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The Treatment of Jews in Byzantium from 476-1453

Laws against Jews a year by year account

Conditions in Constantinople

Under two Prominent Rulers

Justinaian I.
-He interfered with religious customs of the Jews
-Forbade them from celebrating Passover before Christian Easter.
-He remarked that Jews would bring "misfortune to Constantinople as they
for Carthage and Rome.


Heraculious
-Massacred thousands of Jews in Palestine in the course of the war with Persians, then he ordered the remainder of Jews through the empire to be baptized
-No real records of Jewish Community during his reign
- Jews were encouraged by their influence in Heraculious that on one occasion they stormed St. Sophia.


Benjamin of Tudela,
- A rabbi and world traveler gives a very descriptive account of Constantinople gives a very descriptive account of the condition of the Jews in 1176.


Description as follows from primary source.
"No Jew dwells in the city, the Jews having been expelled beyond the one arm of the sea. They are shut in by the channel of Sophia on one side; and they can reach the city by water only, whenever they visit it for the purpose of trade. The number of Jews at Constantinople amounts to two thousand Rabbinites and five hundred Karaites, who live on one spot;but a wall divides them. The principal Rabbinites, who are learned in the Law, are Rabbi R. Abatlion, R. Obadiah, R. Aaron Kustipo, R. Joseph Sargeno, and R. Eliakim the Elder. Many of the Jews are manufacturers of silk cloth; many others are merchants, some of them being extremely rich; but no Jew is allowed to ride upon a horse except R. Solomon ha-Mi?ri, who is the king's physician, and by whose influence the Jews enjoy many advantages even in their state of oppression. This state is very burdensome to them; and the hatred against them is enhanced by the practise of the tanners, who pour out their filthy water in the streets and even before the very doors of the Jews, who, being thus defiled, become objects of hatred to the Greeks. Their yoke is severely felt by the Jews, both good and bad: they are exposed to beatings in the streets, and must submit to all sorts of harsh treatment. But the Jews are rich, good, benevolent, and religious men, who bear the misfortunes of exile with humility. The quarter inhabited by the Jews is called Pera."The king referred to by Benjamin was Manuel Comnenus (1143-80), who-probably owing to the influence of Solomon ha-Mi?ri-placed the Jews of Constantinople again under the jurisdiction of the municipal authorities.


Jewish Attacks on Christianity in Byzantium

- 556; bouts in the Circus in Caesarea, Samaritans and Jewish youths Attacked Christians, Several churches were pillaged and the governor of Palestine was killed

- 608; Antioch, Local Jews rebelled and killed numbers of Christians, proceeded to kill Patriarch Anastasias and dragged his body through the streets.

-Jews were very hostile towards Christiain during this time in one account it was said that Jews did not take money directly from Christians they had to throw their coins in water and then the Jewish Merchant would retrieve them from the water.

-614-Sack of Jerusalem = with the Persian Attack on Palestine led to Jewish attacks on slaughtering Christian neighbors.

-allied themselves with the Persians but this was to no Avail with the driving out from Heraclius in Palestine.

- A Jewish leader was asked why he attacked Christians and he said "Because they were enemies of my religion"



Laws between 300-800 AD Concerning Jews in Byzantium

Under Theodosius I
- Intermarriage between Jews and Christians
- Judaism was a lawful Sect


Western Providence after Theodosious
- Exclusion of Jews from Military and court Service
- Jews may own Christian servants if they do not convert them.
- Jewish converts to christianty may convert to Judiasm


Laws Under Theodosius II
- Jews not to mock the cross
- Jews must not outrage Christianity
- Jews to be exiled for circumcising non-Jews
- New Synagouges not to be built, old ones not to be confiscated


Where are all the Jews?

- Jews in the Khazars from the 7th and 11th century

- Located between Christian Byzantium and the Followers of Muhammad

- Judaism official state religion of Khazars in 740AD

- Located in present day Eastern Russia

- People under Khazar power included, Bulgars, Magayars, and Gothic and Greek tribes of Crimea

- Koestler a scholar of documents of the time states "The Majority of those who professed Judiac faith were Khazars."

- After 12th Century many migrated to Russia and Poland