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Frank, Jacob

Jacob Frank, c.1726–1791, Polish Jewish sectarian and adventurer, b. Podolia as Jacob Ben Judah Leib. He founded the Frankists, a heretical Jewish sect that was an anti-Talmudic outgrowth of the mysticism of the false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi. After traveling in Turkey, where he was called Frank and where he joined the Sabbatean sect, he returned (c.1755) to Podolia. Posing as a Messiah, Frank gathered a following, by whom he was addressed as "holy master." Professing to find in the kabbalah the doctrine of Trinitarianism and feigning conversion to Roman Catholicism, he and the Frankists were baptized (1759). The church, however, soon became suspicious of its new converts' sincerity, and in 1760, Frank was arrested in Warsaw on a charge of heresy and imprisoned in the fortress of Czestochowa; he was released (1773) after that section of Poland became Russian. Moving to Moravia, he enjoyed the favor of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, who believed him a disseminator of Christianity. When she discovered his sectarianism, Frank fled to Offenbach, Germany, where he lived in luxury, supported by Polish and Moravian Frankists. Upon his death his daughter Eve became "holy mistress" of the Frankists. She died in 1816, and the sect eventually disappeared, most of its members having actually become Catholics. Many of them later became prominent members of the Polish nobility.

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Frank, Jacob

Frank, Jacob (1726–91). Founder of a Jewish sect. Born in Poland, Frank declared himself to be messiah and the successor of Shabbetai Zevi. He was excommunicated in 1756 after he had attracted many disciples and had been accused of encouraging sexual immorality. Jacob appealed to the bishop of Kamenetz-Podolsk who offered protection in exchange for the Frankists renouncing the Talmud. The Frankists also declared their belief in the Trinity of the three ‘equal faces’. Initially Frankists only married within the sect, but by the mid-19th cent., the number of mixed marriages increased and many of their descendants became prominent members of the Polish nobility.

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