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European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750$
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Jonathan I. Israel

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774426

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774426.001.0001

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The High Point (III): ‘A Republic Apart’

The High Point (III): ‘A Republic Apart’

(p.151) VIII The High Point (III): ‘A Republic Apart’
European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750

Jonathan Israel

Liverpool University Press

This chapter describes how, politically, as in other ways, the period 1650–1713 marked the culmination of a distinctive Jewish culture within Europe. While Jews, at least in many parts of Europe, had always tended to congregate in their own quarters, the changes of the sixteenth century — the vast expansion of Jewish life in Poland–Lithuania and in the Ottoman lands and the compulsory subjection to the ghetto system in Italy — combined to propagate a much more developed and intricate pattern of Jewish self-government than had existed previously. In the political as in the cultural sphere, perhaps the most striking feature of the general transformation was the large measure of conformity and cohesion applying across the continent. This is not to say that there were no significant divergences as between diverse parts of Europe, but by and large the essential similarities in the institutions of Jewish organized life held true everywhere. Moreover, there was a particularly notable uniformity regarding the chronology of the evolution of Jewish self-rule: practically everywhere the system reached its fullest development after 1650 and then gradually waned as from the early years of the eighteenth century.

Keywords:   Jewish culture, Jews, European Jews, Jewish life, Jewish self-government, Jewish organized life, Jewish self-rule

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