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Prussian Edict: All Unauthorized Jews Should be Driven from the Land Immediately (January 10, 1724)
This edict by the Prussian monarch Frederick William I (“the Soldier King”) (r. 1713-1740) ordered the expulsion of all unvergleitete Juden [Jews without authorization to live in Prussia]. Between the pogroms that followed the “Black Death” of the 14th century (for which Jews were blamed) and Jewish emancipation in the early 19th century, Jews were occasionally granted protected status by German territorial rulers. Jews who enjoyed this privilege – for which they paid annual dues – were known as Schutzjuden [“protected Jews”]. (See the editorial introduction to documents concerning German Jews, Part II.) Prussian policy from the time of Frederick William (“the Great Elector”) (r. 1640-1688) tolerated the presence of a prosperous and economically useful Jewish community, which included such artisans, workers, and servants as were necessary. But the existence of a poor and itinerant Jewish underclass was highly unwelcome and prompted decrees such as this one, whose efficacy may be doubted. Frederick William I was succeeded by Frederick II (“the Great”) (r. 1740-1786), who initiated new legislation concerning Jewish residency. (See editorial introduction to documentation on German Jews, Part II.) Title page of edict, Berlin, January 10, 1724.