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Rudolf II°

RUDOLF II° (of Hapsburg; 1552–1612), Holy Roman emperor and king of Bohemia from 1576. His reign was a period of growth for the Jewry of his dominions, particularly the community of *Prague (where he resided most of the time). He was in constant touch with Mordecai *Meisel, who served him both as banker and as supplier of objects for his art collections. Rudolf was noted for his patronage of the arts and crafts and in 1577 he granted the Jewish goldsmith Joseph de Cerui the privilege of working at his craft in various districts of Prague. In 1586 he granted a similar privilege to Jacob Golds-cheider, covering not only Prague but also the royal cities open to Jewish residence. In 1592 he received *Judah Loew b. Bezalel (Maharal) in audience and in 1598 renewed the permit for a Jewish printing house (*Kohen) in Prague. In the same year, he allowed Elias *Halfanus to practice medicine in Vienna. In 1593 he mediated a conflict between the Jewish and the gentile furriers of Prague. Rudolf created the category of the Hofbefreiter Jude (1582), Jews attached to the court and enjoying such privileges as exemption from taxes and from wearing the Jewish *badge. Such Jews were under the jurisdiction of the court's chief marshall (Oberhofmarschall) and had the right to live wherever the imperial court sojourned. From them the institution of the *Court Jew developed, which led to the de facto reestablishment of communities in Vienna and in Regensburg. In 1583 Rudolf II granted his support to the apostate *Elhanan (Paulus Pragensis) to publish a Hebrew translation of the New Testament. The mentally unstable emperor fell under the influence of his valet, Philipp Lang von Langenfels (d. 1610), a Jew from Tyrol who had been baptized in his youth, and thereafter dukes and ambassadors had to secure von Langenfels' support in order to influence Rudolf. When he was imprisoned in 1608, von Langenfels was in possession of 300,000 florins. The Jewish Prague of Rudolf 's time is mirrored in Leo *Perutz' noveld, Nacht unter der steinernen Bruecke, 1953.


Bondy-Dworský, 2 (1906), nos. 766, 772, 794, 798, 837, 874, 884, 894, 900, 923, 929, 951, 952, 967, 968, 969, 971, 995, 1017; A.F. Pribram, Urkunden und Akten zur Geschichte der Juden in Wien, 1 (1918), 34–37, passim, 38, 89, 208, 452; G. von Schwarzenfeld, Kaiser Rudolf II (1961); W. Pillich, in: J. Fraenkel (ed.), The Jews of Austria (1967), 5–8; idem, in: ZGJ, 4 (1967), 79–82; B. Brilling, ibid., 5 (1968), 21–26; J. Hráský, in: Judaica Bohemiae, 2 (1966), 19–40 (Fr.); Wischnitzer, in: JSOS, 16 (1954), 340–4; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 3 (1955), 233–4; H. Tietze, Die Juden Wiens (1935), index; P.J. Diamant, in: Archiv fuer juedische Familienforschung, 2 no. 1–3, 2 (1917), 17–24; and bibliography to article Meisel, Mordecai.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.