1431 +: The Council of Basel “forbade Jews to go to universities, prohibited them from acting as agents in the conclusion of contracts between Christians, and required that they attend church sermons.” 5
1434: “Jewish men in Augsburg had to sew yellow buttons to their clothes. Across Europe, Jews were forced to wear a long undergarment, an overcoat with a yellow patch, bells and tall pointed yellow hats with a large button on them.” 1
1453 : The Franciscan monk, Capistrano, persuaded the King of Poland to terminate all Jewish civil rights.
1478: Spanish Jews had been heavily persecuted from the 14th century. Many had converted to Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition was set up by the Church in order to detect insincere conversions. Laws were passed that prohibited the descendants of Jews or Muslims from attending university, joining religious orders, holding public office, or entering any of a long list of professions.
1492 : Jews were given the choice of being baptized as Christians or be banished from Spain. 300,000 left Spain penniless. Many migrated to Turkey, where they found tolerance among the Muslims. Others converted to Christianity but often continued to practice Judaism in secret.
1497: Jews were banished from Portugal. 20 thousand left the country rather than be baptized as Christians.
1516: The Governor of the Republic of Venice decided that Jews would be permitted to live only in one area of the city. It was located in the South Girolamo parish and was called the “Ghetto Novo.” This was the first ghetto in Europe. Hitler made use of the concept in the 1930’s.
1523: Martin Luther distributed his essay "That Jesus Was Born a Jew. " He hoped that large numbers of Jews would convert to Christianity. They didn’t, and he began to write and preach hatred against them. Luther has been condemned in recent years for being extremely antisemitic. The charge has some merit; however he was probably typical of most Christians during his era.
1539: A passion play was forbidden in Rome because it prompted violent attacks against the city’s Jewish residents. 9
1540: Jews were exiled from Naples.
1543: In his 20’s, Martin Luther, had expected Jews to convert to Christianity in large numbers. Distressed by their reluctance, he developed a hatred for Jews, as expressed in his letters to Rev. Spalatin in 1514, when he was 31 years of age. He wrote:
“I have come to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God and his King Christ, as all the prophets have predicted…For they are thus given over by the wrath of God to reprobation, that they may become incorrigible, as Ecclesiastes says, for every one who is incorrigible is rendered worse rather than better by correction.” 6
In 1543, he wrote “On the Jews and their lies, On Shem Hamphoras” :
"…eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God’s anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!..What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?
First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire,…
Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed… They ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like Gypsies.
Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught.
Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…
Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews…
Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury. All their cash and valuables of silver and gold ought to be taken from them and put aside for safe keeping…
Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the axe, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses as in enjoined upon Adam’s children…
To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jews." 7