Joseph Gortissos and the War of the Spanish Succession*


One of the most remarkable features of the seventeenth century in Jewish history was the advent of the Jewish Commissary, who by the middle of the eighteenth century was found in nearly every country of Europe. In Austria and numerous German States the supplying of armies was merely one of the various functions of the Court Jew, whose rise to power during this period was an entirely new phenomenon. Paradoxically, it took place at a time of exceptional religious intolerance, when France and Austria were expelling their non-Catholic subjects, when only a few privileged Jews were permitted to live in Prussia and W?rttemberg, and nearly everywhere Jewish ghetto life was as restricted as it ever had been.

Rise of the Court Jew

The author of the leading work on the subject1 has attributed the rise of the Court Jew-Commissary to political and economic causes. Chief among these

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