The Jews of Medieval France: The Community of Champagne

The Jews of Medieval France: The Community of Champagne

The Jews of Medieval France: The Community of Champagne

The Jews of Medieval France: The Community of Champagne

Synopsis

This book studies the Jewish community of Champagne from the fifth century to the expulsion of 1306. It documents the growth and decline of the community, examines its interrelationship with the larger Christian culture, and presents a model for the study of other communities. The economic and political consolidation of the county, coupled with the development of Jewish self-government and a system of education in Talmudic law, were important factors in the growth of Champagne's Jewish community. The subsequent decline of the community in the mid-13th century was also attributable to economic and political factors, as well as a growing Church influence.

Excerpt

I began this work with the premise that a study of Jewish history cannot be undertaken without the fullest understanding of general history and as much knowledge as possible of the religious, political, social, economic, and geographic environment in which Jews lived. I applied this thesis to the province of Champagne, viewing the Champenois Jewish community from many different angles but always within the context of the larger community. This approach has revealed a surprising inter-relatedness between Jews and Christians, and contradicts the usual notion that only the Jews of the Muslim-Spanish world were integrated into the general culture while the Jews of northern Europe were not. in fact, shared attitudes toward other social classes and toward women, ideas about law and tradition, and common feelings about manual labor indicate that the Jews of Champagne accepted many of the more general aspects of popular culture. Jews and gentiles in Champagne also reacted similarly to political authority and to a variety of new ideas and trends.

These are not the only examples of commonality, nor are they unique to Champagne. I firmly believe that research on other Jewish communities will confirm those findings and . . .

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