Because They Were Jews: A History of Antisemitism

By Meyer Weinberg | Go to book overview

5
FROM JEW TO CITIZEN: FRANCE

When the Germans began their systematic deportation and extermination of Jews in 1942, Vichy's rival antisemitism offered them more substantial help than they received anywhere else in western Europe, and more even than they received from such allies as Hungary and Rumania.

-- Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, 1983

Jews in France suffered the typical afflictions of non-Christians in late medieval Europe. Added to the zeal of religious doctrinaires, the rapacity of secular rulers moved one government after another to hound the Jews. After some six centuries, French Jews began their historic transformation into equal citizens, the first in Europe. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries gave many of them pause about this pursuit of civic status.

During the ninth and tenth centuries, Jews in France acquired legal equality. Early in the ninth century, Charlemagne's son Ludovic ( 824- 840) became "the first Christian monarch to place the Jews under his direct tutelage."1 Jewish merchants were valued assets to the growing kingdom. Jews owned land and participated extensively in agriculture and viticulture. Countryside competitors with these Jews and church prelates pressed in vain for royal outlawry of the ownership of non- Jewish slaves by Jews. The competitors' motives were strictly economic, that is they knew slaves were still essential to farm production, while church prelates feared these slaves would be converted to Judaism, as indeed many were. Church councils were unsuccessful in gaining state approval for their restrictive measures.

According to Leon Poliakov, during the ninth century the Roman Catholic liturgy started treating the Jew as a being apart. At the same

-65-

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Because They Were Jews: A History of Antisemitism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of World History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xviii
  • 1 - A Noahs Ark of Bigotry: Argentina 3
  • Notes 22
  • 2 - A Tradition of Tolerance: Bulgaria 27
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - A Cycle of Centuries: Egypt 33
  • Notes 48
  • 4 - Isolated Fidelity: Ethiopia 53
  • Notes 61
  • 5 - From Jew to Citizen: France 65
  • Notes 79
  • 6 - The Classic Catastrophe: Germany 83
  • Notes 125
  • 7 - On Being Used and Being Useful: Hungary 133
  • Notes 140
  • 8 - Two Destinies in One Land: Italy 143
  • Notes 151
  • 9 - The Continuity of Oppression: Poland 153
  • Notes 167
  • 10 - The Struggle for Civic Status: Rumania 169
  • Notes 179
  • 11 - Long Winters of Dark Nights: Russia/USSR 181
  • Notes 203
  • 12 - The Toleration of Tolerance: United States 207
  • Notes 230
  • 13 - Similarities and Differences 237
  • Notes 244
  • 14 - The World of Antisemitism 245
  • Notes 264
  • Bibliographic Essay 265
  • Index 271
  • About the Author 283
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