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Court factor

There were several court factors living in the Judengasse.
Individual members of the Oppenheim and Wertheimer families in particular made dazzling careers for themselves as court factors.

In Germany, court factors were a phenomenon of the 17th and 18th centuries, when the absolute right of princes was at its pinnacle.
As agents of the princes their influence was often as great in practice as if they had been ministers.
However, they remained independent businessmen, which made them the key financial and economic advisers of the princes.
They helped the princes pursue their interests by providing money and supplies (particu larly military, but also including luxury articles for the ruler's personal use), generally on a very large scale.
They carried the full risk of their business.

Most court factors were Jews.
Apparently, as members of a minority subject to extensive discrimination, the Jews were more willing to engage in this risky activity.
In addition, their restriction earlier to moneychanging and moneylending gave them the necessary financial experience.
Finally, their farreaching family connections were very helpful here.
The position of a Jewish court factor involved on the one hand the prospect of large profit and significant influence on the policy of their princes and on the other hand a dependence on the continuing goodwill of the prince which carried a high level of personal risk.
The most famous Jewish court factor was Josef Oppenheimer, known as "Jew Süss", in Württemberg.
His fate was a perfect example of the potential success and tragedy involved.






© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources