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Rescue the Surviving SoulsThe Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century$
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Adam Teller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161747.001.0001

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(p.259) Chapter Twenty-Four Amsterdam
Rescue the Surviving Souls

Adam Teller

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses how, though the majority of the refugees from the Commonwealth who traveled westward ended up in the empire, a significant number made for a place outside it: Amsterdam. The major city in the Seven Provinces, the part of the Netherlands that had broken free of Habsburg control in 1581, Amsterdam had become one of Europe's major trading emporia and a bastion of mercantilism by the seventeenth century. The cosmopolitan atmosphere of the port city supported the development of more tolerant attitudes to strangers and non-Christians, while economic need and mercantilist ideology led the urban authorities to encourage the settlement of groups with wealth and economic skills, regardless of their background. This opened the way for Jews. Though it did not explicitly welcome Jewish settlement, Amsterdam's willingness to tolerate not only the presence of Jews but also the creation of Jewish communal bodies and communal buildings made it something of a magnet for Jews. The chapter then looks at the strength and centrality in Amsterdam Jewish society of the Portuguese Jews, as well as the significance of the Sephardi–Ashkenazi divide in the treatment of the refugees.

Keywords:   Jewish refugees, Amsterdam, mercantilism, mercantilist ideology, Jewish settlement, Jewish society, Portuguese Jews, Sephardi Jews, Ashkenazi Jews

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