The map above gives a very general overview of the legal status of Jews in various major European countries around the year 1500.
Interestingly, the two European countries with the largest Jewish populations today (France: 465,000; UK: 270,000) both had Jewish bans in 1500.
And perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the Muslim Ottoman Empire allowed Jews to live in within it territory, while they were banned throughout much of Western Europe.
Of course Europe in 1500 was far more fragmented than the map above shows and legal bans existed in various cities, towns and villages within countries and empires that allowed Jews to live. Moreover, the quality of life for Jews could vary widely by country and life was not easy in many more “accepting” countries.
The topic is so complex, that it’s best covered by reading a book on the subject. The following are a good place to start:
- The Jews in Christian Europe: A Source Book, 315–1791
- Venice, the Jews, and Europe: 1516-2016
- The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC – 1492 AD
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Map totally incorrect about Lithuania .
In 1500 its was ally with Poland and had same laws,
2nd statistically in Minsk of Lithuania were 20% of jews
Poland had real union with Lithuania from 1569. Earlier the king ruled two separate countries.
Some of these bans remained legally in place for centuries. Spain only did away with its ban in the 1990’s.
Wrong. Spain did away its ban in 1850s at same time of new constitución with freedom of religion.
The map is not correct about Spain. Already existed as a nation in 1500.
Winston Poole says
The status of the Jewish Community has improved a lot due to education.
The ‘ Corbinisters are doing all they can to reverse the progress ‘
Poland was even called ‘paradisus Iudeorum’, ‘paradise of Jews’ tiill the end of the Commonwealth in 1795.
Being a Jew in Poland meant that you are of a different religion, not a different nation. Yet, the Jews had some minority privileges. They lost it all after 1795, as the occupying countries did not maintain those privileges. Especially in the zone occupied by Russia the situation of Jews became really bad.
So for the next hundred years the Western Europe experienced a mass migration of Jews from over there, mostly to Germany, UK, Netherlands and France.
The tensions it had created resulted with the ideas like: The Uganda Project in 1903 by UK, or The Madagascar Plan in 1937 by France. (With Poland ready to take the blame for the execution of the project in exchange for some overseas colonies promised by France)
Later the Madagascar Plan has been taken over by Germany and abandoned in 1940 in favour of a cheaper and more homicidal alternative.