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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/221

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THE JEWS IN EUROPE.

imperial laws appearing to have satisfied them. Gregory the Great protected them unweariedly against the acts of violence common in Southern Italy, and forbade forcing them into the Church. On the other hand, he sought to procure their conversion by vouchsafing privileges to them, and set up the doubtful principle, which was often evoked later on when forcible conversions were attempted, viz., if the Church does not win thereby those who have been bought over, it certainly wins their children.

From that time on, for nearly three centuries, the Popes are silent respecting the Jewish people. After the middle of the ninth century the first considerable assumption of power on the part of the Papacy took place under the Pseud-Isidore, Nicholas I, and his nearest successors. When Stephen VI (885-891) broke the long silence, a strong hostile feeling had already taken the place of the earlier mildness in Rome. The Pope wrote to the Archbishop of Narbonne, that "he had been plunged into deadly anxiety by the news that the Jews, those enemies of God, had become possessed there by royal permission of property in land, and that Christians lived together with these dogs, and even performed service for them, although, as a punishment for the death of Christ, all the pledges and promises which God had confirmed to them were canceled." With this the signal was given, and the new path entered upon on which men now proceeded to advance. It is true that the Jews were not seldom successful in obtaining Papal letters of protection. The injunction not to force them to baptism, or to rob or kill them, was often repeated; but, while on other occasions, even in matters of little consequence, banning, interdicting, outlawing, and other drastic means were threatened and applied, these bulls for the protection of the Jews consisted of general exhortations, and were of little use, because the penal sanction was wanting. The kings and high nobility set everywhere the example of lawlessly oppressing, abusing, and plundering the Jews, and we do not find that the Popes called them to account for this, or took the part of the oppressed against them. On the contrary, when Philip Augustus robbed and banished the Jews of France, Cœlestin III declared that the king in doing this had shown his ardent zeal in the cause of God; and when any temporal ruler, who was also an official in the Church, in order to be sure of his right to do so, asked for Papal authorization to drive out the Jews from his dominion, it was readily granted him. The declaration of Innocent III, that the whole people was condemned by God, on account of its guilt, to perpetual slavery, became the oft-cited Magna Charta for all those who lusted after the gains and possessions of the Jews; in accordance with it rulers and peoples acted. Nor could the impression it made be greatly diminished by the circumstance that the Popes supported the letters, which they from time to time gave for the protection of the Jews, by referring to the prophecy about a remnant of the people that should remain