ROUEN , former capital of Normandy, capital of the department of Seine-Maritime, northern France. The presence of Jews in Rouen goes back to at least the early 11th century. Under Richard, duke of Normandy, Rouen Jewry suffered from the persecutions that affected the Jews of France in general beginning in 1007 or 1009. A notable of the town, Jacob b. Jekuthiel, interceded with Pope John xviii, who called for a cessation of the persecutions throughout France. With the exception of Metz, Rouen was the only locality in what is today France where several Jews were put to death and others forced to accept baptism at the time of the First Crusade. At that time, Rouen, like the rest of Normandy, was under the dominion of the English crown. It was probably to these Jews that the English king William ii (Rufus) granted the legal right to practice their faith. Archaeological discoveries in the 1970s and the study of manuscripts have revealed that, owing to the wrong identification of places mentioned in these manuscripts, many of them relating to Rouen (the capital of Normandy in the Middle Ages) were ascribed to other cities. The ancient Latin name Rothomagus was shortened in the Middle Ages to Rothoma or Rodom and the latter name was then variously transcribed as רדום ,רודם and רודום; those names were thereafter often wrongly copied as דרום ("south"), רודם, and דרוס. As a result, many documents and scholars belonging to Rouen were associated with such places as Rhodez in Languedoc and *Dreux, southwest of Paris. Thus, for example, Solomon b. Judah "the Saint" mentioned in the first edition of the Judaica as being at Dreux was actually of Rouen. As a result, Rouen is now known to have been the seat of a much more important Jewish community than was previously assumed. During the 12th century, the Jews of Rouen were placed under the authority of a local bailiff rather than under the commissioner of the Jews of Normandy, who may have been *Peter of Cluny mentioned in a number of documents as the "Jewish king of Rouen." A number of Jews from London owned houses in the Jewish quarter of Rouen, while some Jews of Rouen had debtors in England. Nevertheless, Rouen's Jews were engaged in moneylending to a lesser extent than the Jews of England. The Jewish quarter, the "Rue as Gyeus," became the modern Rue des Juifs. One house at the beginning of the street is said to have served as a synagogue and another as the school. The cemetery, situated outside the town, was referred to as Mont-aux-Juifs.
Rouen's return to French sovereignty in the 12th century appears to have been followed by a decline in the Jewish community, as evidenced by its modest contribution to the poll tax levied on the Jews of Normandy. A new and even smaller community was reestablished in Rouen after 1359. (Its existence is confirmed at the latest in about 1380.) After the "final" expulsion of Jews from France in 1394, there were no Jews in the city until the arrival of some *Marranos at the close of the 16th century. The fate of the community remained uncertain throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1605, 40 *Marrano Jews were living in Rouen, but by 1609 they had dispersed. A few years later a new wave of Marranos followed them. In the new community the family of Gonçalo Pinto Delgado (father of the poet Joâo Pinto *Delgado) played a principal role. In addition to merchants, the community also included several physicians. Although outwardly practicing Christian observances, the Jewish community of Rouen owned its own cemetery. From 1632, however, the so-called "Portuguese merchants" were accused of "Judaizing." In spite of several severe judgments against them, other Marranos continued to arrive in Rouen. In 1648 alone 20 new families settled in the city. Few Jews arriving in Rouen in the 17th century remained there, however. Those who came at the beginning of the 17th century eventually emigrated to Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg; while those arriving in the second half of the century left to join the new Jewish community in London. By the early 18th century the Marrano community had all but disappeared. In its place, a new Jewish community was established in mid-century, composed almost entirely of Alsatian Jews, who owned a cemetery from at least 1786. Another community was formed immediately after the French Revolution.
[Bernhard Blumenkranz and
Norman Golb /
David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]
The Rouen synagogue, destroyed during the bombardment in 1940, was rebuilt by the small community in 1950. The community grew to 500 members in 1960 and, after the influx of Jews from North Africa, numbered around 1,000 in 1971. In 1987, it was estimated that there were 1,200 Jews in the city. Rouen is the seat of a rabbinate.
Gross, Gal Jud, 622ff.; B. Blumenkranz, Juifs et Chrétiens (1960), 136; H.G. Richardson, English Jewry under Angevin Kings (1960), index; C. de Beaurepaire, in: Bulletin de la commission des antiquités de la Seine-Inférieure, 9 (1891/3), 196–200; 12 (1900/2), 89; I.S. Revah, in: Mélanges Isidore Lévy (1953), 539–52; C. Roth, in: rej, 88 (1929), 113–55; Z. Szajkowski, Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer (1966), 266; N. Golb, Toldot ha-Yahudim be-Ir Rouen bimei ha-Beinayim (History and Culture of the Jews of Medieval Rouen, 1976); idem, in: Archaeology, 30 (1977), 314–5; idem, in: Proceedingsof the American Academy for Jewish Research (1980), 100–1; B. Blumenkranz, Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres (1976), 663–7. add. bibliography: Guide du judaîsme français (1987), 39.
Located in the northwestern province of Normandy, Rouen was the leading port of Renaissance France and the country's second-largest city. The city's population grew from about 40,000 in 1500 to a peak of 75,000 in 1550. During these years, Rouen served as a major commercial hub, a seat of regional government, and a center of religious reform.
Rouen's ability to handle ocean-going ships made trade a key part of the economy. Local merchants had contacts with England, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Africa, and South America. Major industries included woolens and hosiery. However, restrictive guild* regulations eventually drove many wool and hosiery makers out of the urban area.
Rouen was an important administrative city as well. It had many royal courts and its archbishop oversaw more than 1300 parish churches. Yet, despite its commercial and political prominence, Rouen did not develop a large artistic or intellectual community. The city's main cultural event was an annual poetry contest in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Normandy emerged as a center of religious reform during the Protestant Reformation*. In 1557 Protestants founded a Reformed church in Rouen. Five years later, they took over the city and held it for six months. When Catholic troops regained control, they executed several of Rouen's Protestant leaders. Although the Reformed church reestablished itself and grew steadily, relations between Catholics and Protestants remained tense. In September 1572, a large massacre of Protestants occurred in Rouen. But after this the city escaped much of the religious violence that raged across France in the 1570s and 1580s. However, in 1589 Catholic activists took over Rouen, and three years later the city endured a five-month siege* by Protestant forces. Finally, in 1594 Rouen accepted the Catholic convert Henry of Navarre as king Henry IV, ending the civil wars in the region.
- * guild
association of craft and trade owners and workers that set standards for and represented the interests of its members
- * Protestant Reformation
religious movement that began in the 1500s as a protest against certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church and eventually led to the establishment of a variety of Protestant churches
- * siege
prolonged effort to force a surrender by surrounding a fortress or town with armed troops, cutting the area off from aid