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Reorganization of Jews in the Ottoman Empire

The religious hegemony of the Church of Rome in Western Europe was meant to be reinforced by the Inquisition and the formal expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain and Portugal in 1492. This enforced dispersion, or diaspora, of the Jews was not confined to Spain and Portugal but was a pattern that was repeated throughout the area that had formerly been under control of the Roman and Byzantine empires. As Shaw explains, formal imperial edicts or less formal sanctions against the Jews that began in the fourth century persisted until the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The rise of the Ottoman Empire, which was Muslim, in the East after 1453 coincided with the retrenchment of Christian orthodoxy throughout Europe in the West during the same period. As Jews were dispersed away from Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they migrated toward the East. The name given to the patterns of their resettlement in territories under Ottoman control is the ingathering (Shaw 1-25).

The social structure in which Jews functioned as they settled in territories that were under control of the Ottoman Turks appears to have been one of relative emancipation, certainly more emancipation than the Jews experienced in Europe until the period of the Enlightenment there (Sachar 39-40). This can be traced not so much to Ottoman policy per se as to the fact that Ottoman power of the period was informed


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Reorganization of Jews in the Ottoman Empire. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:27, October 24, 2014, from
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