AbstractSafe conduct functioned in the Middle Ages and in the Early Modern period to provide a particular safety to travelers with proper protection on the one hand; on the other, it was practiced as an authoritative tool for the establishment of income and the control over travelers. Since the 13th century, a development of particular safe-conduct evolved, to which also tax-like dues were inherent. From its beginning, Jews, too, were integrated into this system – both as those receiving safe conduct and, especially in the 14th century, also investors, who leased tax revenues from local lords. Receiving safe-conduct was imperative to Jews in the later periods of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern age because of their mobility for trade and moneylending businesses. From the 14th century on, the social position of the Jews in Germany significantly worsened, and they were increasingly expelled from many cities and territories. Hence, Jews were only allowed to enter specific cities if they paid for the specific safe conduct. Contrary to earlier times, this did not include protection anymore, but merely the permission to enter the city. This essay describes this development by examining several case studies from the 13th to the early 16th centuries. One focus rests on the reign of Emperor Maximilian I, from which stem several revealing cases. From the safe conduct, which was granted to Jews, the term »Judengeleit« (safe-conduct for Jews, often simply called »safe-conduct/Geleit«) was developed in the 14th century, determining the acceptance and the right of abode for Jews in the cities and territories, which were common especially in the western regions of Germany. This phenomenon is discussed in this essay only concerning its formation and not regarding its further development.
Aschkenas – de Gruyter
Published: Jun 8, 2021