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Swabian League

SWABIAN LEAGUE, league of free cities in S. Germany. First formed in 1331, the league continued to exist in various forms for two centuries. Under the leadership of *Ulm, 14 cities were the basis of the revitalized league of 1376. When Charles IV put a ban on Jud *Jaecklin, a Jewish moneylender who had lent large sums to Ulm and to other member cities, Ulm refused to turn him over to the authorities, since Jaecklin had helped the city to increase its territory by forcing indebted nobles to sell their estates to it. Charles IV waged war against Ulm but was forced to acknowledge defeat, recognize the league, and repeal the ban. In 1384 the Jewish community of *Noerdlingen, a member city, was massacred and persecutions also took place in Windsheim and Weissenburg. The league forced the latter cities to indemnify the victims and ordered Noerdlingen to return the confiscated books of deceased Jews. The council of Noerdlingen procrastinated and finally paid a sum to the emperor *Wenceslaus in order to obtain a pardon; as a result, Noerdlingen was ejected from the league. Emperor Wenceslaus, who was deeply in debt and interested in enriching his treasury, opened negotiations with the league. The result of these negotiations (in which the Rhenish league also took part) was the decision to liquidate a portion of all debts owed to Jews (Judenschuldentilgung). On June 10, 1385 the cities agreed not to harbor any nonlocal refugee Jews. All Jews were arrested on June 16, 1385, and their books confiscated. The emperor received 40,000 gulden from the cities, but the total financial benefit was actually greater. The debts of the nobility were transferred to the cities for payment. Five years later. however, Wenceslaus declared a total moratorium on debts owed to Jews. This act in favor of the nobles was in effect a blow against the cities of the league, which lost much potential revenue as a result. In the process of Wenceslaus' financial manipulations, many Jews were ruined.


A Suessmann, Judenschuldentilgungen unter Koenig Wenzel (1907), index S.V. Schwaebischer Bund; H. Dicker, Geschichte der Juden in Ulm (1937), 25–40; L. Wallach in: HJ, 8 (1946), 184–6; Baron, Social2, 12 (1967), 194–6; I. Stein, Juden der schwaebischen Reichsstaedte im Zeitalter Koenig Sigmunds: 141037 (1902).

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