The yellow badge, also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments to mark them as Jews in public at certain times in certain countries. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with antisemitism. In both Christian and Islamic countries, persons not of the dominant religion were intermittently compelled by sumptuary laws to wear badges, hats, bells or other items of clothing that distinguished them from members of the dominant religious group.

While antisemitism was less pronounced in the Muslim countries than in Christian ones, Jews were at times treated with contempt, depending on the era and location. This was expressed through sumptuary laws that established what colors, clothing or hats they were permitted or not permitted to wear. The use of distinctive clothing or marks for Jewish and other religious communities has been traced by historians to ancient times. The yellow badge was first introduced by a caliph in Baghdad in the 9th century, and spread to the West in medieval times. Even in public baths, non-Muslims wore medallions suspended from cords around their necks so no one would mistake them for Muslims. Apart from Jews, Hindus living under Islamic rule in India were often forced to wear yellow badges as well. During the reign of Akbar the Great, his general Husain Khan ‘Tukriya’ forcibly made Hindus wear discriminatory yellow badges on their shoulders or sleeves.

On 19 June 1269, Louis IX of France imposed a fine of ten livres of silver on Jews found in public without a badge. The enforcement of wearing the badge (rota) was repeated by local councils, with varying degrees of fines. The “rota” looked like a ring of white or yellow. The shape and color of the patch also varied, although the color was usually white or yellow. In German-speaking Europe, a requirement for a badge was less common than the Judenhut or Pileum cornutum (a cone-shaped head dress, common in medieval illustrations of Jews). In 1267, in a special session, the Vienna city council required Jews to wear a Judenhut; the badge does not seem to have been worn in Austria. There is a reference to a dispensation from the badge in Erfurt on 16 October 1294, the earliest reference to the badge in Germany.

After the German invasion of Poland in 1939 there were initially different local decrees requiring Jews to wear a distinctive sign, during the General Government. The sign was a white armband with a blue Star of David on it, in the Warthegau a yellow badge in the form of a Star of David on the left side of the breast and on the back. The requirement to wear the Star of David with the word Jude (German for Jew) inscribed in faux Hebrew letters was then extended to all Jews over the age of six in the Reich and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and was gradually introduced in other German-occupied areas, where local words were used. One observer reported that the star increased German non-Nazi sympathy for Jews as the impoverished citizens who wore them were, contrary to Nazi propaganda, obviously not the cause of German failure in the east. In Czechoslovakia, the government had to ban hat tipping toward Jews and other courtesies that became popular as protests against the German occupation.

history meme - [2/8 objects] - the yellow badge

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