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The Commander of Imperial Jewry – Josel von Rosheim (c. 1480-1554)

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In the year 5385 (1524/25) there was a tumult among the villagers, who gathered in all parts of Germany and, above all, in this region—Alsace (6). They wished to make themselves masters and it was their intention to devour us alive. The scourge had already begun in certain places. By God's mercy, I came to them at the abbey called Altdorf, and spoke to their hearts with the Book (7), concerning the counsel they should give to the leaders of their forces. They proclaimed loudly that the Jews were not to be harmed and also wrote many letters of safe-conduct for every city and region. Although in the end they went back on and broke their word and written promises; at all events, their public undertaking brought relief and deliverance for the Jews. Then came the time and season of their defeat. The Duke of Lorraine (8) descended upon them and carried out a great slaughter among them. In other territories too thousands and tens of thousands were slain and drowned. Blessed be God who delivered us from their hands and from their evil devices. May He continue to save us. Amen.

In the year 5288 (1527/28), the Landvogtei of Hagenau referred accusations [against the Jews] to King Ferdinand, may he be exalted, and secured his consent to expel us, who are residents of the German Empire, for our places of abode in all the villages, and even from some of the towns. The Unterlandvogt was forced against his will to obtain from the King a decree called an Ordnung. Then all the Jews resident in the region entreated me to go out and come in before them as in the past and I consented to their request. And on account of an accident that befell my horse on the way, I resolved not to ride for the rest of the journey to the King's court, which was situated where it was, but to travel on foot. My reason for this was my hope that with the aid of much toil, prayer and supplication my intercession would succeed. I was obliged to follow the King's court to the holy community of Prague, and there I came in the King's chamber and, with God's help, I found favour in his eyes. He revoked the first decree and gave me a charter which reaffirmed that the Jews should be tolerated as in the past in accordance with the text of our privileges. Although I was authorized to expend up to 300 guilders for all this; in the event, I spent only 40 guilders all in all to cover the cost of my journey there and back to my home and additional expenses. And the adversaries decided to stir up fresh trouble, to undo what had been achieved, but God sent angels of destruction and slew them, three of the ringleaders died in a sudden plague, and the fourth was seized by his enemies in the domain of Hochfelden and put to death. And the land was quiet until this day. Blessed be God who took vengeance for us on our enemies, and saved us from their hands and from the evil designs that they had thought to carry out against us.

In the year 5289 (1528/29), the holy martyrs of Pösing, 36 souls—men and women, youths and young girls—were arrested because of a false accusation made by a mamzer and they died for the sanctification of God's Name. They were burnt at the stake on 13 Sivan 5289 [21 May 1529]. On that occasion, all those Jews in Moravia were taken into custody. In accordance with the request of our rabbis and the exigencies of the hour, I had to bring all the old imperial and papal privileges to the city of Günzburg. There, I prepared copies, which I sent together with words of apology in a booklet to the King and his servants, and they learned that we were innocent. They told the prisoners, "Go forth", and, with the help of God, blessed be He, those who had survived the torture chamber were proclaimed free and released. May God, blessed be He, favour us through the merit of those exalted martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of His Name.

(6) Refers to the German Peasants' War of 1525.
(7) The writer may mean that he convinced the peasants with words from the Old Testament that their view of the Jews was mistaken.
(8) Duke Antoine (1489-1544) of Lorraine, whose invasion in 1525 of Lower Alsace crushed the Peasants' War in that land.

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