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Loi Relative aux Juifs.

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Loi Relative aux Juifs.

BROADSIDES & DOCUMENTS. Paris, 1791. Highly important proclamation grants all Jews equality of citizenship in France, marking the beginning of Jewish emancipation in modern history.

Price: $11,000

Among the earliest proclamations in Europe of equal rights for both Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews.

On the eve of the French Revolution, there were approximately 40,000 Jews in France. Those of Spanish and Portuguese extraction had been living quietly among the southern population, including Bordeaux and Avignon, since the end of the 15th century. They spoke French, had become an integral part of the mercantile community and were less observant of religious ritual; in some cases pretending to be “New Christians.” The Ashkenazim, on the other hand, who were concentrated in Paris and Alsace in the north of France, kept to themselves and spoke mainly Yiddish. They were considered to be “less French” than the Marranos and not equal to citizenship.

On August 27, 1789, a newly created French National Assembly threw open the doors to the Revolution by approving “The Declaration of the Rights of Man”. Though freedom and equality were demanded of “all men” they curiously did not include Jews. It was not until six months later that King Louis XVI, under political pressure, issued an open letter patent granting equal rights to Jews, but only those of Sephardic extraction. In the closing days of the National Assembly, on September 27, 1791, a decree of complete emancipation for all Jews, including the Ashkenazim, was finally passed.

Adrien Duport, one of the National Assembly members declared: “The question of the political existence of the Jews has been postponed… I demand that… a decree pass [so] that the Jews in France enjoy the privileges of full citizens.” With general applause, this decree was finally passed and thus began a new epoch in Jewish history.

“The National Assembly, considering that the conditions requisite to be a French citizen, and to become an active citizen, are fixed by the constitution, and that every man who, being duly qualified, takes the civic oath, and engages to fulfill all the duties prescribed by the constitution, has a right to all the advantages it insures;… (The National Assembly). annuls all adjournments, restrictions, and exceptions, contained in the preceding decrees, affecting individuals of the Jewish persuasion, who shall take the civic oath, which shall be considered as a renunciation of all privileges granted in their favor.”

Loi Relative Aux Juifs. [Paris] France: Clermont Ferrand, December 28, 1791. Bi-folio measuring 9 1/4 inches x 7 inches. Royal coat of arms imprint across top of page with the number of the law [1425] included. Damp staining at top and lower left corner. Later hand-written date “1792” written at top. Pages clipped at top right corner, not affecting text.