By Eva Johanna Holmberg
In line with commute writings, spiritual historical past and renowned literature, Jews within the Early glossy English mind's eye explores the come upon among English guests and the Jews. whereas literary and non secular traditions created a picture of Jews as untrustworthy, even sinister, guests got here to understand them of their many and numerous groups with wealthy traditions and fascinating life-styles. The Jew of the mind's eye encountered the Jew of city and village, in southern Europe, North Africa and the Levant. Coming from an England riven by means of spiritual disputes and sometimes by way of political unrest, travelers introduced their very own questions about identification, nationwide personality, spiritual trust and the standard of human family members to their stumble upon with 'the scattered nation'.
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Extra info for Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination: A Scattered Nation
67 The Ottoman centres of traffic and the centre of the Empire, Istanbul, were also the centres for Jewish life. Already Nicolas de Nicolay had told of a significant community of Jewish doctors living in Constantinople and traders in ‘Andrinople’ (Adrianopolis). Jews went where the money went, and the money came where they went. 68 *** The Jewish landlessness and wandering were presented as a result of their crimes against Christ and as a result of a long historical process, but also seemed to provoke English curiosity about all the possible corners of the world where Jews could be found.
71 I will first review English descriptions of Jewish quarters and streets in early modern cities in terms of the restrictions and regulations on Jewish life noted by scholars and travellers. I then move on to the urban experiences of the English: the closed and defined spaces, filled with life that could be found inside the quarters and ghettoes. In English eyes contemporary Jews were city dwellers, and this influenced their depiction. Thus, Jews were placed in urban contexts or seen to travel from city to city, which also made sense to those who already expected Jews to be a wandering people.
The Geographicall Historie’s map of Africa was filled with interesting peoples. The Jews, who were portrayed in the book as infiltrated among African peoples, were described as plants which increased and multiplied wherever they went. The Jews ‘being wonderfully increased in Spaine passed one after another into Affricke and Mauritania, and dispersed themselues euen to the confines of Numidia’, bringing ‘artes and professions of Europe’ to Africa with them. 48 Since Leo’s book was supposed to be about the geographical history of Africa, it naturally did not touch upon Jews who had settled elsewhere: in Italy, Germany, the Ottoman Empire or even further away.