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Jews Invited to Settle in Speyer

In some ways towns and cities in medieval Europe were business enterprises, partly owned by nobles and run for the profit their taxes produced. In the Rhine Valley it was common for large areas of town to be owned by the local bishop.

In 1084, after a fire devastated the Jewish quarter of Mainz, Bishop Rüdiger of the Rhineland town of Speyer invited Jews from Mainz to settle in his town and help stimulate its commercial life. His invitation included a promise of physical safety and, of course, the right to engage in various trade activities.

 

 

In the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. When I wished to make a city out of the village of Speyer, I Rüdiger, surnamed Huotzmann, bishop of Speyer, thought that the glory of our town would be augmented a thousandfold if I were to bring in Jews.

Those Jews whom I have gathered I placed outside the neighborhood and residential area of other burghers. In order that they not be easily disrupted by the insolence of the populace, I have encircled them with a wall. . . .

I have accorded them the free right of exchanging gold and silver and of buying and selling everything they use -- both within their residential area and, outside, beyond the gate down to the wharf and on the wharf itself. I have given them the same right throughout the city . . .

 

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