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Encyclopedia > Napoleon and the Jews

napoleon tenia un culaso

The rise of Napoleon Bonaparte proved an important event in the emancipation of the Jews of Europe from old laws restricting them to Jewish ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited Jews' rights to property, worship, and careers. Bonaparte as general Napoleon Bonaparte ( 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution and was the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from November 11, 1799 to May 18, 1804, then as Emperor of the French (Empereur des... Dates of Jewish emancipation. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... The name ghetto refers to an area where people from a given ethnic background or united in a given culture or religion live as a group, voluntarily or involuntarily, in milder or stricter seclusion. ...


Napoleon's Law and the Jews

The French Revolution abolished the different treatment of people according to religion or origin that existed under the monarchy; the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen guaranteed freedom of religion and free exercise of worship, provided that it did not contradict public order. At that time, most other European countries implemented measures restricting the rights of people from minority religions. The conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte had the effect to spread the modernist ideas of revolutionary France with respect to the equality of citizens and the rule of law. The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on... Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: Revolutionary patriotism borrows familiar iconography of the Ten Commandments Wikisource has original text related to this article: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: La... The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society. ...

Napoleon's personal attitude towards the Jews is not always clear, as he made a number of statements both in support and opposition to the Jewish people at various times. Historian Rabbi Berel Wein in Triumph of Survival states that Napoleon was primarily interested in seeing the Jews assimilate, rather than prosper as a separate community: "Napoleon's outward tolerance and fairness toward Jews was actually based upon his grand plan to have them disappear entirely by means of total assimilation, intermarriage, and conversion." This ambivalence can be found in some of his first definitively recorded utterances on this subject in connection with the question of the treatment of the Alsace Jews and their debtors raised in the Imperial Council on April 30, 1806. Berel Wein is an American-born Orthodox rabbi, scholar, lecturer, and writer. ...

The net effect of his policies, however, significantly changed the position of the Jews in Europe, and he was widely admired by the Jews as a result. Starting in 1806, Napoleon passed a number of measures supporting the position of the Jews in the French Empire, including assembling a representative group elected by the Jewish community, the Sanhedrin. In conquered countries, he abolished laws restricting Jews to ghettos. In 1807, he made Judaism, along with Roman Catholicism and Lutheran and Calvinist Protestantism, official religions of France. Napoleon rolled back a number of reforms in 1808, declaring all debts with Jews annulled, reduced or postponed, which caused the Jewish community to nearly collapse. Jews were also restricted in where they could live, in hopes of assimilating them into society. These restrictions were eliminated again by 1811. For the tractate in the Mishnah, see Sanhedrin (tractate). ... A ghetto is an area where people from a specific racial or ethnic background live as a group in seclusion, voluntarily or involuntarily. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... The Lutheran movement is a group of denominations of Protestant Christianity by the original definition. ... In an unadorned church, the 17th century congregation stands to hear the sermon. ... Protestantism encompasses the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated with the doctrines of the Reformation. ...

Though Napoleon's personal attitude towards the Jews is not certain, he clearly saw political benefit in supporting them. He hoped to use equality as a way of gaining advantage from discriminated groups, like Jews or Catholics. Both aspects of his thinking can be seen in a response to a physician who asked why he pressed for the emancipation of the Jews, after his exile in 1816:

My primary desire was to liberate the Jews and make them full citizens. I wanted to confer upon them all the legal rights of equality, liberty and fraternity as was enjoyed by the Catholics and Protestants. It is my wish that the Jews be treated like brothers as if we were all part of Judaism. As an added benefit, I thought that this would bring to France many riches because the Jews are numerous and they would come in large numbers to our country where they would enjoy more privileges than in any other nation. Without the events of 1814, most of the Jews of Europe would have come to France where equality, fraternity and liberty awaited them and where they can serve the country like everyone else.

Napoleon and a Jewish state in Palestine

During the siege of Acre in 1799, Napoleon prepared a proclamation declaring a Jewish state in Palestine, though he did not issue it. The siege was lost to the British and the plan was never carried out. Some historians, including Nathan Schur in Napoleon and the Holy Land, believe that the proclamation was intended purely for propaganda purposes, and that Napoleon was not serious about the creation of a Jewish state. Some believe that the proclamation was made in order to win the heart of Haim Farhi, the Jewish advisor to ruler of Acre, Ahmed al Jazzar, and to bring him over to Napoleon's side, as Farhi was the actual commander of the defence of Acre on the field. Combatants England Ottoman Empire France Commanders W. Sidney Smith Napoleon Bonaparte Strength Unknown 8000 Casualties Unknown ~ 2,000 The Siege of Acre of 1799 was a siege of the Turkish-defended, walled city of Acre (now Akko in modern Israel) by Napoleon Bonaparte, future Emperor of France. ... The book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, 1896) by Theodor Herzl. ...

Still, this proclamation in 1799 is counted by some as having historic importance in the history of Zionism, because it was made by the major political power of its time, many years before Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstaat or the Balfour Declaration. Zionism is a political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, where Jewish nationhood is thought to have evolved somewhere between 1200 BCE and late Second Temple times,[1][2] and where Jewish kingdoms existed up to the 2nd century CE. Zionism is... Theodor Herzl, in his middle age. ... Der Judenstaat (German for: The Jewish State) is a book written by Theodor Herzl and published in 1896 in Berlin and Vienna (by M. Breitensteins Verlags-Buchhandlung). ... The Balfour Declaration was a letter dated November 2, 1917 from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation, a private Zionist organization. ...

Napoleon's legacy

Napoleon's indirect influence on the fate of the Jews was even more powerful than any of the decrees recorded in his name. By breaking up the feudal trammels of mid-Europe and introducing the equality of the French Revolution he effected more for Jewish emancipation than had been accomplished during the three preceding centuries. The consistory of Westphalia became a model for other German provinces until after the fall of Napoleon, and the condition of the Jews in the Rhine provinces was permanently improved as a consequence of their subjection to Napoleon or his representatives. Heine and Börne both record their sense of obligation to the liberality of Napoleon's principles of action, and the German Jews in particular have always regarded Napoleon as one of the chief forerunners of emancipation in Germany. When Jews were selecting surnames, some of them are said to have expressed their gratitude by taking the name of "Schöntheil," a translation of "Bonaparte," and legends grew up about Napoleon's activity in the Jewish ghettos. Primo Levi said that the Italian Jews often chose Napoleone as their given name to recognize their liberator. Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (born Chaim Harry Heine, December 13, 1797 – February 17, 1856) was a journalist, an essayist, and one of the most significant German romantic poets. ... Karl Ludwig Börne (6 May 1786 - 12 February 1837; also spelled Boerne) was a German political writer and satirist. ... Primo Levi (July 31, 1919 – April 11, 1987) was a Jewish Italian chemist, Holocaust survivor and author of memoirs, short stories, poems, and novels. ... Look up Appendix:Most popular given names by country in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

See also

Dates of Jewish emancipation. ...


  • Napoleon and the Jews
  • The Enlightenment in Jewish History

External links

  • Napoleon Bonaparte and the Chassid

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