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Broadsides that explicitly mention Jewish peddlers are rare. These two broadsides were prompted by the infamous Russian plague epidemic of 1770–1772, which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Moscow residents. “Jews were suspected of spreading plague because of their involvement in the cloth and rag trade”, as Alexander remarks in his Bubonic Plague in Early Modern Russia (p. 114).

 

In the first broadside the Dutch States General prohibits vagrants and beggars, particularly Jewish peddlers (ragpickers: "pakdraagende Jooden"), coming from Podolia and Volhynia (in modern-day Ukraine) to cross the Dutch border. In the event that Jewish peddlers do approach the Dutch borders, they shall be promptly turned away, with their possessions confiscated and subsequently burnt. Upon any subsequent attempts to cross the border, these peddlers will face flocking, branding, and will be perpetually banned.

 

Additionally, the broadside includes detailed instructions for ferry captains and inn owners, prohibiting them from providing services to vagrants, beggars, and Jewish peddlers.

 

The second broadside, an amplification of the first, illustrates the dilemma faced by governments when attempting to manage an epidemic: the States General made a clear effort to control the outbreak without negatively impacting the economy. It restates the rules for vagrants, beggars, and Jewish peddlers, explicitly mentioning the commerce involving rags, down feathers, and quills, and introduces further limitations on maritime transport as well.

Two broadsides (1770-1771) prohibiting Jewish peddlers to cross the Dutch border

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  • Placaat. De Staaten Generaal der vereenigde Nederlanden; allen den geenen die deesen sullen sien en hooren leesen, salut: Doen te weeten; nademaal wy tot ons leetweesen geinformeert zyn, en het ook door de publicque tydingen alomme bekent is, dat een pestentiaale en besmettelyke siekte seedert eenigen tyd in Podolien en Vohlonien en andere plaatsen daar omtrent ontsteeken is…

    The Hague, Isaac Scheltus, 28 August, 1770.

    With an amplification:

    Placaat. De Staaten Generaal der vereenigde Nederland: Allen den geenen die deesen sullen sien of hooren leesen, salut; Doen te weeten; nademaal wy onderrigt zyn dat de besmettelyke siekte welke in Podolien en Volhynien ontstooken was, seer merkelyk is afgenoomen…

    The Hague, Isaac Scheltus, 3 May, 1771.

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