European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750

Jonathan I. Israel

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ISBN: 9781874774426

Publication: November 1, 1997

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

In the USA? Buy the Paperback US edition

This survey history of Jewish life and culture in early modern Europe is the first to focus on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as a radically new phase in Jewish history. The book lays particular emphasis on the reversal of trends in western and central Europe in the late sixteenth century, which was followed by a rapid increase in Jewish numbers and activity, and far-reaching reorganization of Jewish society and institutions. A major consequence of these changes was a much expanded and more varied Jewish role in European civilization as a whole.

The first edition of this book was the joint winner of the Wolfson Literary Prize for History in 1986. For this third edition, the book has been updated and includes a new introduction.

Jonathan I. Israel is Professor in the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, and was formerly Professor of Dutch History and Institutions at the University of London. He is the author of The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World, 1606–1661 (1986), Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740 (1989), Empires and Entrepots: The Dutch, the Spanish Monarchy, and the Jews, 1585–1713 (1990), The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall, 1477–1806 (1995), Conflicts of Empires: Spain, the Low Countries, and the Struggle for World Supremacy, 1585–1713 (1997), Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650–1750, and Diasporas within a Diaspora: Jews, Crypto-Jews, and the World Maritime Empires, 1540–1740 (2002), and editor of The Anglo-Dutch Moment: Essays on the Glorious Revolution and its World Impact (1991). He has held visiting professorships and research fellowships in the Netherlands and France, and at the University of California at Los Angeles, and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Preface to the third edition
Preface to the first edition

1 Exodus from the West
2 Turning-Point (1570-1600)
3 Consolidation (1600-1620)
4 Jewish Culture (1550-1650)
5 The Thirty Years War
6 The High Point (I): The 'Court Jews' (1650-1713)
7 The High Point (II): Jewish Society (1650-1713)
8 The High Point (III): 'A Republic Apart'
9 The High Point (IV): Spiritual Crisis (1650-1713)
10 Decline and Renewal (1713-1750)
11 Conclusion

Primary printed sources
Secondary works


'An important book ... which will be of extreme value to all students of early modern Europe ... Professor Israel has shed new and powerful light on a neglected period.'
Lionel Kochan, British Book News

'Remarkable and very readable ... a consistent narrative of Jewish participation in the socio-economic odyssey of their Wirtsvolker.'
J. Wansbrough, Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies

'Israel's sweeping synthesis of two centuries of Jewish demographics, economics, community life, and culture is no mere restatement of the existing scholarly consensus ... an important, highly controversial study of great interest to those serious students of Baroque Jewish and general history who are equipped to weigh its challenging claims.'
M. A. Meyer, Choice

'An ambitious and much needed study of Jewish life and culture in the context of Europe's intellectual and religious history ... a skilful synthesis of current scholarship. To this he has brought his own sharply critical judgement and a highly original interpretative theory ... highly stimulating.'
Henry Roseveare, Economic History Review

'A beautiful work of scholarship and synthesis that should immediately become a standard text ... For the first time, the history of early modern European Jewry is presented as a coherent whole and in a form recognizable to non-Jewish scholars, adhering to all of the standards of scholarship ... Israel's sparkling book should eliminate that blind spot found in so many historical works, which should be dealing with Jewish themes but have not done so simply because no suitable guide was readily to hand.'
David S. Katz, English Historical Review

'Professor Israel deserves major credit for doing what others have shied away from: recognizing the early modern period as a unit for the Jews of Europe as a whole and trying to find clear trends across the continent. All students of Jewish and general economic history of the period must study this book carefully and will learn much.'
Benjamin Ravid, European History Quarterly

'A valuable survey'
J. L. Price, History

'A fundamental reinterpretation of early modern Jewish history ... an important starting point for a fuller re-examination of early modern Jewish history.'
John D. Klier, Journal of European Studies

'Important, readable, illuminating ... offers a fresh approach and many new interpretations in Jewish history of the early modern period, and challenges conceptions long held sacred by previous historians.'
George Wolf, Judaica Book News

'This comprehensive account of rapid political and economic change over two centuries should become standard reading for all historians of early modern Europe.'
Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement


'Sheds further light on a subject only beginning to receive adequate attention and scholarship ... In this updated third edition, Professor Israel adds the new evidence from recent research to support the several important themes ... For both the academic specialist as well as the reader with a general interest, Professor Israel's monograph makes a scholarly and accessible contribution ... a lively and erudite analysis ...'
Lawrence Haar, Jewish Book News & Reviews

'Continues to be a basic book for understanding how Jews were affected by the changes of the early modern period.'
Stephen J. Burnett, Sixteenth Century Journal

Format: Paperback

Edition: 3rd Revised edition

Size: 235 x 155 x 23 mm

288 Pages

1 map

ISBN: 9781874774426

Publication: November 1, 1997

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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