues, large established Jewish families, but they are very local and there are many.

    If anyone is more educated than me on this, and I am very sure many of you are wiser on this, please give any info. Now my curiousity is enticed.
    "As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in mendacious assumptions - such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…- utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead." - H.P. Lovecraft, 1936

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    Armchair General w/ cupholder jeffg006's Avatar

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    Oh, more Wikipedia:

    1096 - 1349 Period of Massacre (History of Jews in Holy Roman Empire/ or Germany part of site)

    The wild excitement to which the Germans had been driven by exhortations to take the cross first broke upon the Jews, the nearest representatives of an execrated opposition faith. Entire communities, like those of Treves, Speyer, Worms, Mayence, and Cologne, were slain, except where the slayers were anticipated by the deliberate self-destruction of their intended victims. About 12,000 Jews are said to have perished in the Rhenish cities alone between May and July 1096. These outbreaks of popular passion during the Crusades influenced the future status of the Jews. To salve their consciences the Christians brought accusations against the Jews to prove that they had deserved their fate; imputed crimes, like desecration of the host, ritual murder, poisoning of wells, and treason, brought hundreds to the stake and drove thousands into exile. They were accused of having caused the inroads of the Mongols, even though they suffered equally with the Christians. When the Black Death swept over Europe in 1348–49, the Jews were accused of well poisoning, and a general slaughter began throughout the Germanic and contiguous provinces, causing a massive exodus east to Poland, where they at first were warmly greeted by the Polish King, forming the future foundations of the largest Jewish community in Europe.
    So it seems there is good reason that any Jews travelled in small families and kept low profiles in medieval times in Germany. Now the problem with all this information is that it relies on the traditional edicts and decisions of many feudal rulers across the empire, and it is difficult to see if the Teutonic Order administrated in the same manner. Furthermore the massacres in this period and killings seem to be popular movements more than any particular nobles deciding they especially dislike Jews, however I am not so versed on the history of the Teutonic Order. I'd say there were many Jews however there would be no massacres on a common scale... however it wouldn't surprise me if it did occur. The medieval mindset and all...
    Last edited by jeffg006; 27-12-2007 at 08:38.
    "As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in mendacious assumptions - such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…- utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead." - H.P. Lovecraft, 1936

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    Premature anti-fascist Abdul Goatherd's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffg006
    Agreed the knights were as anti semitic as any Christian medieval zealot or appointed holy warrior might be. But no more than say, the Templars or the Spanish orders.
    Probably more. Teutonic knights had a blanket ban on Jews living or even traveling through their lands. Period.

    What may have made the TO more adamant may have been the great migration of European Jews from the persecutions in the west into uber-liberal Poland and Lithuania during this time. So, not only by contrast to their neighbors, the TO shows up as especially bigoted, they may have also been particularly eager to ensure none of the arriving Jews spilled over. Add in the Christian fanaticism ingrained in their order and their feudal modes already mentioned, and we get a particularly hostile portrait.
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    Abdul is 1337!

    but thanks guys, it really helps. one last question. when exactly DID the jews first settle in Prussia, Livonia, and Poland north of Warsaw?

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    anyone?

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    The jews spread through the Roman empire, so sometime 600-1200 AD?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ganon
    Abdul is 1337!

    but thanks guys, it really helps. one last question. when exactly DID the jews first settle in Prussia, Livonia, and Poland north of Warsaw?
    First solid jewish settlements were founded in Poland in XII century. Smaller ones are mentioned as existing even in XI century. But if you ask for areas north of Warsaw... those were considered total backwater until XVI century or so. I wouldn't expect them to have mayor settlements there.

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