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Schutzbrief

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Letter of Protection, Holy Roman EmpireWithin the Holy Roman Empire (late 900s-1806), Jewish people had to pay special taxes to the emperors to earn their protection. But the emperors, always short on money, would often pledge away their right to tax Jews to creditors and purchasers throughout the Empire. Underneath these individuals, Jews lost their imperial protection and were for the most part expelled. Sometimes, however, a few were granted special permission to reside within the territory. This right of residence, called a schutzbrief (“writ of protection”) was extremely difficult to obtain. Among the many conditions attached to the schutzbrief was an annual payment or schutzgeld (“protection money”).

This is a rare example of an eighteenth-century schutzbrief issued to Sussman Wolf Brull by the Provost of Bamberg. The document probably survives today because Brull did not move to Bamberg, where he would have used it. If he had relocated from Lichtenfels, the paper would have likely been destroyed along with all other active schutzbriefe when the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in the early 1800s.

The donor’s husband was a direct descendent of Sussman Wolf Brull.

Donated by Daphne Doctor
M2008/047

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