The Methodology of this work may change as we learn more about Jewish discrimination around the globe and over its several thousand year history. Here is our current methodology.
A. This work uses the following terms interchangeably:
- Official Anti-Jewish Acts
- Official Acts
B. Official Anti-Jewish Acts for this work are defined as:
“Official Acts against Jews (in some cases against Jews and others), that were in effect for at least a moment in time. Such Official Acts include, but are not limited to, Official Acts issued by governments, militaries and churches, proclamations, church canons, bulls, patents, ordinances, and final court decisions (such as those on the level of a country’s Supreme Court).”
- Each Act must have been created by government, military and church laws from ruling religions; Acts from these ruling institutions differ in name and type, but may include church canons, church bulls, patents, ordinances, writs, and final court decisions (such as those on the level of a country’s Supreme Court).
- Acts must be Anti-Jewish on their face. Such Acts often limit the work, travel, congregation, earnings of Jews, but not others. Other such Acts cause Jews to pay more in official taxes or fines or fees, or punish Jews or expel them in excess of such punishments of others.
Such Official Anti-Jewish Acts include:
- “Announcements” of the Royal Court Chancellor’s Office (Hofkanzlei-Bescheid) – Hofkanzlei-Bescheid were announcements of official laws issued by the Royal Court Chancellor’s Office (“Hofkanzlei”) made by the ruler himself/herself or on his/her behalf. The “Hofkanzlei” was the main legal administrative office of royal rulers in German speaking countries, including Austria. In Austria, the Royal Court Chancellor’s Office could also function as the highest legal entity/court of law. [Researcher’s note] (Please also see “Bescheid”)
- Bescheid – In administrative law, a “Bescheid” is a specific decision/notification/order issued by the administrative authority in either Germany or Austria which is to be followed by all legal entities (citizens/subjects). It is usually written in a specific form and can contain one or more administrative acts and/or regulations. [Researcher’s note]
- Canons – “An ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope.” (dictionary.com, 5/28/2016)
- Circulars (Circulare) – Official public announcements in written form. They could be used by the government to publicize laws, regulations, orders and/or new legal positions. Circulars were commonly used by governments during the 18th and 19th centuries, especially in and around Austria. [Researcher’s note]
- Danish Chancellery – (Danish: Danske Kancelli) From 1665 to 1848, Denmark was an absolute monarchy, i.e., the king had unlimited power, unrestrained by courts, law, or any sort of parliament. During that time, the Danish Chancellery was the administrative and communications office for the king, and when it would respond to a petition or inquiry with a “rescript.” These formal letters, just as all other communications of the Chancellery, always represented the monarch and thus were the law of the land, without any option of appeal. [Researcher’s note]
- Decrees – “An official order given by a person with power or by a government.” (merriam-webster.com, 5/28/2016)
- Decretal – “A papal [of or relating to a pope or to the Roman Catholic Church] letter giving an authoritative decision on a point of canon law.” (merriam-webster.com, 10/1/2017)
- Hofbescheid – A “Hofbescheid” was an order/announcement (“Bescheid”) of the Royal Court in German speaking territories (including Austria). This could be an order/announcement issued by the ruler (king/emperor/prince) himself or on his behalf. “Hofbescheid” disappeared along with the ruling royal families in Europe. [Researcher’s note] (Please also see “Bescheid.”)
- Intimation (German: “Intimat”; Latin: “Intimatio”) – A public legal announcement usually in the form of a court notice, a summons (of one or more persons), or a subpoena. An “Intimat” was a legally binding order. [Researcher’s note]
- Jewish-Privileges (“Judenprivileg”) – Jewish-Privileges are historically known legal sources in which the civil liberties (and often restrictions) of Jews were determined and regulated in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. [Researcher’s note] (Please also see “Privileges”)
- Letter/Writ of Protection (Schutzbrief) – Official documents/letters given to selective Jews which permitted them to settle in a certain territory and to enjoy a number of privileges—usually in exchange for large payments in the form of taxes or liens. [Researcher’s note]
- Liber PoeNintentialis – “[A] book with Christian codes of canons relating to penance and their imposition. The rules contained in this book are similar to the canons that were issued during the ‘Councils/Synods’ of certain cities during the Roman Empire and later in the Holy Roman Empire.” [Researcher’s note]
- Maiestas Carolina (Majesty Carolina) – “Legal code issued by Charles IV to govern Bohemia.” [Researcher’s note]
- Ordinance – “A law or regulation made by a city or town government.” (Merriam-Webster.com, 5/28/2016)
- Present-day – Some Official Anti-Jewish Acts come from regions that no longer exist and when that happens, we add a modern day country or countries that roughly equate to the region of the original country/geography where the Act existed. [Researcher’s note]
- Papal Bull – A formal proclamation issued by the Catholic pope. “So called because a lead bulla or seal was attached to the Pope’s edict by a cord.” (Dictionary.com, 5/28/2016)
- Patents/Edict of Tolerations (Toleranzpatent) – Patents of tolerations were official laws passed by a number of the Habsburg and/or Roman Emperors/Empresses. These usually contained a number of privileges for non-Catholics, particularly Jews, but contained very serious restrictions as well. [Researcher’s note]
- Penitent book – A book of code of canons relating to penance, its imposition etc. A penitent book could technically pertain to any church—but in the Middle Ages referred to a book of canons of the Catholic church. [Researcher’s note]
- Privileges (law) – Privileges refer to the entitlement of a set of privileges/laws (which could also include restrictions) given to a certain group by a state government or ruler—often on a conditional basis which could be revoked anytime. Etymologically, privilege—or Latin “privilegium”—refer to laws relating to individuals or a specific group. [Researcher’s note]
- Proclamation – A public announcement of a rule, law or advisory. This book adds proclamations that create a law. [Researcher’s note]
- Regesta – Official, historical (Papal) letters and documents from the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period; or publications containing such documents commonly kept in chronological order with essential summaries of important passages. In English, they are also often referred to as a “calendar.” [Researcher’s note]
- Regierungsbescheid – A “Regierungsbescheid” is an order/announcement (“Bescheid”) of the government in German speaking domains (including Austria). [Researcher’s note] (Please also see “Bescheid.”)
- Rescript – (latin: rescriptum) – An official rule of law or announcement by a monarch or (Roman-Catholic) church. It could be issued by the head of the state as a response to a formal inquiry or in order to clarify a point of law—sometimes after formal consultation with the magistrate. In canon law, it could be the ad hoc reply of a pope to a specific question or canon law. In German, “Reskript” is known as an “official decision/announcement,” an “administrative act” or “legal order.” [Researcher’s note]
- Royal Ordinance – Ordinances issued by “heads of states,” Lords, or royals who held reign over a special territory. [Researcher’s note]
- Seemingly Solid Reference – These are references that may not come from a direct Official source, but from an Official historical publication (such as The Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire (300-428) by James Everett Seaver, or The History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal by Elias H. Lindo) in which an Act was mentioned by a historian or in a collection of Acts from a reliable source. [Researcher’s note]
- “Tolerance” Licences – Permits given to certain Jews—mostly in return for a substantial (annual/special) payment/taxes. Tolerance licences were issued by (royal courts of any) German speaking country—though often by the Austrian royal court. [Researcher’s note]
- Toleranzpatent – The term “Toleranzpatent” or “Toleranz-Circulare” describes a German-language royal decree or edict issued by the emperor Joseph II. (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek—InfoDesk, 5/31/2016)
- Ukase – A ukase, or ukaz (Russian for “imposition”), in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader (patriarch) that had the force of law. “Edict” and “decree” are adequate translations using the terminology and concepts of Roman law. [Researcher’s note]
- Writ – A “formal order under seal, issued in the name of a sovereign, government, court, or other competent authority, enjoining the officer or other person to whom it is issued or addressed to do or refrain from some specified act.” (dictionary.com, updated 8/6/2020)
- Würfelzoll – A “dice-tax” was a special Jewish “Leibzoll” (“body tax”) in the Middle Ages that lasted all the way up to the 17th century. [Researcher’s note]
- Zollordnung – The closest translation would be “Toll/Customs Ordinance.” [Researcher’s note]
- Online books used as sources will not contain the link to the source (as links break, are taken down or change), but the title of the work will be listed along with a note such as “Accessed online” and date accessed.
- The listing of sources, and the page numbers noted on various Acts sourced from books and other published works, may vary by publisher and edition.
- Although some Official Acts have been obtained from books, and they are sourced, the text of some Acts are sometimes summaries or paraphrases of the actual Official Act from a seemingly reputable archival document. Those archival documents may include, for example, the “Collection of all Ordinances issued in the Grand-Archduchy of Mecklenburg,” an archival document of the court library of Munich; “Collection of Ordinances in the Kingdom of Bavaria” on the State Archive of Bavaria website; or “Repertorium (Collection) of all Ordinances issued in the Archduchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz” digitized on the State Archive of Berlin website.
- In such cases, a researcher note will follow when we have obtained a summarized version or a paraphrase of an Official Act from one of these publications and not from the actual document itself. Reputable and respected publications include those from government archives, libraries, universities, historical societies, royal archives, papal archives and other sources to be determined.
- The Language Translator’s name and date Researched/Translated are added when available.
- Some translations in this work were done by non-certified translators.
This work’s English translations of Official Acts in other languages are usually of these basic types:
- An as-close-as-possible, word-for-word translation of the original official source, which may vary by translator.
- Paraphrasing from original text—these are not direct translations but meant to smooth out language differences without losing the intent of the original text or Act.
- Google Machine or other automated translation (machine translation [MT]). Some have said that such translations are about 80% accurate, depending on the algorithms of the software and the language translated. (Google itself notes: “…one must remember that, especially for low-resource languages, automatic translation quality is far from perfect,” according to its Recent Advances in Google Translate, ai.googleblog.com accessed 12/7/2020).
- The quality of translations can materially change or alter the meaning of words, ideas or concepts.
F. Rules for Accepting Official Anti-Jewish Acts
- If the researcher needs to explain why the words of an Act are Anti-Jewish, that Act as written or translated should be better explained or not included in this project.
Acts usually not included in this project:
- Acts that only refer to one Jew or a few Jews that seem to be based on specific facts applicable to a specific event or person(s).
- A law banning Hebrew as a language in certain schools, unless it’s aim is Anti-Jewish.
- Laws that are directed at Jews but on their face don’t seem specifically anti-Jewish. Examples are a law from 4/25/1850 regarding “the administration of oaths to Jews,” or a 5/4/1331 writ for the dukes to “enjoy the Jews” (depending on what enjoy means) as part of their privileges.
- Acts that exclude Jews and others, such as a 1388 law stating that “Christians must not dwell within the quarters assigned to Jews and Moors…”; An oath in the 1776 Constitution of Maryland that required “…a declaration of his belief in the Christian religion.”
- Acts that exclude “foreign” Jews and others within a country because it is not uncommon for foreigners to be banned from engaging in the same privileges granted citizens.
G. The term “Israeli”
Was used to refer to the Jewish people throughout history before the State of Israel was formally established in 1948. “The name Israel derives from the name given to Jacob…So, the names Israel, Israeli or Jewish refer to people of the same origin,” according to the Israel Science and Technology website on 9/8/2020.
Other definitions for the term “Israeli,” according to multiple sources on 9/8/2020, include: “a native or inhabitant of the republic of Israel…First Known Use of Israeli…1948” (merriam-webster.com); “A native or inhabitant of Israel, or a person of Israeli descent.” (lexico.com); “‘citizen of the state of Israel,’ 1948…It distinguishes the citizens of the modern state from the ancient people who had been known in English since 14c. as Israelites” (etymonline.com).
Given that some Official Acts are lengthy, for brevity, some of their content has been eliminated with the use of ellipses to denote Official text has been removed, while leaving the more pertinent Anti-Jewish components of such Acts.
I. Geography of Acts
- It is difficult, if not impossible, to find Present-day equivalents of the geography of some Acts. For example, the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia changed boundaries over the years. This project attempts to add the Present-day geographical equivalents to the Acts.
- In many of the older Acts, this work quotes a Present-day country in brackets, but it is clear that over the years the geography of countries may have changed and sometimes the boundaries of a Present-day country are only an approximate outline of its previous borders.
- During the time from B.C.E. to the present, countries and empires have risen and fallen, expanded and contracted. This work attempts to equate the geography of those acts when they happened to Present-day countries whenever possible, although many Acts contain references to more than one Present-day country. Acts are either counted by their original region or the first Present-day country listed.
- The Roman Empire is among those countries/empires for which researchers attempted to find a Present-day equivalent. According to reference.com on 3/30/2020: “The modern countries of Portugal, Spain, Andorra, England, France, Monaco, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, San Marino, Malta, Austria and the Czech Republic. In addition, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Lybia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were all part of the Roman Empire. Not all were in the empire simultaneously. The Roman Empire as a whole spanned hundreds of years, and territorial boundaries shifted during that time.” If a Present-day country could not be identified, the Act will show (example) [Roman Empire; Some overall Present-day countries include Italy, Spain, England, France, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt].
J. Nazi-Era Acts
- Nazi era, for this work, is defined as beginning in 1933 and continues to the end of 1945, during which time Adolf Hitler reportedly committed suicide and German representatives surrendered on 5/7/1945.
- This work currently includes only a small number of Nazi Anti-Jewish Acts. Research on the British Library website has turned up references to approximately 2,000 Anti-Jewish Acts from this German period. However, local German Anti-Jewish Acts of exceptional note have been added on a case-by-case basis when found.
- National Nazi-era Acts issued in German-occupied or controlled countries will be recorded as issued under German occupied rule but with the Occupied or controlled country, too. For example, Nazi Germany occupied Norway from 1940 until 1945 and Official Anti-Jewish Acts issued in that country were issued by a regime controlled by the Nazi Party, so the designation of that Act would be [Germany / Occupied Norway].
- The term non-Aryan is ill-defined. Some believe that the term non-Aryan included many races, nationalities and religions, even though the Restoration of the Civil Service of 4/7/1933, passed by the Nazi regime defined non-Aryan “basically” as Jews. Official Acts that only reference non-Aryans have not been added to this work unless the word Jews or Israelis was specifically mentioned.
K. Dating the Acts
All Acts have year, month and day or they are probable or possible Acts.