This chapter examines the tentative readmission of Jewry into western and central Europe from the 1570s onwards that signalled a reversal of trends which had previously prevailed everywhere west of Poland. This post-1570 shift is, without doubt, a historical phenomenon of the first significance. In several ways, it marks the real beginning of modern Jewish history. For, in a matter of a few years, the whole fixed pattern of restricted interaction between western Christendom and the Jews was transformed in a way which continued to shape subsequent development for some two centuries. The transformation in European Jewry's status was rapid, dramatic, and profound, affecting and affected by much else that was then in flux, for at bottom Jewish readmission was merely a symptom of the more general revolution which convulsed and renewed western life and thought at the close of the sixteenth century. Nor did this change in Jewish status occur first in any one place and then spread. On the contrary, it is remarkable that the change of policy toward the Jews is discernible at pretty much the same moment in the Czech lands, Italy, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
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