On this day: the final expulsion of the Jews from France


On September 17, 1394, King Charles VI of France ordered the expulsion of all Jews from the kingdom.

Prior to the expulsion, French Jews had faced the burning of sacred religious texts, discriminatory taxes, and other tax policies aimed at targeting Jews.

They were also blamed for the Black Death, which ravaged Europe in the mid-1300s.

Cities all over France had expelled Jews throughout the 13th and 14th centuries. The Jews were formally expelled from France in 1306, their lands being taken by the government. They were expelled due to King Philip’s lack of money after a war with the Flemings. The expulsion allowed him to confiscate and sell Jewish property.

They were recalled in 1315 and forced to pay to return, and banished once more in 1322. A pattern of expulsion and return emerged around this time.

In 1315, laws were passed preventing Jews from discussing their religion in public. They were also required to wear a badge to identify themselves as Jewish and were warned against usury, the practice of lending money at unreasonably high interest rates, a charge based on anti-Semitism.

On September 17, 1394, Charles VI declared that the Jews had violated the agreement made with him. According to the Religious of Saint-Denis – also known as the Monk of Saint-Denis – the king had signed this decree at the insistence of the queen.

A MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPT shows Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

French Jews had little time to sell their goods before being escorted out of French lands.

The expulsion of 1394 is accepted as the date of the last expulsion from France in medieval times. Unlike previous expulsions, this was not temporary. The Jewish people began to return to France at the beginning of the 17th century.

Today, around one percent of the French population is Jewish.

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