Everyone probably knows about the position of “court jester”, history’s stand-up comedians cheering up the King and highborn lads and ladies. But what to make of the Court Jew? That was a literal position, back in medieval times — for every court jester cracking jokes, there was a court jew running finances.
Suppose the King wanted to go to war. But treasury was running a little short on cash. He’d have to call for his ‘court Jew’ and look at his financial options. Need he take a loan? There’s all sorts of advice he might use, support he might require. Illustrating this answer is a little statue of a man named Lämmle Seeligmann, who served as “court Jew” to one of the Habsburg emperors.
I knew Jews were often money lenders and bankers back in medieval times. What I didn’t know is that courts had their own resident Jewish guy. Some became such good buddies with kings and emperors that they were made into nobles, themselves.