The Jews of England and The Revolutionary Era

1789 – 1815
Jeremy Smilg

This is a wonderful and accessible book written with energy and enthusiasm incorporating political, social, cultural and religious history. It is the first to explore the responses of English Jewry to the French Revolution and how British politics and culture dealt with ‘the Jew’ at a critical moment of turmoil, fear and excitement.
Professor Tony Kushner, Parkes Institute, University of Southampton

The emancipation of Jews during the French Revolution and Napoleon’s destruction of European ghettos led to concerns over the loyalty of Anglo-Jewry to the Crown. The wealthy elite of the Jewish community adopted the traditional approach of Jews in the diaspora stressing the community’s loyalty and avoiding the public expression of any view which might be controversial.  This outlook which had been adopted for centuries by Jewish communities across the diaspora reflected both Jewish religious injunctions and a desire for self-preservation. In contrast, a small number of Jews broke with this approach and published remarkably contentious views on a range of political and religious subjects.
Drawing on a rich range of sources including songs, novels and prints, the book examines the extent of anti-Jewish sentiment in England. It breaks new ground by using government archives to demonstrate that these negative representations only had a very limited impact on the implementation of the Alien Act of 1793.  This book seeks to understand the deeply held fears of the communal elite but also argues that the ground-breaking controversial views of some of the Jewish dissidents were more widely held than has been previously considered. As a study of a minority under pressure, the position of Anglo-Jewry in the period has wider relevance in today’s multicultural world.

Hardback 260 pages  10 colour and 4 black and white illus

Copyright: 30/6/2021