General introduction
Jews as Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
in The Jews in western Europe 1400–1600
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The instinct of most people would probably be to agree with the distinguished historian's assessment of the Jewish contribution to the history of Europe. Before its collapse in the fifth century, Jews seem to have lived in nearly all the provinces of the western Roman empire, with particularly prominent settlements in Italy itself, Spain, Gaul and what is now Germany. For the medieval Church, and for the Jews of the period, the implications of the 'conversion' of Constantine were to be of immense significance. The immense prestige of Augustine of Hippo and his writings ensured that, at least up to the twelfth century, there was no direct pressure for the elimination of Jews from Christian society, or for active efforts to be made to convert them. Augustine developed the image of the 'two cities', heavenly and earthly, in his greatest and best known work, The City of God.

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