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Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France

Frances Malino

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France* FRANCES MALINO In a sermon of ethical rebuke preached to the congregation of Metz in 1744, Rabbi Jonathan Eybesch?tz chastised the young for performing their religious obligations in a superficial and mechanical way, and bemoaned the seductive powers of greed.1 More than half a century later, Zalkind Hourwitz, renegade Polish Jew and French revolutionary, accused the 'rich and devout' syndics (lay leaders) of Metz of fearing the suppression of the Jewish quarters because they possessed many homes there which they rented most dearly to their poor co-religionists. They also feared, Hourwitz admitted with equal annoyance, that their children would imitate the 'abominations' of the Christians, for example by attending the theatre, cutting their beards and dressing fashionably.2 Gl?ckel of Hameln, a woman of great piety and extraordinary business acumen, also bemoaned the ways of the rich, but unlike Hourwitz she ascribed their sins not to economic oppression and superstitious belief but rather to spiritual laxity. When she first arrived, she confided in later years in her memoirs, Metz was a noble and pious community. The parnassim were all worthy men who verily adorned the council room. No one in the council room wore a perruque, and no one heard of a man going out of the 'Judengasse' to bring a case before a Gentile tribunal. No such arrogance reigned in the old days as now.3 How accurate are these descriptions of greed, arrogance, exploitation of the poor and acculturation within the non-Jewish world? Successful homiletics often rely on drama; Zalkind Hourwitz, for his part, never abandoned hyperbole, especially when it served his cause. Gl?ckel of Hameln, however, suggests a direction of inquiry beyond the impressionistic. In the present investigation, we shall examine legal cases between Jews which took place outside the confines of the Jewish community, as well as other litigations involving Jews and non-Jews. We shall conclude with an assessment of our three witnesses and the significance of their accusations. The city of Metz has failed to attract many historians to its past. To be sure, garrison cities are rarely joyful and France knew many wars in the * Paper presented to the Society on 21 July 1988. A version of this paper appears in Bernhard Blumenkranz (ed.) Les Juifs en France au i8e siecle (Paris 1989). 55</page><page sequence="2">Frances Malino late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Metz, nevertheless, boasted a beautiful cathedral, a fine square, a Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (to which Robespierre would submit an essay) and a Parlement which, although instituted only in 1633, had succeeded in making the area both French and significantly Catholic.4 Jewish historians, on the other hand, have focused considerable attention on Metz.5 Established by royal Lettres Patentes in 1574, the Metz nation justifiably took pride in its reputation as the leading Jewish community in Eastern France. Its rabbinical school attracted students from the East as well as the West, and its rabbis were among the most brilliant of their generation. The wealthy oligarchy supplied grain and horses to the government, as well as much-needed credit; the poor found themselves peddling used clothing and lending money to non-Jews who were themselves no less poverty-stricken.6 It is said, however, that they also marketed a most delicious goose pate. All resided in the Jewish quarter of the city, and only there could they own property. From its inception, the Metz nation had a tightly organized communal structure reinforced by a juridical autonomy consistently affirmed in royal Lettres Patentes.7 In order to maintain discipline within the community, the syndics had at their disposal a multitude of fines, and for the most extreme cases?which included bringing complaints against fellow Jews to non-Jewish authorities or courts?excommunication. This deprived the guilty of the services of the community and of all relations, even commercial, with co-religionists. Our first cases are among the most important to come before the Metz Parlement. They involve three women living in Metz in the middle third of the eighteenth century: Merle, daughter of the wealthy Isaac Spire Levy and wife of the unsuccessful Joseph Worms; Madeleine, recently betrothed daughter of the late Bernard Cahen; and Rozette, widow of the banker Bernard Spire Levy. These cases led to a parlementary arret demanding that a compendium of Jewish law and tradition be compiled and translated, and most significantly to another arret denying the rabbi the right to excommunicate those Who sought adjudication in the royal courts. The cases defended these women's rights, accused the Jewish leadership of 'despotism' and elicited eloquent defences from a community whose juridical autonomy suffered immeasurable damage. Sometime in the spring of 1739, Merle, wife for thirty years of Joseph Worms, died.8 On 2 December 1739 the Lieutenant-General of the bailliage court of Metz upheld Merle's will. Joseph Worms was deprived of his wife's property as well as the guardianship of his children. Somehow, at least according to Joseph Worms, the rabbi had been silenced and he, Worms, was left without support from the community. His cause was unique, Worms declared, and had never been tested in any jurisdiction. Can a Jewish woman, 56</page><page sequence="3">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France living with her husband, disinherit her husband, and deprive him of his guardianship? Can an ordinance from the Lieutenant-General upholding this behaviour be sustained? Merle had apparently wished to leave Worms years before, but her father had persuaded her to remain with her husband. Her father was now dead and her eldest brother Olry headed the family. The Spire Levys were, if not the wealthiest, then certainly among the wealthiest of the 3000 Jews living in Metz.9 In her will, Merle informed her husband that since he had consumed her dowry and all the resources she had received from her father, she had used her 'acquired freedom' (derived from the separation of her property from that of Worms) to leave him nothing. Worms defended himself against the accusations of his deceased wife. To be sure, he had not succeeded in certain enterprises, and had found it expensive to extricate himself. But how much had it cost him during thirty years of marriage to nourish and raise a number of children, care for their perpetual illnesses, and in particular those of his wife! Question the rabbi and the officials or any other Jews deemed appropriate, Worms concluded. Never will you learn that a woman has the right to make a will (her pride and vengeance would only cause trouble in the family), nor for that matter is it possible, by law and custom of the Jews, to deprive a father of the guardianship of his children.10 Joseph Worms was legally correct. Merle asserted a right which she did not have. Jewish law explicitly states that the husband is heir to his wife and takes precedence over all other heirs?even to the detriment of her relatives.11 Olry Spire Levy and his brother Moyse (later to appear in the case of Rozette) supported and perhaps even instigated their sister's independent behaviour. Much was at stake, for they would undoubtedly benefit from Worms' disinheritance. Why the rabbi and syndics remained silent during this conflict may relate to Worms' inability to stay out of financial trouble, but it most probably also reflected the influence of Olry Spire Levy, one of the syndics of the community. Worms recognized this when he accused Olry of having thrown Merle into confusion, deprived her of anyone who could have given her advice, and obtained through 'subtlety' and 'contrivance' the prohibition (specifically directed against the rabbi) to interfere in the affairs of the family. Merle, of course, cannot satisfy us concerning her brothers' role; her determination, however, to disinherit her husband and deprive him of guardianship of their children (non-Jewish guardians had been appointed) met hesitation from the Parlement of Metz. Unsure of Jewish law and tradition, yet determined to limit significantly the juridical autonomy granted the Jews of Metz in the royal Lettres Patentes of 1718, the Parlement ordered on 29 August 1740 a compendium in French of Jewish customs and practices.12 The compendium would complement those of other communities such as Verdun and Toul. It took two and a half years to appear, and occasioned its own 57</page><page sequence="4">Frames Malino disputes and problems between the Jewish community and the Parlement, and the Parlement and the crown.13 The decision in the Worms case (which unfortunately remains unknown) thus could not have been reached before 1743. In the meantime, however, the nation met resistance from a community member who challenged not Jewish law but rather the juridical authority of the syndics. Madeleine Bernard Cahen, on the eve of her marriage, had a simple request. She demanded from her guardians her dowry of 3600 livres (250 livres were enough to keep a family of rural weavers alive for 1 year) and 30 'onces' of silver vessels left her by her father in a notarized document of 1731. Her request, however, led to controversy within the community, a decision in her favour from the bailliage court, an investigation by the Parlement and royal conseiller, and accusations by the syndics that Madeleine was beset by 'fantasies'.14 Rather than give her the dowry, Madeleine's guardians had suggested that she, her mother (with whom she was living in the country) and her brother appear before the syndics of the community. Quite possibly the syndics, one of whom (Isaac Cahen) happened also to be Madeleine's guardian, hoped to persuade Madeleine to take a smaller dowry, or perhaps even to delay her marriage. Neither Madeleine nor her mother honoured the syndics' invitation. Although he came, her brother would only say that he never involved himself in the affairs of his sister. With the brother's 'indifference' and the purported, although highly unlikely, indifference of the syndics, the case left the jurisdiction of the community. Madeleine appealed to the bailliage, where she obtained a judgement against her guardians. Shortly thereafter she appeared before the Parlement asserting that her excomunication by the syndics made impossible the execution of the bailliage decisions. The syndics, for their part, denied they had excommunicated Madeleine. She was, they said, suffering from 'visions' and 'idle fancies'. The Parlement demanded that Madeleine prove the reality of the excommunication, and Madeleine responded by requesting her lawyer to have it declared 'loudly' and 'publicly' in the two synagogues that there existed no excommunication against her and that all Jews could aid her in the execution of the bailliage decision. These events filled the month of June 1742. Why did the syndics feign indifference concerning Madeleine's dowry, when at least one of them had everything to gain from a diminution; and why did they deny excommunication, when such punishment regularly accompanied bringing cases between Jews before a non-Jewish court? Madeleine was a woman, hence the accusations of fantasy and illusion. Such allegations did little, however, to address the real issue, namely Madeleine's defiance of syndical authority as well as that of her guardians. Two separate issues converged at a most difficult time for the syndics. For 58</page><page sequence="5">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France Madeleine, of course, the most important matter concerned her dowry and marriage. Her determination to seek support from the bailliage, however, came during the months when the Parlement was awaiting the compendium it had requested from the Jews, and the Jews hoped to avoid compliance. The syndics would not want to draw any attention to problems within the community and certainly would go to great lengths to contain disputes. If the syndics had not actually excommunicated Madeleine, they undoubtedly had threatened her with excommunication, probably hoping that this would deter her from further action. Now the Parlement could use this case as further evidence of a need to restrict the juridical rights of the community. In their defence against Madeleine's accusations, the syndics 'humbly' requested that Parlement support them in their enjoyment of their privileges, especially those concerning disputes between Jews. The syndics clearly understood their vulnerability and feared the ParlemenVs intentions. One would like to believe that Madeleine received her dowry, married and lived happily ever after. Perhaps so. The issues raised, however, were not so easily put to rest. The fears of the syndics, if not their tactics, were justified. During the next fifteen years they struggled to retain their juridical autonomy in the face of numerous threats from the Parlement and only partial support from the crown. The Parlement had issued a final arret, demanding that the nation obtain royal confirmation of its compendium of Jewish law and tradition, just as the case of Rozette (Reizlah) of Alsace had reached its court. More than any before or after, this case, involving many thousands of livres and a determined widow, challenged the authority of the rabbi and syndics and ended the patience of the Parlement. The characters in the case of Rozette vs. Moyse Spire Levy are many, the issues complex, the documents scattered and often complex, and the final judgements profoundly significant even if honoured in the breach.15 Bernard Spire Levy, husband of Rozette and brother of Merle, had instigated the conflict by bequeathing his considerable wealth to the one person who was not, and could not be his legal heir. In his wills of 30 June 1740 and 27 January 1758, Bernard Spire Levy named his wife Rozette as universal heir. Jewish law entitled Rozette to the amount specified in her marriage contract and the capital worth of her dowry. According to Metz Jewish custom, she retained as well a room in her deceased husband's home with a chimney and a place for two cords of wood.16 With neither sons nor daughters, the legal heirs of Bernard Spire Levy were his brother, Moyse (a wealthy banker who also had a banking house in Paris, rue Beaubourg), as well as his cousins and nephews. The syndics could have honoured Bernard Spire Levy's request by ruling that it was a mitzvah (commandment) to carry out the wishes of the deceased. 59</page><page sequence="6">Frances Malino Instead, on 10 and 17 April 1758, while acknowledging certain 'equivocal terms' in the wills, they judged that the defunct Bernard Spire Levy merely named Rozette as administrator and only until the distribution of the estate. If the legal heirs voluntarily neglected to give Rozette her due, the syndics and rabbi added, she could always be nourished at the expense of the estate. As for the 30,000 livres Bernard Spire Levy had bequeathed to Quintheline, the wife of Nathan Gompertz and most probably Bernard's sister, the syndics ordered both Quintheline and her husband to appear before the rabbi and deputies on the first moon. Failure to answer the summons carried a fine of 300 livres to be given to the poor. Rozette's feelings about the ruling of the syndics can only be surmised from subsequent events. With her husband's large and influential family arrayed against her as the legal heirs, and with the support of her brother, she demanded that the ceremony of Halizah (release from the levirate tie requiring marriage of the widow to her brother-in-law) take place before the distribution of the estate and her abdication as administrator.17 Moyse Spire Levy balked, pretended (according to Rozette) to go through with the ceremony and turned for legal support to the bailliage. Had Rozette planned all along to contest the syndics' judgement once she had obtained the Halizah, or did she become more intransigent and more rebellious with Moyse's refusals? Moyse certainly believed the former and fought to assure his inheritance before he released his sister-in-law from her obligation to marry him. The syndics, meanwhile, appeared as witnesses on his behalf before the bailliage. Rozette appeared alone. On 17 May 1758 the bailliage found in favour of Moyse and ordered the syndical judgements on 10 and 17 April to be ratified and executed.18 Rozette may have been willing to forgo her position as universal heir, but for good reason refused to do so without the Halizah which at least assured her the inheritance specified in her marriage contract. The Parlement heard her appeal in early June and condemned Moyse to pay 100 livres damages each day he delayed the Halizah. Time and again during the following weeks, the parties were* called together to compromise, the frustrated rabbi threatened excom? munication, and Moyse spoke of the 'pesterings' of Rozette. Neither Moyse nor Rozette acquiesced in each other's requests, their agreements to do so notwithstanding.19 If Rozette had been willing to accede to the decisions of the rabbi and syndics, she ceased to be so by the end of July. On 2 August, Rabbi Hellman received a court summons requiring that the ceremony of Halizah take place on 8 August. The syndics responded to the summons by excommunicating Rozette and her supporters. Rabbi Hellman refused to proceed with the ceremony and gave no indication when, if ever, it would take place.20 Arbitration and the call for compromise had given way to mutual defiance. 60</page><page sequence="7">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France The rabbi's behaviour showed a spirit of 'independence' and 'revolt', Rozette charged in her final appeal to the Parlement.21 Arrogating to himself an 'absolute despotism', he defied the court and denied her the freedom to obtain justice. This she now sought under the protection of king and court as she demanded that Moyse honour the act of Halizah, that the syndics lift the excommunication, and that the wills of Bernard Spire Levy be executed according to their forms and terms. Moyse and putative legal heirs were to pay all damages and fees. Moyse Spire Levy's fears that the widow would 'plague' him in his position as heir had finally been realized. On 18 August 1759, Jean Baptiste Mathieu delivered the Parlemenfs response by hand to Rabbi Hellman.22 Everything Rozette requested had been granted. The lifting of the excommunication against her and those who aided her, the ceremony of Halizah and the execution of the wills of Bernard Spire Levy, with Rozette as universal heir, must now take place. The Parlement added a final touch: the rabbi was to obey and carry out the provisions of the arret under pain of corporal punishment. Two witnesses attested that Rabbi Hellman received the document. Six audiences later, and with three lawyers representing Rozette, Moyse Spire Levy and Quintheline, the Parlement issued its final decree.23 In addition to finding in favour of Pvozette and honouring the request of Quintheline, the Parlement, in agreement with the Procureur General, denied to the rabbi of Metz any future use of excommunication against those who sought adjudication in royal courts. The rabbi would be personally accountable. The acts of any Jews who stipulated excommunication, moreover, were rendered legally null and void.24 The specific case of Rozette Spire Levy would soon be forgotten, but not so the terms of the 1759 arret. If implemented, no means of enforcing rabbinic jurisdiction remained in the hands of the Jewish leadership. If implemented, the juridical autonomy of the Metz nation in fact no longer existed. Without approval by the crown and with no officially sanctioned compendium of Jewish law and tradition, the Parlement saw itself virtually replacing the rabbis and lay judges of the Metz nation. The syndics, of course, would appeal against the ParlemenVs arret and ignore its prohibition of excommunication. The king finally announced (in 1767) that Rabbi Arie Loew, who had succeeded Rabbi Hellman one year before, was to continue to enjoy the privileges granted in the Lettres Patentes of 1715 and 1718.25 Recalcitrant Jews, however, would continue to seek support from the royal court. Before returning to the rebellious among the Jews of Met?, what can we conclude concerning eighteenth-century Jewish women in Metz from the cases of Merle, Madeleine and Rozette? How independent, for example, were these three women? All had brothers supporting them, and in the case of Merle he would benefit from decisions made in her favour. Only at her death did Merle 61</page><page sequence="8">Frames Malino defy her husband, and, incidentally, Jewish law as well as Metz Jewish custom. She never, however, defied the authority of the syndics. Her wealthy and powerful family, moreover, clearly facilitated, if not actually instigated, her disinheritance of Joseph Worms. Madeleine, on the other hand, had no support from the community leaders, even though they included at least one family member. The evidence even suggests that her uncle and guardian may have acted in his own financial interest rather than in loco parentis. Madeleine's rebellious behaviour?to take her case before both bailliage and Parlement?certainly placed her in a vulnerable position. What role her betrothed and his family might have played during all this, however, unfortunately remains unknown. Rozette appears to be the most defiant and independent. (Although she did not intend her case to be adjudicated according to non-Jewish law, the greater financial protection this law afforded widows might well have strengthened her resolve.)26 Whether by design or not, she posed more of a threat to the nation than any Metz Jew throughout the whole of the eighteenth century. Her refusal to accede to either the decisions of the syndics and the rabbi, the threats of her brother-in-law or the findings of the bailliage court, almost succeeded in destroying the juridical autonomy of the community. An interesting parallel to the case of Rozette is that of 'demoiselle' Louise Persode who died on 9 October 1717 at the age of 80.27 Louise shared with Rozette a strong will, a determination to assert herself financially, and a comparable array of disgruntled family members. Religious concerns played their part, for Louise seems to have remained a Calvinist, her conversion to Catholicism notwithstanding. In contrast to Rozette, however, Louise had made a will and, much to the chagrin of numerous Catholic members of the family, had managed to exclude them all. While still alive, Louise bequeathed her important property holdings and wealth to the President of the Parlement (perhaps a crypto-Calvinist as well), leaving herself a yearly annuity of 2000 livres. When this was declared contrary to the edicts and declarations of the king, she decided to leave at her death two-thirds of her assets to the 'H?pital de Notre-Dame de Bon Secours* and the rest to the 'Charite des Dames des Bouillans de la Ville de Metz'.28 Her Catholic cousins and of course the crown would thus be placed (as indeed they were) in the awkward position of contesting the will on the grounds of Louise's Calvinism and her hatred for anything Catholic, while simultaneously acknow? ledging that their victory would come only at great financial loss to two of the city's Catholic charitable institutions. Olwen Hufton has recently suggested that eighteenth-century widows and spinsters were in the forefront of pressures for change in both France and England.29 Our cases, however, speak less for change than for the protection of important financial interests. Nevertheless, Merle, Madeleine and Rozette, 62</page><page sequence="9">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France even if aided by brothers, husbands, or friends, brought into question and adjudication the laws and customs of their community. Perhaps of even greater signifiance, they successfully asserted a claim to legal personality, even independence. How representative are these three cases? Defiance of the rabbi and syndics and challenges to the juridical autonomy of the Metz nation appear from the very beginning of the century. In 1709, for example, Dr Mayer Schwab appealed to the Parlement against his excommunication.30 Dr Schwab had intended to buy a house for 3000 livres from the banker Salmon Schwab, but subsequently changed his mind. Salmon gave the promissory note he held to a bourgeois of Metz who promptly and predictably brought the case before the bailliage. When Dr Schwab went to the Lieutenant-General to retrieve his promissory note, the nation excommunicated him. What the nation had permitted Salmon to do indirectly, they punished Mayer for doing directly. Thus Dr Mayer Schwab returned to the Lieutenant-General, this time asking that the leaders of the community be prohibited from public assembly and from pronouncing excommunications. The Lieutenant-General apparently complied, while the community quite naturally treated the Doctor as a proscrit. In his turn, he appealed to Parlement stating that the actions of the Jews 'directly opposed the authority of the court'. The Schwab family was not only one of the wealthiest in Metz, but also apparently one of the most litigious. In the same year (1709), Jacob Schwab fought with his brothers and brothers-in-law over the will of their mother and mother-in-law.31 Dissatisfied with the rabbi's decisions, Jacob threatened to take the case beyond the community. The rabbi fined and excommunicated Jacob, who then, in turn, sought and received the support of the procureur du roi who summoned Rabbi Brodot before the bailliage court. The Jews were seeking to establish a 'sovereign' and 'despotic' authority, the rabbi was told, which would trouble the orderly functioning of the kingdom. The nation, through its lawyer Maitre Nicolas Marc, defended its rights and accused the procureur du roi of preventing the Jews from freely exercising their religious obligations. The Parlement subsequently issued its arret of December 1709 protecting Jacob Schwab from any further criminal action against him. The rabbi and community leaders risked a fine of 3000 livres and a prison sentence. The following year the brothers Baruch and Mayer Weil, outraged by the behaviour of Rabbi Braude, who had given their promissory note of 6000 livres to the banker Aaron Worms, appeared before the Lieutenant-General with a request to bring both the rabbi and Worms before the bailliage court.32 The rabbi held the promissory note against the disappearance of the brothers. Illness, and the death of Mayer Weil's son, were the brothers' explanation for their failure to arrive when expected. Frustrated by these appeals to the Lieutenant-General and the Parlement, the 63</page><page sequence="10">Frances Malino leadership of the nation took matters into its own hands. 'For some time now', the syndics and elected representatives declared in 1710, 'there have been many transgressors of the law who have presented themselves before non-Jewish tribunals.. . All the members of our community have taken a solemn pledge not to go before non-Jewish tribunals and they have stipulated a punishment for those who transgress the law.'33 The warning was public; the punishment, of course, was excommunication, including those who incited or aided the transgressors. This pledge notwithstanding, the next few years were filled with cases of recalcitrant Jews threatening the syndics if they dared excommunicate them and the syndics appealing at one time to Parlement, at another to the crown to permit the use of excommunication. 'These are questions of religion', the syndics maintained in their defence against Saloman Cahem and family in 1714. 'Are you sure they do not concern insults to royal justice?' the Parlement would respond.34 'We are obliged to appeal to your Majesty', the syndics wrote in their 1718 address to the king, 'in order to prevent ruinous disorders within our community'.35 In this instance, the officer of the bailliage had challenged the excommunication of an Abraham Levy and simultaneously denied further rabbinic jurisdiction (and only months after the royal Lettres Patentes confirmed this jurisdiction), with disobedience carrying large fines to be paid by the rabbi, the syndics and the whole community. The most poignant syndical appeal occurred in the spring of 1774 when the distinguished parlementary lawyer Pierre-Louis Roederer arrived in Paris. Roederer had the double task of seeking reinstitution of the Parlement of Metz (recently abolished by the Chancellor Maupeou), and of defending the interests of the Metz nation against a certain Rambac. Rambac had not only defied the syndics' authority, but had gone so far as to accuse them before Maupeou of harassment and of attempting to limit the proper jurisdiction of public tribunals. Rambac was a man given to 'dissolute conduct', the syndics argued in their memoranda to the Chancellor and Intendant of Metz. He had dared challenge the power of the Jewish leadership to excommunicate those who 'by their bad conduct, their disdain for their superiors, and their breach of national discipline, deviated from the precepts of their religion'.36 The frustrations most often expressed in these cases?including that of Rambac?focus on intrusion by community leaders into the financial life of individual members, and suggest that the nation was often faced with rebellious behaviour from its more affluent members. In their attempts to retain or reclaim the nation's juridical autonomy, the syndics often reinforced this impression by portraying their community as riven by conflict and ripe for temptation. 'Without the guards that we sent,' the syndics wrote in 1714, 'there would have been open sedition and bloody battles in the Temple'.37 'To deny the power of excommunication', they concluded in another plea to Parlement, 'would be to 64</page><page sequence="11">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France deliver all the Jews to independence and its deadly effects.'38 'Depriving the rabbi and leaders of their jurisdiction', they informed the Chancellor in 1743, 'will only lead to sedition and division into factions'.39 'Should Rambac not be excommunicated', they warned the intendant in 1774, 'Metz Jewish youth would turn to the profligacy rampant in the larger cities.' Family and communal discipline would crumble, and such contagion would scarcely remain within the limited confines of Metz Jewry.40 The cases thus far examined concern the wealthier members of the nation (not surprisingly, since appeal to Parlement or to the Chancellor of France was extremely costly). Others, however, involve both Jews and non-Jews, the vast majority being, for example, merchants and butchers who feared competition from the Jews. Other examples, however, indicate that Jews felt entitled to bring cases against non-Jews to the royal courts; that the Jews of Metz did not escape involvement in criminal behaviour; and that cooperation existed between Jews and non-Jews in the criminal underworld. Quite contrary to expectations, moreover, Jews and Christians in all these cases found themselves similarly punished regardless of the religion of either the victims or the witnesses. On 7 June 1731 Moyse Lambert brought Jacques Damien and Nicolas Bouillon before the police, complaining that these drivers had insulted him. Damien and Bouillon were duly fined and the police issued a regulation prohibiting drivers from molesting, insulting, injuring or troubling their customers.41 On 12 September 1742 the Parlement condemned the mason Louis Gourmaux to a life-sentence of hard labour and branding with a hot iron.42 Gourmaux had been paid to testify falsely against Mayeur Godechaux Cahem. The bailliage had found Gourmaux guilty and stipulated public humiliation and exile for six years. Gourmaux, however, made the mistake of appealing to Parlement, which retained the public humiliation but changed the exile to permanent imprisonment. Perhaps the most interesting case concerned the 40,000 Uwe robbery of two brothers, Cerf Moise and Soloman Cerf.43 In 1769, on the testimony solely of Jewish witnesses, the Parlement found seven non-Jews guilty. Four were publicly hanged and the other three sentenced to life imprisonment. The Parlement may actually have punished seven innocent men. According to an emotionally charged defence of the seven, written eighteen years later, some Bohemians, imprisoned for other crimes, confessed to having robbed the Jews in the village of Mittelbronn in 1768. Jews, moreover, were themselves involved in criminal activities. Two youths, Olry Elie Worms and Naten Aron, found guilty of numerous thefts, were con? demned to permanent hard labour and branded with a hot iron. They had pretended to be selling merchandise and had thereby gained entry into non-Jewish homes. Their case led to a general decree by the bailliage that artisans, pedlars, second-hand dealers and Jews (they were almost always listed 65</page><page sequence="12">Frances Malino separately) must never enter a house without announcing themselves at the door and speaking to someone inside. Failure to comply, the bailliage warned, would lead to arrest and imprisonment.44 Criminal complicity between Jews and non-Jews also existed, as the case of Francois Thiery, Ancel Lyon and Marguerite Chatelain demonstrates.45 Thiery had committed a robbery, subsequently selling the stolen goods to Lyon and Chatelain. The bailliage, concluding that Lyon knew the goods to be stolen, ordered him to be branded with the letter V and banished for ten years. Fortunately for the three involved, the Parlement lessened their punishments, sending Thiery to the galleys for three years and reprimanding and fining both Lyon and Chatelain. Sometimes the whole community might find itself in trouble with the police. On 25 November 1769, for example, Jacob Coblence and his co-proprietors were fined 3 livres for the insalubrious condition of their property and 6 livres for insulting the commissioner who, during his daily rounds, had approached the Jewish quarter, attracted by a 'polluting stench'.46 Apparently the inhabitants of the rue des Juifs believed that the commissioner had come to take their money. Maintaining that he had no right to enter their homes, they pushed him out from the courtyard into the street. The commissioner, protesting that he had come neither for their money nor for their insults, but rather to demand greater care with their latrines, complained to the police, who advised the Jews to clean up their courtyards and latrines and conform to the existing ordinances, under penalty of additional fines. One should not assume, however, that the Jewish quarter had a monopoly of sanitary problems, for the police often report that 'la ville est plus sale que jamais'.47 What can we conclude from these examples of frustration, rebellion and criminal activity? Do they indicate serious problems within the eighteenth century Metz community? Do they represent a rupture with tradition that would lead ultimately to a new structure of society? Put somewhat differently, did the Jews of Metz resist and rebel because of a new outlook on life? Both Arthur Hertzberg and Jacob Katz have concluded on the basis of their evidence that real change came only with the impact of the French Revolution. They quite rightly point out that there were always significant social problems within Jewish communities, that a life of luxury was not unknown in traditional society, and that if laxity in observance and perhaps even gross offences against the religious law became more recurrent, this did not mean, as Katz explains, that the transgressor had a quiet conscience. Azriel Shohet, on the other hand, rejects this conclusion not only for Metz, but also for most of German Jewry. He has assembled an imposing amount of data to prove that German Jews began departing from the traditional patterns of their lives as early as 1700. His arguments call attention to the laxity of religious observance, the waning of traditional evaluation of religious education, and 66</page><page sequence="13">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France the cultivation of philosophy, science and other branches of knowledge of non-Jewish origin banned by earlier generations. Our cases do not indicate the cultivation of knowledge or the rejection of traditional beliefs. Nor do they generally concern a loosening of moral conduct. They reflect rather the determination of wealthy individuals to assert their independence from community control, especially in areas concerning their financial security and business acitivity. The cases also demonstrate the vulnerability of the community as a whole and the inclination of some to survive through criminal activities. None of this, of course, was unique to Metz or to the eighteenth century. What was unusual, however, was the willingness of non-Jewish authorities to defend and protect many of those who rebelled (especially the rich), thus eroding the disciplinary powers of the community and further exacerbating tensions between the wealthy and the poor. Significant too were the accusations of despotism and the arbitrary use of power (both are code words often used in the eighteenth century) which the rebellious levelled against rabbis and syndics. Lastly there was an assumption among some Metz Jews that they were entitled to equal status in public law and that their complaints, even against Christian neighbours, would be acted on fairly and without repercussions. This leads us, of course, to an additional question. Why would the Parlement defend and protect rebellious Jews? Put more accurately perhaps, what was the nature of the confrontation between the Parlement and the Metz nation! Was it, as Arthur Hertzberg suggests (although he mistakenly believed the Metz Parlement to be a court of first resort), merely a collision between two competing juridical bodies?48 Doubtless, the constant skirmishes which William Doyle describes as taking place between the bailliage courts and their judicial superiors find illuminating parallels in the relationship between nation, and Parlement.49 For regardless of how the crown might define the autonomy of the nation the Parlement never ceased to believe it exercised appellate jurisdiction. Yet to reduce the explanation to one point is to deprive both French and Jewish historians of a more complex and, I believe, more accurate reading. The Parlement of Metz quite naturally identified the juridical autonomy of the Jewish community with the sovereignty of the crown. Were not the privileges of the Metz nation consistently confirmed in royal Lettres Patentes! The rabbi of Metz, moreover, was invested by the king himself. Juridical competition with the nation, therefore, was an aspect of the continuing quarrel concerning the locus of sovereignty which French Parlements had with the crown. Predictably the Metz ParlemenVs attempts to define and render inferior the sovereignty of the nation reached a crescendo during the years 1756-71. If the nation's privileges derived from the authority of the crown, its powers of excommunication undoubtedly derived from those of religion. Although respecting the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church, the Metz parlementary 67</page><page sequence="14">Frances Malino historian Michel writes, 'the Parlement never humbled itself in the face of the Church's attempts at temporal usurpation and while always protecting the Church in the exercise of its rights fought as well the abuses of its power'.50 For three-quarters of a century, then, the Parlement of Metz treated the nation's use of excommunication as another example of the abuse of the power of the Church. The ParlemenVs confrontation with the nation, moreover, reveals not only competition between two juridical bodies and a struggle over sovereignty, but also a consistent attempt?albeit unsolicited and unwelcomed except by the rebellious?to integrate the Jewish community into the body politic of Metz. Both the ParlemenVs determination to codify Jewish law, and its success in enforcing a status in public law for Jews comparable to that of non-Jews, suggest this interpretation. One final question remains. Were Gl?ckePs wealthy and worldly parnassim also calling into question the basic tenets of Judaism? Was Zalkind Hourwitz representative of a group of frustrated Metz intellectuals? Answers to these questions must await further research. Our cases clearly demonstrate, however, that if the rebellious of Metz provided no intellectual or philosophical challenge to traditional Judaism, as did Mendelssohn and the maskilim of Germany, they nevertheless confronted the institutions of traditional Jewish society. Even more, they challenged the rationale for their continued existence. NOTES 1 Jonathan Eybesch?tz, 'Sermons of Ethical Rebuke'. Marc Saperstein, of Washing? ton University, Saint Louis, kindly made his translation available to the author. 2 Zalkind Hourwitz, in a letter to the government suggesting he participate in the compilation of the cahiers de doleance of the Jews of Metz, 8 May 1789, Archives Nationales, AA 42, dossier 1324, no 40. 3 Gliickel of Hameln (New York 1963) 176. 4 For a dated but useful study of the Parlement of Metz, see Emmanuel Michel, His toire du Parlement de Metz (Paris 1845). 5 See for example the fine and comprehen? sive study by Gilbert Cahen, 'La region lorraine' in Bernhard Blumenkranz (ed.) Histoire des Juifs en France (Toulouse 1972), as well as Abraham Cahen, 'Le rabbinat de Metz pendant la periode francaise, 1567-1871', Revue des etudes juives VII (1884) 103-15, 204-26; VIII (1884) 225-74; XII (1886) 283 97; XIII (1886) 105-26. Additional informative works include Arthur Hertzberg, The French Enlightenment and the Jews (New York 1968), chapter VII, Samuel Kerner, 'La vie quotidienne de la communaute juive de Metz au dix huitieme siecle (? partir du Pinkas inedit de cette communaute, 1749 1789)', (These de Doctorat de 3e cycle, Paris, 1979), and Roger Clement, La Con? dition des Juifs de Metz dans YAncien Regime (Paris 1903). 6 After examining approximately 1500 wills, Gilbert Cahen ('La region lorraine', p. 109) has concluded that credits were the essential property bequeathed by the Jews of Metz. The total credits owed the Metz Jews in 1789 amounted to 3 million livres. This certain? ly contributed to the French government's reluctance and ultimate refusal to nationalize the property of the Jews. 7 'qu'en consequence les proces et differens qui pourroient arriver entre lesdits Juifs pour le fait de leur religion et police particuliere, en cas civil seulement, fussent 68</page><page sequence="15">Resistance and rebellion in eighteenth-century France juges par leur Rabbi ou les Elus et non autres, ainsi qu'il etoit accoutume de tout tems, avec defenses ? tous Juifs de contre venir aux jugemens rendus par ledit Rabbi ou Elus, ? peine d'etre contraints par eux ? l'execution ainsi qu'il est accou? tume.' Lettres Patentes of 31 December 1715, quoted in 'A Nosseigneurs De Parlement, Sup plient humblement les Syndics de la Com munaute des Juifs de cette Ville' (Metz, 1765) Jewish Theological Seminary (henceforth JTS), microfilm 8347. The laws of the nation were based on the Talmud, the interpretations of the Rabbis and Ashkenazi local custom. 8 Collection Emmery sur Fhistoire de Metz, Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale (henceforth BN), n. acq. fr. 22705. 9 The Lettres Patentes fixed the Jewish population in Metz at 480 families. At the beginning of the century there were approxi? mately 3000 Jews out of a total of 22,000 inhabitants (15 per cent). By the end of the century the Jewish population had decreased to 2000, while the total population had increased to 36,000 (5 per cent). The nation lost many of its middle-class members to emigration and, by the end of the century, became a community primarily of the wealthy and the very poor. See Gilbert Cahen, 'La region lorraine'. 10 Worms further revealed that if a woman had these rights, she would disdain her . hus? band and teach her children and domestics to do likewise. One already sees this, he declared, all too often. Collection Emmery, BN, n. acq. fr. 22705. 11 'Succession', Encyclopedia Judaica (1972) Vol. 15. 12 Receuil Des Loix, Coutumes Et Usages Observes Par les Juifs De Metz (Metz 1786) Houghton Library, Cambridge, Ma., FC7Aioo786r. See also Papiers Begin relatifs ? la Lorraine, BN, n. acq. fr. 22315. Exclud? ing those of the Jews, the Parlement had to consult at least twelve other sets of laws and customs. See Michel (see n.4) 226-8. 13 For a detailed discussion of this, see Frances Malino, 'Competition and Confronta? tion: the Jews and the parlement of Metz', Les Juifs Au Regard De UHistoire Melanges en Vhonneurde Bernhard Blumenkranz (Paris 1985). 14 Archives de la region lorraine et du departement de la Moselle (henceforth ADM), I7j23,jur. 34-5. 15 Material for this case was found in New York City at the JTS Library, in Cambridge Ma. at the Houghton Library, and in Metz in the ADM. 16 Recueil Des Loix, Coutumes Et Usages. 17 ADM, I7j23,jur. 31. 18 Ibid. Jur. 53. 19 Ibid. Jur. 31. 20 Ibid. Jur. 53. 21 Ibid. Jur. 32. 22 JTS,micr. 8348. 23 'Arrest de la Cour de Parlement' Hough ton Library, FC7F844P8759a. 24 The Parlement's increased frustration with the nation's power of excommunication coincided with and undoubtedly reflected the court's struggles with the Jesuits. 25 'Copie de la lettre ecrite le 14c Xbre 1767 par Msr le Due de Choiseul ? M. de Champel Procureur General du Parle? ment de Metz', AN, 29, AP3, Papiers Roederer. 26 In Metz customary law, a widow shared equally with her children or stepchildren in both goods and debts. See Francois Jager, De la transmission hereditaire des biens cf apres la coutume de Metz et pays Messin (Paris 1911). In defending juridical assimilation for the Jews, the Abbe Gregoire drew attention to the inequitable position of women in Jewish law: 'Les femmes qui chez eux n'heritent qu'? defaut de males, seront appellees aux successions d'une maniere plus favorable ? leur sexe; la majorite flxee aux mek^es epoques que chez nous, entrai nera moins d'inconveniens.' Henri Gre? goire, Essai sur la regeneration physique, morale et politique des Juifs (Metz 1789)15 6-7. 27 'Factum pour Mr Michel de Saint Blaise, Conseiller au parlement de Metz; tous heretiers paternels et maternels de demoiselle Louise Persode, decedee ? Metz', BN, n. acq. fr. 22703. 28 See Olwen Hufton, The Poor of Eighteenth Century France 1750-1789 (Oxford 1974)131 76, for a fine discussion of such relief institu? tions. 29 Olwen Hufton, 'Women Without Men: Widows and Spinsters in Britain and France in the Eighteenth Century', Journal of Family His? tory, 9, 4 (Winter 1984), 355-76. Although focusing primarily on the less privileged, Hufton calls attention to the prevalence of middle-class widows and spinsters in education and welfare services. 30 ADM, I7j23,jur. 14. 31 This case is cited in full in Cahen (see n. 5) VIII262-6. 69</page><page sequence="16">Frances Malino 32 ADM, I7j23,jur. 15. 33 'Copie d'une publication faite dans la synagogue contre les juifs qui porteront dore navant leurs affaires aux juges ordinaires', (in Hebrew) ADM, I7j23,jur. 15. 34 Ibid. Jur. 21. 35 Ibid. Jur. 27. 36 'L'affaire de Salomon Rambac', Archives Nationales 29 AP 3. 37 Ibid. Jur. 21. 38 Ibid. Jur. 30. 39 Ibid. Jur. 37. 40 The syndics' fear and threat of disorder influenced the French ministers. The conseil advised that the syndics separate the case of Rambac?who should not be allowed to win his case?from the less clear issue of juridical autonomy. Tl est facile de ramener Rambac ? cet objet unique, et de le convaincre qu'il n'a ete cite, et qu'il n'a essuye deux proclamations, que parce qu'il s'etait ecarte des Loix de discipline qui sont en vigueur dans la Nation.' Ibid. 41 'Extrait des registres du greffe de la Police de Metz', BN, n. acq. fr. 22713. 42 'Arrest de la cour de parlement qui condamne Louis Gourmaux, habitant de Chatel et autres, ? faire amande-honorable, et aux galers ? perpetuite, pour faux temoi gnage', 12 Septembre 1742, Houghton Library, FC7F844P8742a. 43 Collection Emmery, BN, n. acq. fr. 22706. 44 'Extrait des minutes du greffe du bailliage de Metz', 12 August 1763, Houghton Library, pFB7M5687763e. 45 BN, n. acq. fr. 22706. 46 'Extrait des registres de greffe de la Police de Metz', BN, n. acq. fr. 22714. 47 See police regulations for 1700-1788 in BN, n. acq. fr. 22712, 22713, 22714. 48 Hertzberg (see n. 5) 244. 49 William Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution (Oxford 1980) 111. 50 Michel (see n. 4) 217-8. 70</page></plain_text>

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