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Joseph II’s Edict of Toleration for the Jews of Lower Austria (January 2, 1782)

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21. Such visitors are accordingly not permitted to trade in objects reserved for specially licensed tradesmen and local tolerated Jews. They, and all others, are also forbidden to peddle in the streets or country districts, under pain of confiscation of the merchandise.

22. Such foreign Jews are, however, permitted to trade at annual fairs in all objects the importation of which is generally permitted and outside the fairs, in objects which can lawfully be sold by any foreign dealer. They are also permitted to buy, accept orders for, etc., permitted objects.

23. The double fees at present paid by Jews on official and judicial transactions are abolished, as are:

24. All present customary distinctive marks and discriminations, such as the wearing of beards, the prohibition on going out before noon on Sundays and holidays, on frequenting public places of amusement, etc., on the contrary, wholesale merchants and their sons, and university graduates, may carry daggers.

25. Since it is Our wish to place the Jewish nation, through these concessions, on a footing of near-equality with the followers of other foreign religions in respect of their occupations and the enjoyment of civic and domestic amenities, We do earnestly exhort them to observe strictly all political, civic, and judicial laws of the land, as applying to them equally with all other subjects, and to submit themselves in their affairs and their public and judicial transactions to the competent Provincial or local authority; and We look to their sense of duty and their gratitude that they do not misuse this Our grace and the freedom deriving from it to cause any public scandal by excesses and loose living, and nowhere to offend the Christian religion, nor to show contempt toward it and its servants; for misconduct of this kind will be most severely punished and will be visited on the offender, according to the circumstances, by expulsion from here and from all Our dominions.

Joseph II
Vienna, January 2, 1782




Source of English translation: C.A. Macartney, ed., The Habsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, in Documentary History of Western Civilization. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper & Row, 1970, pp. 165-69. Introduction, editorial notes, chronology, translations by the editor; and compilation copyright © 1970 by C.A. Macartney. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source of original German text: Johann Wendrinsky, ed., Kaiser Josef II. Ein Lebens- und Charackterbild zur hundertjährigen Gedenkfeier seiner Chronbesteigung [Emperor Joseph II: Biographical and Character Sketch for the Celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of his Accession to the Throne]. Vienna: Wilhelm Braumüller, 1880, pp. 152-57.

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