Bohemia/Moravia and Familiantengesetz #austria-czech


samorai <samorai@...>
 

The question seems to be whether there are Familianten lists in Moravia of
the same type that are available in the Bohemian province. All the evidence
points to the conclusion that there "should" be such lists. This evidence is
both circumstantial and direct (but based on secondary sources). Both
elements make for a powerful case for their existence.

1. The circumstantial evidence begins with the 1724 census of the Jewish
population in the Bohemian Lands. The Bohemian Lands or the Bohemian Kingdom
includes both Bohemia and Moravia. This appears to be the solid basis for
the family decrees [familiantengesetz] issued by the central authorities
[King Ferdinand VI and ] in 1725 and 1726. A census simply records
various kinds of facts. Decrees are directives of the Government regarding
its policy in a specific matter.

I may be mistaken, but I found no reference in Dr. Haas' presentation
entitled "Statistical Observation on the Jewish Population of Moravia in the
Past and Present" in Hugo Gold's book to the 1724 census. If I am correct,
this seems an odd omission. The decrees could not possibly have been so
explicit without the census which provided the numbers regarding Jewish
restrictions of various sorts. That the census did take place throughout the
12 or 13 districts (kreis) of the Bohemian realm (that is, Bohemia and
Moravia) is clear >from Ruth Kestenberg-Gladstein's summary and illustrative
presentation of the raw material. She lists the districts so there is no
mistaking that it covers our two provinces.

2. The decrees of 1725-26 also apply to both provinces. We can site a number
of secondary sources for this but one is enough here. William O. McCagg,
Jr., in A History of Habsburg Jews 1670-1918, (Bloomington: Indiana UP,
1989), writes as follows: "In 1726, Kaiser Karl VI decided to limit the Jews
of the Bohemian Crown. He declared that alongside some 10,00 Jews in Prague,
30-40,000 would be allowed to live in rural Bohemia, and some 20-25,000 in
Moravia., but no more. He defined these numbers in terms of families . . . .
We will leave the numbers debate aside. The question is to what extent the
decrees were put into effect. And this raises a prior question which is not
at all clear in my mind - were the LISTS a separate census or a derivative
of the 1724 census? In any case, somebody had to make up these lists and
that somebody were LOCAL officials, usually with a great deal of autonomy.
The central Habsburg Government was very weak. Thus, local discretion
determined whether the information would be gathered and to what extent or
how the decrees would be implemented.

Lovely light could have been shed on the exact size and dynamic changes in
the Jewish population if we had the tax rosters for the Jewish communities
or a central roster of the "eda" [Jewish Community], but alas we don't.
Despite the restrictions on the size of the Jewish families and the right to
marry of the first son only, our current sources state that the Jewish
population swelled in the 1730s and 1740s. So apparently there were ways to
get around the decrees. When the 10,000-14,000 estimated Jews were expelled
from Prague in 1745, they had temporary respite in the Bohemian countryside.
At the last hour, the decree calling for the expulsion of all Jews >from the
Kingdom was annulled, and the Prague Jews returned after only six months,
probably all of them in the homes of fellow Jews. A decade later a fire
swept through the ghetto and it was this that broke the will to stay in the
urban centre for many of Prague's Jews. But the countryside, with ups and
downs, appeared to flourish. I'll close with another quote >from McCagg:
Bohemia and Moravia had even in the eighteenth century been the industrial
heartland of the Habsburg realm, this in part because of the natural wealth
of these provinces, in part because of their favourable position vis-a-vis
the West."

Our researchers in Prague should be able to tell us a little more about what
is available. Are there local collections of estate owners still untouched?
The genealogical wheels grind slowly.

Paul King
Jerusalem

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