14-MAYER AMSCHEL ROTHSCHILD

Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the greatest man who ever lived, though almost completely unknown to most of us, was born in 1744 in the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto of Judengasse. In August, 1770, when he married, he was already wealthy enough to have the open street sewer replaced by state of the art sewers running behind the rows of high narrow houses on either side of the street, making sure plenty of fresh water from the Main River flowed through them.

When he was eleven, his parents, who lived in Judengasse, had sent him off to a yeshiva near Nuremberg to study the Torah in the hope of his becoming a rabbi. Unfortunately, they died during a smallpox epidemic, and he was orphaned at twelve. That’s when his future father-in-law, Wolf Salomon Schnapper, contacted Wolf Jacob Oppenheimer in Hanover and asked him if he would take in the young man as an apprentice in his bank.

At the Oppenheimer Bank, everybody thought very highly of him because he had developed, thanks to his father, a very quick mind when it came to handling money and buying and selling rare coins. Then, he got his first big break. Frederic II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, needed a favor. His court Jew was Jacob Oppenheimer, and he had sent for him because he was worried about his son William. Frederic had converted to Catholicism, and his Protestant wife had divorced him. When his father, the previous landgrave, died in 1760, he had sent Frederic to Kassel and given the principality of Hanau to his grandson William. William had been raised a Calvinist, and the thriving Calvinist community in Hanau wanted nothing to do with Frederic and Catholics.

The Calvinists, also called Huguenots, came from France. They were the great businessmen of the day. The French kings, had always enforced the ‘one God, one king, one nation’ concept, and for centuries the Catholic Church had persecuted and massacred those who didn’t agree. After repeated atrocities committed against them, hundreds of thousands of Huguenots migrated to more clement lands, places like the Netherlands, Hesse-Hanau, England, America and South Africa. Having endured unspeakable ills at the hands of the papist kings, Huguenots developed a deep hatred for Catholics, and by the same token, became more tolerant towards Jews.

Because of William’s young age, Frederic’s English ex-wife, Mary, was made regent. In wanting to protect William, in spite of his feelings for his ex-wife, Frederic decided to provide him with a financial advisor. He had hoped that Jacob Oppenheimer would personally take on the job. But because Hanau was five days by stagecoach from Hanover, Jacob told him it wasn’t practical for him to do so and recommended Mayer instead.

Frederic knew that Mayer lived in Frankfurt which was near Hanau. He also knew that Mayer had met his son William when they were boys. When Frederic had been Prince of Hanau, Mayer had accompanied his father Moses on one of his trips to the principality. His father had rare coins to offer Frederic who happened to be an avid coin collector. Young William had been curious about Mayer’s clothes and had wanted to have a yellow star like the one stitched to his coat. William never forgot the boy with the funny clothes.

Frederic remembered him as well, but because he was still only nineteen, he wondered how much wisdom and experience that young man could have. After being assured by Jacob that the Oppenheimer Bank would stand behind him and advise him, Frederic agreed to meet with him, and was satisfied with what he saw. Mayer then went to Hanau to meet with William and his mother who were quite pleased with him as well. So, Mayer started putting the principality’s finances in order, and unavoidably, he met General von Estorff who had been sent by Frederic to take charge of the principality’s troops. Hanau was a garrison city, but Mayer didn’t yet know what that implied.

He was becoming a sort of a one-man branch of the Oppenheimer Bank, and things were going smoothly when he found out why Frederic had sent the general to Hanau. For years, Hesse-Kassel had been receiving huge annual retainer fees from England in order to keep an army of Hessian soldiers at the ready. Up until then, the soldiers had been mainly recruited in Kassel. However, in wanting to improve Prince William’s finances, Frederic, who was now Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, figured that more soldiers could be recruited in Hanau. Huge sums of money representing that portion of retainer fees due Hanau were sent to William, and Mayer suddenly had the responsibility of managing millions of thalers. He had taken it in stride and had made sound investments. With the help of the court Jews in the ghetto, he got the highest return on the investments, and he gave Prince William useful advice regarding expenditures. He was much appreciated and was given the official title of court Jew which allowed him to get married.

Frederic was related to the English King who was thinking of using Hessian soldiers in America. In an armed conflict, the English Parliament could intervene more quickly without having to explain everything to taxpayers, thereby avoiding arousing passions. The English parliamentarians preferred having German troops fighting English settlers, and by paying a retainer fee to Hesse-Kassel, they could have troops on the ground at a very short notice and at a much lesser cost.

Prince William used the huge retainer fees to improve the infrastructure of the Principality of Hanau. He always paid Mayer well, and the recruits received their pay whether in training or on active duty. When they were required to go and fight, they did so for a specified amount of time, and Mayer made sure their families were properly compensated.

William’s father, Frederic, maintained around ten thousand troops in Kassel, and William, with the help of General von Estorff, maintained around two thousand in Hanau. The Oppenheimer Bank had always invested the retainer fees for Frederic, but in wanting to help his son, it was now Mayer who was investing the huge sums handed over to William in Hanau. Mayer made huge commissions, and after convincing the Prince that Hanau should have its own mint, it was set up in the Walloon House, also called the Goldsmiths’ House, a building adjacent to the castle.

The silver bullion coming in from Kassel represented millions of thalers, and most of it had to be minted and invested by Mayer, and his personal fortune increased dramatically. Court Jews invested money for the princes, but also lent them money, and very often commissions weren’t paid and loans not repaid. On a whim, the princes would even do away with the court Jew altogether. The horrible execution of Joseph Suss Oppenheimer just a few years back in Stuttgart was still fresh in everybody’s mind. But although Prince William was an honorable man, Mayer decided to be secretive and keep his personal business to himself, just in case. He was not at all interested in flaunting his talents or his wares, he just wanted to be the best he could be at what he was doing. Nobody knew how much money he had, they just knew he wasn’t poor. Humility was a better route in reaching one’s goals anyway. As far as Mayer was concerned, the most important thing in the world was to have a family, and to live among a trusting caring people, for if one didn’t have that, he had nothing.

But he was ambitious, and since Frederic, William and Jacob had full confidence in him, he decided to make them a proposition. The German people weren’t united, and there were hundreds of principalities who did as they pleased with currency, so Mayer decided to standardize the thaler in the State of Hesse. In other words, he wanted to mint a thaler that would be accepted throughout the state and beyond. Because Frederic and William, thanks to the English, had more silver bullion than any other German prince, and because Frankfurt, one of the most important German trading center, was in Hesse, his initiative was bound to succeed.

13-INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

The Anglican religion, England’s state religion, can hardly be called protestant like the Lutheran or Calvinist religions, it’s a pseudo Catholic religion. When King Henry VIII personally replaced the Pope as head of the Church of England, he and the country remained very much Catholic. In time, that church was strongly influenced by the Puritans and the Lollards who had followed John Wycliffe’s teachings and wanted to change the liturgy, but it remained true to its Roman Catholic roots. The strong anti-royalist or anti-papist feelings in England in the 17th century were a sign of the growing opposition to Church abuse, of course, but the Catholic Church’s demise was mainly due to the work of the Jews and the Huguenots who had created the East India Company in Amsterdam, in 1602. As the company dominated world trade, its owners became very powerful, and they were more determined than ever to destroy their mortal enemy, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Ancien Regimes of Europe.

When Charles I was decapitated in 1649, it marked the beginning of the end for the Absolute Kings of Divine Right and the Ancien Regime of England. At that time, the East India Company effectively controlled the economy of the Netherlands, but it had always wanted to move its headquarters from Amsterdam to the City in London. However, because Cromwell had disappointed his sponsors when he failed to establish a proper parliamentary system in England, they had had to postpone democracy for another 40 years until the circumstances were favorable for William and Mary to wear the crown.

In 1694, once established in the City at the helm of the Bank of England, investment in research and development (R&D) could start in earnest. Because they were sure to have their loans repaid in a timely and just fashion, they invested with abandon and launched what became known as the Industrial Revolution. Thanks to ready credit, the English economy became dynamic, and European know-how flowed into the country. The bankers then started financing infrastructure projects in order to facilitate tax collection, internal trade, commerce and exchange of ideas. However, developing road and canal transport didn’t happen overnight, and the Industrial Revolution had to wait for the steam engine to really get started.

Denis Papin, a Huguenot from Hesse, had developed the cylinder and piston concept as early as 1695, but the use of steam was not fully exploited until James Watt invented the condenser in 1765. The Industrial Revolution coincided with the creation of the Bank of North America and Elie Whitney’s mindboggling invention, the cotton gin with interchangeable parts, in 1781. The main industry of the times, cotton, had experienced a great leap forward with the invention of the flying shuttle in 1733, the spinning Jenny in 1764, and the spinning frame in 1769, but it was the use of steam power and the invention of the cotton gin that revolutionized the greatest industry of the times.

On the iron side of things, railroads started being built in early 19th century, but the rails were made with wrought iron and were not durable. Sir Henry Bessemer, another Huguenot, changed all that when he invented a steel making process in 1856. In his blast furnaces, air oxidized and raised the temperature of the molten pig iron, while a small quantity of molten pig iron containing manganese was added and converted the whole large mass of molten iron into steel in just minutes, without the need for any additional fuel. That’s when track started being laid non-stop across Europe and America. In 1876, limestone was added to draw out phosphorous and make the steel less brittle, turning it into the wondrous material we know today.

Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1844, Elias Howe, the sewing machine, in 1846, Graham Bell, the telephone, in 1876, Thomas Edison, the light bulb in 1879, Galileo Ferraris & Nikola Tesla, the A/C motor in 1888, and Charles Steinmetz, the A/C transformer in 1893. When George Westinghouse bought Tesla’s invention and started distributing A/C electrical current over long distances, the whole world lit up.

The Bank of England created in 1694 was the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution, but it didn’t get started until steam power became a functional everyday reality. But more was to come. Because the Bank of England was made up of dozens of private bankers, it didn’t speak with one voice, and though the bankers had become very powerful, they had also become very English, and very parochial. It wasn’t until the first genuine international banker created the Bank of North America in 1781, and officially took over the English monetary system in 1810, did the world have an international financial institution that spoke with one voice. Today, two hundred years after that takeover, we are the ones who enjoy the benefits of the great market economies made possible by that man and his dynasty.

12-GLORIOUS REVOLUTION

The word revolution is a banker’s term. It was used by the owners of the East India Company when they launched their first revolution, in England, in 1688. It was called the Glorious Revolution. A revolution is a well-planned, well-financed affair that succeeds and is permanent in nature. It is always part of a bigger plan for a better world. The Glorious, Industrial, American and French revolutions are all interrelated, and they opened the door to the great world we live in today. A war, an uprising, a rebellion, a revolt, or a military coup can only be called a revolution if it succeeds and is permanent in nature, in other words, if it has the international financiers’ approval.

When the owners of the East India Company decided to finance the construction of the chateau de Versailles, it was with the aim of destroying the Holy Roman Empire. Naturally, they started with the most obvious target, France, its crown jewel. The construction of the chateau was the first step in a long series of events that would lead to the French Revolution. Construction of the chateau began in 1661, and by 1678, it looked like the chateau we know today. Once things were well under way in France, the owners of the East India Company turned their full attention to the upcoming Glorious Revolution. In 1688, that revolution would give England a constitutional monarchy, and the world a new form of government called democracy.

After his father’s execution in 1649, Charles II of England had fled to the Netherlands where he had lived in exile until he had been invited back in 1660 after Cromwell’s demise. He subsequently wore the English crown from 1660 until his death in 1685. As the shareholders of the East India Company had expected, much of England grumbled under his rule because he was for letting Catholics sit in parliament, and because he had befriended King Louis XIV of France. The shareholders of the East India Company, who effectively ran the Netherlands, did their best to encourage the antipapist feelings, hoping to have him deposed and replaced with a constitutional monarch. When, in 1672, king Charles asked Louis XIV to do him a favor and declare war on the Netherlands, it was time to act and figure out a plan.

Since Charles II had no legitimate heir, his younger brother, James II, a catholic, was next in line. They would wait for Charles’ term to run out, while continuing to stoke anti-royalist feelings among English parliamentarians. Then, since James II had a daughter who was being raised as an Anglican, arranging a marriage between her and William III seemed to be a good long-term goal. As a Catholic, James II would be easy to overthrow, and when the time came, the crown would be handed to Mary who was next in line.

In 1677, the marriage between Mary II of England and William III of Orange was celebrated in St. James Palace, and it wasn’t a happy affair. At fifteen, an arranged marriage with a much older and repulsive William was not meant to make Mary happy, and she cried throughout the whole ceremony. She had a very unhappy life, especially while in the Netherlands, where she lived for the first eleven years of their marriage. William was a homosexual who spent most of his time leading a double life away from home, and Mary spent all that time in a castle on the outskirts of The Hague. She returned to England in 1688 after the “Immortal Seven” invited her and her husband to come to England and wear the crown. William landed in England with a small army, and he marched on London without hardly firing a shot. James II took off for France, and parliament subsequently declared the crown vacant. William and Mary were then both offered the crown after signing the Bill of Rights which precluded that they submit to parliament’s authority and have no catholic descendants. That series of events is known in the history books as the Glorious Revolution.

However, that was only half of what was to be democracy, England now needed a financial institution. And as it so happened, not about to throw in the towel, and wanting James II to reclaim the crown of England, the Pope gave the financiers the perfect opportunity to create the Bank of England. The French king’s powerful navy gave the English navy a good drubbing as it went about invading England by way of Ireland. Naturally, the English parliament was asked by King William to retaliate and build a strong navy. But since no public funds were available, and since the credit of William III’s government was non-existent, it was impossible for parliament to borrow the huge sums needed. The East India Company shareholders were waiting for just that moment. They readily offered to become private subscribers providing they be incorporated into a company that would be known as the Bank of England. The bank was to be given exclusive lending rights to the government, and it was to be the only entity allowed to issue bank notes or coin money. Once the conditions were accepted, the necessary funds were raised in a matter of days, and the private financial institution known to this day as the Bank of England was created

For the first time in the history of mankind, the bankers were sure of being repaid in an orderly and just fashion. Parliament got rid of the antiquated Farmers’ General tax collection system inherited from France and proceeded to develop the country’s infrastructure in order to be better able to collect taxes. The shareholders of the East India Company had wanted an autonomous parliament because they were banking on a human foible whereby the people’s representatives, once their political campaigns, elections and salaries properly funded, would want to prove their worth and do things before taxes were collected. Since the Bank of England’s shareholders, now established in the City and in control of the English monetary system, could accept or refuse to finance the parliamentarians’ projects, they indirectly controlled all important developments in the country. That was democracy then, just as it today, and it’s the owners of the East India Company who created the concept. Democracy can only work if the concerned country is indebted, and a democracy is always indebted.

If democracy has proven itself to be the best political system in the world, it’s because people representation and monetary control are separate. The people’s representatives manage things while the bankers decide what’s to be managed by increasing or decreasing the flow of credit. If the one who prints the money is the same as the one who spends it, that is, if the parliamentarians do the printing and the spending, the system can only implode.

11-VERSAILLES

 

France had so many indirect taxes, and they were so complex, that the king, who was forever broke, was quite happy to farm out the tax-collecting chores to accelerate cash flow. The Farmers General, as they were called, would buy a six-year lease for a price corresponding to the total amount of taxes they deemed they could collect in that period of time. Obviously, the estimates were always on the low side, but the king, forever short of money and anxious to get at these huge upfront sums of money, wasn’t inclined to negotiate to any great extent. As one would expect, since the Farmers General kept all the taxes collected and acted in the name of the king, they used very aggressive tactics in dealing with the citizens.

The Farmers General became fabulously rich, pocketing as much as half of the total taxes paid out by the citizens. They would also routinely coerce and blackmail the producers in order to buy their goods at ridiculously low prices, and then they would sell the same goods to city merchants at the other end at exorbitant prices. They were the most hated men of the realm and much of the bitterness was directed at the king, for they acted in his name. When a finance minister was to be named, they directly influenced the king in his choice, thus getting the most accommodating candidate. When Nicolas Fouquet was named Superintendent of Finances, the East India Company shareholders were offered a great opportunity.

Louis XIV was a born megalomaniac, and in 1661, he was humiliated by Nicolas Fouquet who was suspected of having doubtful dealings with the Farmers General. Fouquet had invited the king to his magnificent château de Vaux-le-Vicomte that he had just built, and the king upon seeing the magnificence and the beauty of the domain, not only envied his achievement but wondered where all the money to build it had come from. Smelling a rat, he confiscated Fouquet’s assets and threw him in prison.

The shareholders of the East India Company seized the opportunity and relieved the King’s rancour by making all necessary credit available through third parties so that he could build the most sumptuous kingly residence in the world, the chateau de Versailles. Louis XIV proceeded to hire the great artisans that had created the château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, architect Louis Le Vau, painter Charles Le Brun, and garden designer André le Nôtre, and construction began.

By this time, the owners of the East India Company were the masters of international trade and commerce and their navy ruled the oceans of the world. The shareholders of the East India Company were Jews and Huguenots, and although they were business men and bankers first and foremost, they harbored a festering hatred directed at the Holy Roman Empire, the politico-religious institution that had persecuted them for centuries. They were intent on bringing it down, and the obvious starting point was France, the cornerstone of that empire. In financing the construction of the chateau de Versailles, they were looking well ahead. They had found a way to divide in order to better conquer when the time came. By separating the seat of power from the people, Versailles was twenty kilometers from Paris, the king would become vulnerable. Eventually, Versailles would be perceived as a den of vipers living off the misery of the people, and the King would easily be brought down. The occult financing of the chateau de Versailles by the Amsterdam financiers was the seed that would develop into the French Revolution a hundred years later.

By 1789, bread continued to be the most important ingredient in a Frenchman’s diet. It was central to people’s lives, and though it was the corrupt Farmers General who controlled the supply of cereal and created famines, the bakers were the ones perceived as profiting from dearth and famine and making huge profits by selling this vital commodity at a high price. Bakers were often accused of hoarding stocks and were frequently assaulted. Being lynched became the occupational hazard of bakers. So, limiting the supply of cereal was a very easy way to create unrest in the major urban centers.

There was such unrest in the realm when the tennis court oath under the leadership of Mirabeau in June, 1789, the taking of the Bastille under the sponsorship of Louis-Phillippe d’Orléans in July, and the March on Versailles under the guard of Lafayette in October, were carried out. These incidents were obviously organized by well-paid East India Company agents, and the March on Versailles is perhaps the one that best shows that. In October of that year, a very odd crowd of transvestites went to Versailles to fetch the royal family, “the baker, the baker’s wife, and the baker’s apprentice” as their chant went. The untypically aggressive ‘ladies’ even entered the royal residence while Lafayette and his mounted guard made no attempt to stop them. How such an ungainly disguised group could go to Versailles, capture and bring back the royals to Paris with Lafayette’s National Guard standing by is a mystery that the history books fail to examine.

The East India Company was established in 1600 and was made up of patient and determined men. It took control of international commerce as early as 1624 when it established a foothold on the shores of the Hudson River in America and especially when it took possession of Cape Town in 1652. The owners created democracy by financing an independent parliament in 1689, and creating the Bank of England in 1694. Sure of having their loans repaid by the people’s parliament, they financed unlimited research and development which became known as the Industrial Revolution.

Following a hundred years of mindboggling growth and wealth, they were ready to launch the French Revolution in 1789. In 1810, even though the Bank of England was taken over by the banking dynasty that had created the Bank of North America in 1781, the transition was harmonious, and investments in R&D continued to grow exponentially worldwide. The dynasty that took control of the Bank of England and the City then is the same that rules the financial world today, and we should consider ourselves very fortunate indeed.

10-EAST INDIA COMPANY

 

In the Netherlands, William the Silent, also known as William of Nassau and Prince of Orange, was a robust champion of Protestantism who encouraged thousands of Jews, new Christians as he called them, and Huguenots, Christian Protestants from France, to migrate to Amsterdam. Thanks to this influx, Amsterdam became the trading capital of the world and the Dutch ruled the oceans for much of the 17th century.

Sephardim were money men while Huguenots were entrepreneurs, and together, they formed a formidable team. They created the East India Company in 1600, in London. but in 1602 they decided to move their headquarters to Amsterdam. Even though Jews and Protestants had been free to enter England, a development that had started under Henry VIII, the people were still very much brainwashed by the old ideas of the Roman Church. So, because the Marranos weren’t free to practise their religion, and because Protestants were still viewed as enemies, the company shareholders decided to set up their headquarters in Amsterdam.

Once established in Amsterdam, they got right down to business. In order to protect the North American fur trade, the company shareholders built a fort at the tip of Manhattan in 1609 which would become New Amsterdam in 1624, and later, New York. In 1652, they expanded and created a colony on the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, in order to protect the spice trade with Asia. The Dutch East India Company ruled the waves, and its founders, Jews and Huguenots, became so rich and powerful, that they could start planning the demise of the Holy Roman Empire.

But they hadn’t given up on re-establishing the company’s headquarters in London, for England was across the channel from France and its economy had much more potential. However, before they could return, they would have to find a way to get rid of the papist kings and get a king that would accept parliamentary rule. As it so happened, there were strong anti-royalist feelings in the English parliament, and the word Catholic was starting to be used to distinguish the papist followers from the Anglicans. Because Charles I, a Catholic, had just been crowned after marrying the Catholic Bourbon Princess Henrietta, it wouldn’t be too difficult to finance an army that would answer to an anti-royalist parliament, defeat the catholic king, and force him to accept parliamentary rule. The country was ripe for civil war.

Oliver Cromwell came to the financiers’ attention in 1642, when he joined the roundheads, the pro-parliamentarians. At the outset of what became known as the English civil war, he distinguished himself militarily and was subsequently promoted to commander of the New Model Army. Over the next few years, the royalist forces were defeated, and when Charles 1, the divine right king, was captured following a battle in Scotland in 1645, he was handed over to the English parliament which was under the protection of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. However, Charles refused to accept a constitutional monarchy and escaped. In 1647, he was recaptured, and in 1648, he was tried, convicted and executed. Cromwell then dominated the Rump Parliament created in 1649.

But Oliver Cromwell was a puritan fanatic who had been extremely aggressive towards Ireland and Scotland, both catholic strongholds. Not able or not wanting to work with the Irish and Scottish parliamentarians, he simply dissolved parliament. After assuming the title of Lord Protector of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, he turned the powerful English navy against the very financiers that had financed it, the shareholders of the Dutch East India Company. He wanted England to take charge of the Atlantic trade. Of course, that was not to be, and Cromwell was doomed.

When Cromwell died from natural causes in 1658, his inept son couldn’t hold the Protectorate together, and the Convention Parliament decided to recall the Catholic kings. During the Restoration period (1660-1688), two kings of divine right, the two sons of Charles I, James II and Charles II, ruled in turn and fought the East India Company for trade supremacy.

The Jews and Huguenots both in Amsterdam and in London had to find a way to put a stop to the fratricidal naval wars and especially to the rule of papist kings in England. An arranged marriage between William of the House of Orange and Mary of the House of Stuart would be a very good way to do just that. In the interim, the financiers turned their attention to France.

9-HUGUENOTS

The Christian Church was intolerant and sanguinary from the very beginning and it fostered much hate throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The absolute kings of divine right, anointed by the Pope, ruled over the different parts of the empire and not only persecuted the Jews, the ‘Christ killers’, but all those who refused to follow the Roman Church’s liturgy as well. For instance, the Pope would suggest the need for a crusade, and the kings and nobles fearing excommunication, or wanting to earn their passage into heaven, would be quick to raise an army, France leading the way. The first crusade was against the Muslims in 1099. After slaughtering the Muslims in Jerusalem, the French conquered Palestine and established the Kingdom of Jerusalem which lasted until 1291. In 1209, Pope Innocent III asked the French king to carry out a crusade against his own people, the Cathars, and it lasted from 1209 to 1229. The Cathars were completely annihilated down to the last ‘good man’ who was executed in 1231, more than a million in all. All this because the peaceful Cathars refused to accept the Roman Church’s liturgy.

The Church committed so many atrocities and was so inflexible that opposition to it could only grow. So, when Gutenberg’s printing press came along in 1440, it slowly paved the way for the Protestant Reformation that was to come. At first, printing had a very limited impact, for it was used mainly to print the Bible and such. The Church controlled what was being printed, the language used was Latin, only a few scholars could read, and fewer still could write.

In Germany, in 1517, the pamphlet was first used by the leaders of the protestant movement to inflame popular opinion more efficiently against the Pope and the Church. Martin Luther was one of the earliest and most effective pamphleteers. The coarseness and violence of the pamphlets on both sides and the public disorder attributed to their distribution led to their prohibition. Many scholars, disgusted by the abuses and barbarism of the Church, rallied to Luther’s side, and started reading the contents of the pamphlets to the masses. The Protestant Reformation was not about to go away.

By 1520, Luther’s ideas had spread in France, and as early as 1521, at the initiative of the Sorbonne, the condemnations of the Protestant heretics began. Fines and prison sentences were imposed on lowly infidels, while heretical monks and priests were condemned to the stake.

Then came along Jean Calvin, a follower of Luther, who would do something Luther hadn’t considered doing. Luther had mainly been a reformer trying to change the Church from within, but Calvin, a French humanist, wanted much more, he wanted to lay down the rules for a new religion. He had great success among the French bourgeoisie, which comprised the greatest entrepreneurs of the day. Wanting to make up for lost time after the Hundred Years’ War, these businessmen wanted the backwards and cruel Roman Church out of the way. They of course used pamphlets to make their views known, and after the ‘Affaire des Placards’ in 1534, King François I, having lost patience with them, had several of their leaders hanged or sent to the stake. Following these events, Jean Calvin left France and settled in Geneva. Other French Calvinists started emigrating to Hanau, Amsterdam and London.

While Latin continued to be the language of the Roman Church, French became that of the Calvinists in France and French-speaking Switzerland. As of 1570, the printing houses in Geneva and Amsterdam became major centers for the dissemination of French, and consequently of Calvinism. The French nobility had massively adhered to Calvinism as early as 1555. The French Roman Christians, feeling threatened by the Calvinists, perpetrated the Wassy massacre in 1562, when several hundred innocent Huguenots, as Calvinists began to be called, were slaughtered like animals. Then, in 1572, with printing becoming widespread in France, the Huguenots were on the verge of tipping French political power in their favor, and King Charles IX, no doubt with papal approval, engineered the massacre of St. Bartholomew. On the night of August 24, 1572, more than 10,000 noble and notable Huguenots were killed, in Paris and in the provinces.

Because of the Placards Affair in 1534, the massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572, the siege of La Rochelle in 1627, and the dragonnades under Louis XIV in 1681, hundreds of thousands of Huguenots migrated to more clement lands, and it was the biggest brain drain in the history of any country. That’s why, when Henry VIII was forced to open the door to those with financial and business skills in 1534, many Huguenots had ended up in England where French was still widely spoken among aristocrats.

But in 1573, when William of Nassau-Orange converted to Calvinism, and later, in 1579, when the Treaty of Union was signed in Utrecht, making the Netherlands independent from Spain, Amsterdam became a Huguenot haven and many Calvinists were encouraged to join up with their brothers who were already established there. More importantly, when the Marranos started arriving after their expulsion from Portugal, they joined forces with the Huguenots in both London and Amsterdam, and their union changed the face of the earth

8-MARRANOS

 

When the prelates decided to revamp the image of the revered messiah Apollonius by changing his name and turning him into the son of God, the founding fathers had a problem. The Apollonius lookalike had to be an Essene from Palestine, and that meant he had to be a Jew. How does one build a Roman religion based on the teachings of a Jew? Well, they did it by likening the money-lending Jews of the Temple of Jerusalem to Jews in general. By conjuring up a story where the invented messiah was violently opposed to the Jewish usurers, and where these same usurers were responsible for his horrible death on the cross, it would be one way to turn him into a very acceptable Jew. Furthermore, the faithful would readily accept the idea that Apollonius, their long-departed Greek messiah, had, some 300 years prior, accomplished miracles and was indeed the Son of God as touted by the prelates of the Church of Rome. Whether the results were desired or not, Jews would henceforth bear the Christ-killer stigma. Christians, believing that Jews were responsible for the death of their Christ, wouldn’t be unduly upset to see them tortured, burned at the stake, or despoiled and banned from their homes.

Geographically, France is the hub of Europe, and it naturally became the cornerstone of Christianity when the Church of Rome took over the administration of Gaul and the Western Roman Empire after Constantin’s departure for Byzantium. Clovis, a Frank, was the Church’s first anointed king of divine right, and during his reign, he did his best to persecute and convert the ‘barbarians’ who were by then called Arians.

Once the converting tactics were well under way, the Church of Rome turned its attention to the Jews. In 629 CE, the Pope directed King Dagobert to expulse the Jews from Christian Gaul. Later, in 996 CE, when King Robert the Pious came to power in France, he burned a great number of Jews at the stake. When in 1009 the Muslims burned the alleged Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Christians blamed the Jews, and consequently, many French Jews were again tortured and massacred. Later, in 1096, Jews started being systematically despoiled, and burned at the stake or expulsed from the realm. It was the start of the first crusade, and Philip 1st and his noblemen had taken advantage of the situation in order to replenish their coffers. By despoiling the Jews and expulsing them, they were killing two birds with one stone. Philip was not only doing his Christian duty but he had found a way to finance the crusade ordered by Pope Urban II. Over the next centuries, when King Philippe Augustus and others needed money they would let the Jews back in for a fee, and the whole process would start over again. However, in 1394, Charles VI officially declared the definite expulsion of Jews from France, and as many as 100 000 French Jews made their way to Spain.

They chose Spain not only because it was close to France, but it was also because the Muslims were by then in full control of Spain and were more tolerant towards other religious groups. But when the Christians reconquered the Iberian Peninsula in 1478, the Pope ordered an Inquisition as soon as it became feasible. The Jews were again forced to convert to Christianity, and if they refused, they were burned at the stake. Understandably, many Sephardim chose to convert while continuing to practise their religion in secret, and they became known as Marranos. In 1492, they were expelled from Spain and many of them fled to Portugal and Morocco.

In 1536, there was another Inquisition directed at Jews in Portugal. Once more, facing torture and death, many Jews fled. This time, because a world shattering event had just taken place in England, many of the great banking and shipbuilding Jewish families chose to go there. It had to do with Henry VIII after the Pope had refused to annul his marriage. The Pope, who was in the habit of arranging and annulling royal marriages for political and religious reasons, had refused to grant Henry VIII his divorce, and here’s why. King Henry had married a Spaniard, Catherine of Aragon, and since the Church of Rome considered the Kingdom of Spain much more important than the Kingdom of England, it was therefore unwilling to displease the King of Spain. When the Pope refused to grant Henry VIII his request, the latter was so determined to have a son that his present wife could not give him that he declared himself head of the Church in England, separated from Rome, and divorced Catherine.

In the process, England was deprived of the financial services of Rome. At first, Henry sold off all the unprofitable Church property and even had his friends rummage through the unsold properties for possible treasures and valuable materials, but it was a futile move. Most of the revenue derived from these operations ended up in the hands of those doing the demolishing and the selling, and very little revenue reached the state coffers. Not surprisingly, many old aristocratic families are to this day indebted and loyal to the King of England.

With no other option, Henry decided to admit the Jews back into England. The Jews had been expelled from England since 1290, but these were special Jews. The Marranos or Conversos, as they were called, professed to be Christians when in fact they still practised their religion in secret. But Henry overlooked their deceitfulness, for he was in dire financial straits and needed their financial skills. In accepting Jews for their financial skills and Huguenots for their great entrepreneurship, Henry caused a breach in the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire as a financial and political power.