Contexts of State Violence: Jewish Expulsions in the Holy Roman Empire
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Description: Policies excluding ethnoracial and religious minorities reinforce the power of political elites. This study addresses an extreme case of exclusion, urban expulsions of Jews in the medieval western Holy Roman Empire. Expulsions were official edicts proclaimed by Christian princes, lords, or town councils, whomever ruled a territory. Changing religious and political culture, in the form of new value on community righteousness and the beginning of territorialization, provided incentives for polities to expel their Jewish residents. Using a new database of Jewish settlement and city development in the Western Holy Roman Empire 1000-1520 CE, I show that the relational structure of political power between Christian elites could insulate or expose Jewish communities to political contests of the time. Jews were derided, lesser members of Christian society, but in spite of increasing focus on Christian piety and legislating community purity, most cities did not expel their Jewish residents. City rulers that did expel were attempting to solve challenges for sovereignty through their policies towards Jews.