What is most like Judaism, Protestantism or Catholicism

Enmity against Jews in the early modern period

The period between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modernity with the French Revolution in 1789 is known as the early modern period. It is considered the high phase of absolutism. During the Renaissance, the humanists rediscovered the values ​​and image of man from antiquity and advocated tolerance, freedom of belief and education. Historically significant events such as the Reformation or the beginning of the Enlightenment fall into this epoch. Christian anti-Judaism, on the other hand, remained powerful and differed only slightly in the countries of Western and Central Europe during this period.

At the beginning of the early modern period towards the end of the 15th century, there was the Spanish Inquisition, whose focus was primarily on Jewish and Muslim people. For them this meant forced baptisms, brutal attacks with numerous victims and ultimately the expulsion of those who were not converted to Catholicism from the Iberian Peninsula.

The medieval stigmatization by special clothing regulations on the part of the Christian environment still applied. Suspected, hostile and persecuted were now increasingly not only direct members of Judaism, but also their descendants and those who were assumed to be of Jewish origin or at least sympathetic to Jews.

Reformation and traditional hostility towards Jews

Since the 13th century, Christian theologians have tried again and again through the disrepute of the Talmud - that collection of legal texts on Jewish culture and way of life, which, alongside the Hebrew Bible, is one of the most important religious sources of Judaism - with out of context and falsified quotations To slander and condemn Judaism. Individual Christian humanists, however, appeared as defenders of Judaism and took the religious traditions of the Jews under protection.

The reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) also initially spoke out against their persecution and contradicted the medieval legends of well poisoning and ritual murder. He hoped that his struggle against the Pope and his advocacy for a renewal of the Church would lead to Jews recognizing Christ as Savior and converting to Christianity in large numbers. When this did not happen, however, Luther himself became an ardent hater of Jews. In 1543 he published the text “About the Jews and their Lies”, in which he attacked Jews in drastic language and called for violence against them. He called for their radical exclusion from the population and emphasized that the baptized Jews in particular pose a great danger. In doing so, Luther resorted to those motives of Christian hostility towards Jews that he had previously rejected.

With the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation as well as the denominational division of Europe in the 17th century, Christianity split into different denominations. There were also increasing differences between the Catholic, Protestant and Reformed forms of Christian hostility towards Jews. In different ways, all equally made use of the reservoir of religious anti-Judaism and aimed at the conversion of Jews. The devastation and the traumatic experiences of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and the subsequent wars of religion ended the claim to validity and rule of a single Christian denomination in the area of ​​the Holy Roman Empire. The trend towards a decrease in religious intolerance did not, however, lead to the traditional Christian hatred of Jews being overcome.

Jews in the Economic Life of the Early Modern Era

Jewish life still depended on the arbitrary favor and tolerance of the respective ruler. While some Jews were already employed as "court agents", mint masters or financial administrators at noble and princely houses in the Middle Ages, they established themselves as "court Jews" or "court factors" in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In particular through the role of some Jewish military and war suppliers in the Thirty Years' War, they advanced to an institution at the European royal courts. Their tasks included, among other things, the procurement of goods and credits or the production of coins. As a useful instrument of the nobility, they contributed significantly to the rise of the modern territorial states. In times of financial crises, however, they were solely responsible for this, and rulers often got rid of accumulated national debts by expelling the “court Jews” along with the other Jews from the country or having them persecuted by force. Their activity in the economic field and the envy of their position at the absolutist courts fueled anti-Jewish prejudices about the supposedly close relationship between 'the Jews' and money.

For social revolts in the lower classes of society against the oppression, the "court Jews" became a welcome projection surface due to their supposed proximity to royal power. In the feudal economy of Eastern Europe, Jewish administrators stood in a similar way between the landlords and the rural population. During the Cossack uprising in the middle of the 17th century, there were cruel massacres of Jews in what is now Ukraine.

Anti-Semitism and the Beginnings of the European Enlightenment

Inspired by the Renaissance, the Reformation and the upheavals of society by the wars of religion, the followers of the Enlightenment began to criticize the traditional "God-willed" order of the corporate society and advocated the freedom and reason given by birth to the individual Maturity as well as tolerance and education.

While large parts of the Catholic Church combined their struggle against the emerging Enlightenment with their aversion to Judaism, however, numerous Protestant clergy invoked the ideas of the Enlightenment in their allegations against Judaism. For them, in contrast to Christianity, Judaism could not be reconciled with the idea of ​​reason. What still united the different Christian denominations towards Jews was their adherence to the principle of conversion.

In the second half of the 18th century the gradual transition from the class to the bourgeois society took place. In the cities in particular, a new social class formed with the bourgeoisie, some of which adopted the ideas of the Enlightenment. This was accompanied by an intense debate about the position and legal status of Jews in society. The demands for social equality of the Jewish minority, such as those made in Prussia in 1781, vehemently rejected both Christian and nationally argued anti-Jews.