Levi, Behrend

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LEVI, BEHREND (b. c. 1600), army purveyor during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48) and financial adviser and diplomatic agent to the elector of Brandenburg. In 1650 Frederick William, the great elector, appointed Behrend Levi as over-lord of all the Jews in the principalities of Brandenburg west of the River Elbe. This gave him authority to admit Jews, to fix their places of residence and tax rates, and to grant personal and business licenses. He collected the taxes of Halberstadt, Minden, Ravensburg, and Cleves Jewry, and rendered judgments in local disputes. An annual income accompanied the patent, which was renewed regularly. The Jews of Cleves and his rivals, such as the *Gomperz family, protested against his harsh methods and his authority was rescinded in 1652. A year earlier his brother, salomon levi, had procured for Behrend similar powers over Paderborn Jewry, but he was accused of embezzlement and once more of harsh rule and his authority was terminated in 1654. However, the great elector repeatedly supported his favorite and renewed his patent in 1657.


H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 1 (1953), 97–101; S. Stern, The Court Jew (1950), index, s.v.Levi, Bernd. add. bibliography: R. Ries and F. Battenberg, Hofjuden (2002), index.