Abraham in Wonderland: On Judeisapta and Imaginary Jewish Sovereignty in the Fourteenth-Century Austrian Chronicle (Österreichische Chronik von den 95 Herrschaften)
- Jewish Quarterly Review
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 110, Number 3, Summer 2020
- pp. 412-433
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The late fourteenth-century Austrian Chronicle (Österreichische Chronik von den 95 Herrschaften), a prose work composed anonymously in Habsburg Vienna, contains a fabulistic history of Austria and its rulers—including a description of heraldic devices. According to the Chronicle, the first geographical designation for Austria was Judeisapta (lit: appropriate for Jews), a land named by a Jew but devoid of Jews. The initial settler, Abraham, was a pagan who, some eight centuries after the deluge, left Terra Ammiracionis (Wonderland) for Judeisapta. Later, Jewish rulers of Austria, under darkly articulated circumstances, converted from idol worship and then reverted to paganism in pre-Christian times. In conformity with the Augustinian scheme of the Ages of the World, Jewish sovereignty in the Chronicle is portrayed as evanescent and transitory, worthy of attention only as a preparatory stage for the Christian ascendancy. An important theme is the conversion of Austrian Jews, whose fictitious history betrays a fragile conception of religious affiliation.