FRANCOS (pl. of Franco, the Ladino equivalent of Arabic Franji, Ifranji), term used in Muslim countries of the Eastern Mediterranean to designate all Europeans. *Benjamin of Tudela (12th century) used the term in the same sense (Massa'ot, ed. by M.N. Adler (1907), 19, 23). Since the time of the *capitulations treaties between France and the Ottoman Empire (1535), the term has been generally used for the protected (Christian) merchants who came from European countries. In later times Jewish merchants from Europe were also protected under the capitulations treaties. Consequently, one finds the name Franco in Sephardi rabbinic literature from the 16th century onward as a term for European Jews. In Eastern Europe it first came to mean a Jew who was a Turkish subject, and then a Sephardi, Ladino-speaking Jew. In modern Hebrew slang the term Franji is used with the same meaning.
Neubauer, Chronicles, 1 (1887), 157; E.W. Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon, 6 (1877), 2389; R. Brunschvig (ed.), Deux récits de voyage inédits en Afrique du Nord (1936), 55, 121, 67, 135–6, 158, 192, and n. 3; Lutski, in: Zion, 6 (1940/41), 46–79; Baron, Community, 3 (1942), 101–2.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.