The Long Data of European Jewish Expulsions
2013-09-21 0:00

By Samuel Arbesman |

As you might have realized, I love datasets of long timescale, ones that talk about Long Data. Well, here’s a doozy of a dataset: 700 years of European Jewish persecutions and expulsions. Forming the basis for a thought-provoking paper on SSRN titled “From the Persecuting to the Protective State? Jewish Expulsions and Weather Shocks from 1100 to 1800“—it explores whether there is a relationship between weather and growing season and the likelihood that the Jewish community would be expelled—is this incredibly detailed dataset culled from the Encyclopaedia Judaica. From the paper (further details about how the dataset was compiled are available in the appendix):
We collect city–level data on the presence of a Jewish community in Europe between 1100 to 1800 from the twenty-six volume Encyclopedia Judaica (2007). The Encyclopedia typically mentions when Jews entered a city, when they were persecuted, when they were expelled, and when they were allowed re-entry. We are interested in all of these pieces of information since in order to model the probability of an expulsion from a city, we need to know when that city had a Jewish population to expel.

The Encyclopedia provides a comprehensive measure of Jewish presence, persecution and expulsion for the whole of Europe. It does not contain information on all of the smaller Jewish communities that may have existed and it likely does not contain information on minor persecutions. Voigtländer and Voth (2012) uses more detailed data for Jewish persecutions in medieval Germany. But the two sources they employ only provide data for Germany. The Encyclopedia Judaica provides less detail but compensates for this with wider geographic and temporal coverage.
Here is a visualization of this unbelievable dataset:

The paper also includes a detailed discussion of Jewish persecution and expulsion in Medieval Europe:
It is important not to overstate the frequency with which Jewish communities were threatened with violence and pogroms—many Jewish communities lived in peace with their Christian neighbors for long periods of time. But as an economically dominant minority in poor and largely agrarian economies, and as outsiders in a society that increasingly aggressively defined itself in opposition to infidels and unbelievers, Jews often aroused jealousy and suspicion from others.
While the discussion is much more involved, here is a time series of these expulsions (along with temperature data), which highlights certain historical events and gives a sense of the expulsion frequency:

Unfortunately, the dataset doesn’t seem to be currently publicly available but I would love to see what further insights can be gleaned from this long data.

This article is written by By Samuel Arbesman for

Ed Comment: So yet another problem of global warming (and cooling) is pinpointed. Yes, it’s simply the weather’s fault! ; ) That is what drove those grumpy irrational "agrarian" medieval country bumpkin Europeans stir crazy! Glad that this mystery is sorted out then.

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