The period of court absolutism and early capitalism extended from the end of the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. A new world view was created, along with a new type of individual possessing new economic orientations to the marketplace and new social attitudes deriving from such concerns. The unified political and religious world of medieval Europe broke into parts: national differentiation and religious options abounded. The autonomy of the nation-state created a need for new attitudes toward religious minorities, even despised ones such as the Jews.The court Jew phenomenon, as Selma Stern details, was inextricably linked to these larger developments, including the emancipation of Jews as a whole. Dr. Stern's work is an effort to reconstruct this unusual group of Jews who became politically and economically influential and through that mechanism were able to enhance Jewish community life as a whole. In his very existence the court Jew necessarily enlarged, beyond its original meaning, the concept of free expression in European societies.As the dominating idea of defending one church and one emperor collapsed under the weight of the new European system of power balances, a new conception of the Jew developed, one of a transforming agent in economic and political positions. With trade no longer condemned as sinful, collecting interest for loans no longer prohibited, and the merchant no longe'r compared to a thief, the Jewish money changer and tradesman came to be viewed in a more favorable light. In this new environment, the claims of Christianity remained supreme, but the rights of religious minorities were considered.At the time of the book's initial appearance, the Saturday Review hailed it as a "picturesque work giving evidence of great writing talent." The reviewer went on to note that "Dr. Stern's work provided exhaustive historical background of European Jewry - from 1650 to 1750 - that period during which the modern European genius emerged." Dr. Stern's work relies heavily upon European archives up to 1938, when the advances of Nazism made further work impossible. As a result, what was started in Europe was completed in America.
Table of Contents
Preface, Introduction, The period of absolutism. The new concept of the State. The idea of Staatsraison. The change in the form of the State. The change in European economy. Mercantilism. The change in the conception of the Jew. The change in his legal, political and economic position. The Jew as a political problem. Germany after the Thirty Years’ War. The German princes and their attitude toward the Jew. The German merchant. The alliance between the princes and the Jewish entrepreneurs. The rise of the Court Jew. His functions. The Court Jew as an indispensable innovation of Absolutism., CHAPTER I, The Commissary, The period of Louis XIV. The European wars. Emperor Leopold I of Austria. The tasks of his administration. The Austrian State. The War of Devolution. Samuel Oppenheimer’s appointment as War Commissary. His activity in the war of the Empire against France. Disillusionment. His contribution in the war against the Turks and in the War of the Palatine Succession. Difficulties. The attitude of the Emperor, the generals, the officials. Oppenheimer’s indispensability. His credit. Cardinal Kollonitsch’s attempt to overthrow him. His contribution in the War of the Spanish Succession. The reasons for his success. His personality. His business system. Contractors and agents. Oppenheimer’s death. The catastrophe of the Austrian State. Oppenheimer’s successors. The war commissaries of the German princes. Israel Aron and Elias Gumperts in Prussia. Abraham Maendle and Anschel Levy in Bavaria. Jud Suess in Wuerttemberg. The hazardous position of the contractors. The importance of the Jewish war commissioners., CHAPTER II, The Court Contractor, The German princes at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. The Court as the political and cultural center of the country. The tolerance of some of the rulers. The craving for luxuries. The international connections of the Court Jews. The Jewish private banker. Luxury goods and banking as the basis of the Court Jews' activity. The