768 - 814 CHARLEMAGNE (Carolingian Empire)
A Carolingian king who created the first broad-based European state. A devout Christian, he protected Jewish commerce in his kingdom. In general, Jews were permitted to freely practice their religion and most trade.. As the Muslims controlled much of the Mediterranean, the Jews began to take on the role of commercial mediators. Charlemagne saw the Jews as an economic asset and prevented excessive demands being made on them by the Church. Yet he also passed a law erasing debts that existed between Jews and Catholics and threatened to cut off the right hand of any Jew who loaned money and collected debt from the Church or Catholics. The Emperor and his successor considered Jewish property as their own to be bartered but not sold outright.