NAPOLEON, THE TZARS, AND THE EMANCIPATION OF JEWRY IN CONTINENTAL EUROPE
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RUSSIAN STUDIES
ISSUE NO. 10 ( 2021/2 )
Jewish emancipation across Continental Europe was a slow process that happened earlier in some western countries, later in others and only much later in Russia. The Age of Revolution, beginning in the late 18th century, from the moment King Louis XVI was removed by popular uprising and executed in 1789, was a time of political transformation in Western Europe. By and large, the Jews of Continental Western Europe became beneficiaries of this upheaval as nation-states adopted a citizenship model that did not depend on ethnic or religious heritage. This development resulted in the dismantling of ghettos and autonomous Jewish communities and provided pathways to integration into popular society with all the legal (if not always social) rights and privileges of citizenship. Jews within the Russian Empire, on the other hand, did not realize emancipation until the overthrow of the Tzars in 1917. The Tzars never abandoned their policy of containment and ghettoization, and attempted to influence European policies by opposing emancipation. This paper will examine the uneven processes by which Jewish emancipation in Europe and in Russia was initiated.