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MONTBÉLIARD: (Doubs département, Franch-Comté, Bourgogne) see HEGENHEIM and Besançon PDF Print E-mail
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Also spelled Montbélliard. This commune in the Doubs département in eastern France with a population of 27,500 is one of the two sous-préfectures of the département. Mentioned first in 985 as Mons Beliardae, it became a county of the Holy Roman Empire in the 11th century and has been for centuries one of the few Protestant (specifically Lutheran) enclaves in France. The town is primarily known for automobile manufacturing. Synagogue at Rue de la Synagogue, 25200 MONTBELIARD. Président: M. Patrick Bernheim. 31, rue Guynemer - 25200 MONTBELIARD, Tél 01-47-20-82-12 à Paris. Burials may be in Hegenheim. This ancient province of France, also called "Haute-Bourgogne" or "Comté de, Bourgogne" is now divided into the départements of Haute-Saône, Doubs, and Jura. L little mention of Jews in Franche-Comté before the thirteenth century is found. Not until Philip Augustus drove them out of France at the end of the twelfth century and at the time of the wars of Méranie, did they begin to settle here and very soon attracted the suspicion of the clergy. Scarcely half a century after their arrival, a new sect came into existence, called "Judaizing Christians" because they observed Saturday instead of Sunday and refused baptism. The general Council of Lyons (1245) took action against these heretics; and the Bishop of Besançon was asked to watch over Jewish propaganda and to compel every Jew in his diocese to wear a badge. Twenty years, later Pope Clement IV addressed a bull to Jean de Chalon (the "Sire de Salins," who was almost incontestably master of the county of Burgundy) to incite his zeal against the Vaudois and Judaizing Christians. The diocesan statutes contained clauses forbidding Christians to engage Jewish servants (especially nurses, because [purportedly] they taught children to hate the Christian religion). The clergy kept Jews at a distance from ecclesiastical domains; for instance, the curé of Luxeuil changed the day of the hay market to Saturday to prevent the Jews from taking part in it. The nobles, however, made advances to them, partly perhap, because the Jews were an important source of revenue. Jean I de Vergy, Sire of Champlitte and Autrey, took the Jews under his special protection, gave them safe-conducts, and even released them from statute labor, from paying tolls, from the riding-tax, and from other imposts. The members of each organized community paid an annual tax, varying from twenty to one hundred sols. Continually at strife with one another or with the King of France or even with the Emperor of Germany, most of the nobles of Franche-Comté were in debt and needed Jewish money. About 1296, Jews furnished money to Chalon-Arlay and the Count of Montbéliard to support them in their struggle with Philip the Fair. At this time, the material condition of the Jews appears to have been fairly prosperous since they had open accounts at Vesoul, Besançon, Gray, Salins, etc. Many of the nobles pawned their domains with the Jews. Thus, the market-town of Marnay, which belonged to the important family of Chalon, was given over to the Jews of Dôle and Villars for five years. One rich Jew of Vesoul, Elias or Helyon, was the creditor of the greatest nobles of Franche-Comté. Vesoul was a center for money-changers and must have contained a large contingent of Jews. A beautiful synagogue stood in the center of the town and was still in existence in the sixteenth century, as was the house of Helyon. The general expulsion of Jews in 1306 does not appear to have affected those in Bourgogne, though their commerce received a blow from which it never recovered. But soon the Jews of Franche-Comté also were forced into exile; they and the lepers were accused of poisoning the wells. Their goods were confiscated. The house of Helyon was given by Queen Jeanne, wife of Philip the Tall, to a lady of her suite, who sold it at the death of the queen and built a chapel with the proceeds. Most of the exiles went to Besançon, at that time an imperial city, thus escaping the authority of the King of France. It is possible that a certain number were allowed to remain on relinquishing their claims to the debts due them. But the exiles soon returned to Franche-Comté. In 1331, at the death of Queen Jeanne, the county of Burgundy passed into the hands of Duke Eudes, but the queen's will caused dissatisfaction; and all the barons arose against him. He had need of the Jews, and recalled them. The account of expenditures in 1332-33 shows that their number was increased by thirty-two families. In 1348, however, the Black Death broke out. The Jews of Franche-Comté were expelled after impound of their property. From October 28 to 30, they proceeded to arrest the Jews of the bailiwick of Amont (Haute-Saôte) and to take an inventory of their possessions; but the revenue département, which wished to refill its empty treasury, was disappointed. Certain Jews of Vesoul, Symon, Rubininer, and Hebrelin escaped, but were recaptured and imprisoned. Some of them were hidden. Finally, after about one hundred days of imprisonment and everything that could be found was taken from them, the ducal treasury received a net increase of 494 florins. On Jan. 27, 1349, furnished with a safe-conduct, the Jews were driven out of the county of Burgundy and escorted as far as Montbozon. A short time afterward, the Jews of Doubs, Jura, and Montbéliard were ordered to leave within five months. It is doubtful whether this decree was ever executed because in 1355 the Archbishop of Besançon renewed the ordinance against the employment of Christian servants. From this time on, there is little mention of Jews. In 1360, Manasseh of Vesoul, who negotiated the return of the Jews to France at this time, settled in Paris where he became steward to the king. In 1374 the Jews were driven out of Salins. On Nov. 21, 1384, Philip the Bold regulated the status of the Jews. He permitted fifty-two families to settle in the towns of his domain on payment of an entrance fee and an annual tax. He fixed the rate of interest; henceforth a Jew was to be believed on his oath and the evidence of a single apostate was declared invalid. The leaders of the Jews were called "masters of law". The Jewish cemetery was separated from the others. A noble of the court was instituted guardian of the Jews. The general expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394 put an end to their presence in Franche-Comté. Israel Lévi proved that a certain number of well-known rabbis lived in this province in the first half of the fourteenth century, e.g, Joseph b. Jacob Tournoy and Joseph de Musidan. Synagogue photos is at  [January 2008]


Lombard Village: Jean I de Chalon-Arlay established a Jewish colony near his château in the village of Lombard. There is still an ancient cemetery in this vicinity in which the skeletons are found face downward, a tradition recognized as the old Jewish cemetery.


1384 Jewish Cemetery: A separate Jewish cemetery was established.

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