Journal or Book Title
Sixteenth Century Studies
Existing historiography has created a historiographic ghetto, seldom considering Jewish sources and Jews as relevant to the larger narrative of European history. This has created two parallel, often disconnected areas of study, “European history” and “Jewish history.” Archival materials from across Europe strongly show that Jews and Christians resided side by side and interacted on a daily basis in early modern Europe. Reformation Strasbourg and post-Reformation Poland, two geographically and demographically diverse cases offer new insights about the past by including sources about Jews. In Reformation Strasbourg, cross-confessional collaboration was more frequent than previously imagined, as leaders of different Christian confessions jointly issued policies aimed at regulating daily interactions between Jews and Christians, despite the fact that they were simultaneously battling one another in the realm of faith and politics. In post-Reformation Poland, the physical presence of Jews recorded underscores their neighborly relations with Christians and further demonstrates the limits to the “success” of the Counter Reformation in Poland.
In recent decades, traditional views of Jewish isolation, lack of agency, and victimhood have been exploded. Scholars of Jewish history of various periods have increasingly recognized that the boundaries between Jews and non-Jews and between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures were not impermeable. These developments have led to new avenues of study, as well as to new insights and to heated scholarly debates about the development. The acknowledgement that the Jews were part of the societies in which they lived has been largely one-sided....[T[he tendency to compartmentalize “Jewish history” and “non-Jewish” history has imposed a separation of material that is in reality intrinsically related. The continued separation of these two fields creates, in effect, a type of “historiographic Jewish ghetto.” The irony of this “historiographic ghetto” is the fact that in most places and in most times, Jews did not reside in actual physical ghettos.