The yellow badge
), also referred to as a Jewish badge
, was a cloth patch that Jews were
ordered to sew on their outer garments in order to mark them as
Jews in public. It was 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
badges, hats, bells or other items of clothing that distinguished
them from members of the dominant religious group. The yellow badge
was revived by the German Nazis
In Muslim countries, Jews, like all non-Muslims
, were treated as second class subjects.
This was expressed through sumptuary
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. In the early Islamic period,
non-Muslims were required to wear distinctive marks in public, such
as metal seals fixed around their necks. Tattooing and branding of
slaves and captives were widespread in the ancient world. However,
Islam, like Judaism, forbids permanent skin markings.
Likewise, they were not allowed to wear colors associated with
Islam, particularly green.The practice of physically branding Jews
and Christians appears to have been begun in early medieval Baghdad
and was considered highly degrading. According to Bernard Lewis
, Christians and Jews were forced
to wear special emblems on their clothes. The yellow badge was
first introduced by a caliph in Baghdad in the ninth 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. Belts, headgear, shoes,
armbands and/or cloth patches were also used. Under Shi'a rules,
they were not even allowed to use the same baths In 1005 the Jews
of Egypt were ordered to wear bells on their garments.
Apart from Jews, Hindus
living under Islamic rule in
were often forced to wear yellow badges as well.During
the reign of Akbar the Great
general Husain Khan 'Tukriya' forcibly made Hindus
wear discriminatory yellow badges on their
shoulders or sleeves.
In Christian countries, dress codes were also imposed on Jewish and
other non-Christian residents. In Europe, the Fourth Council of the Lateran
of 1215 ruled that Jews and Muslims must be distinguishable by
their dress (Latin "habitus")", and the yellow badge in Europe
dates from this, unlike the Jewish hat
(or "Judenhut"), a cone-shaped hat, which is seen in many
illustrations from before this date, and remained the key
distinguishing mark of Jewish dress in the Middle Ages. From the
sixteenth century, the use of the Judenhut declined, but the badge
tended to outlast it, surviving into the eighteenth century in
places, even longer in Imperial Russia.
The identifying mark varied from one country to another, and from
period to period. Apart from the hat, there were also attempts
to enforce the wearing of full-length robes, which in late 14th
century Rome were
supposed to be red.
The most common form of badge was the
"rota" or "wheel", which 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. Married women were often required to
wear two bands of blue on their veil or head-scarf.
Edward I of England
's Statute of Jewry
prescribed "the form of
two Tables joined
, of yellow felt
of the length of six inches and of the breadth of three inches".
This shape — two separate strips or two joined round-topped
rectangles — was particular to England.
Portugal a red
star of David was used.
Louis IX of France
Jews to wear oval rouelle
, a version of the "rota".
all sumptuary laws, enforcement of the rules was very variable; in
Marseilles the magistrates ignored accusations of breaches,
and in some places individuals or communities could buy
After the German invasion of
in 1939 there were initially different local decrees
forcing 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
for Jew) inscribed was then
extended to all Jews over the age of six in the Reich
and the Protectorate of Bohemia and
(by a decree issued on September
signed by Reinhard Heydrich
) and was gradually
introduced in other German-occupied areas, where local words were
used (e.g. Juif
Jews being beaten, from an English
The yellow badge is in the shape of the Tablets of the
- 717: Possible date of the Pact of
Umar which stipulates that Christians (and by implication also
Jews) living in Muslim lands are required to wear distinctive
clothing. Although there are questions about the status of this
document as a historic source, the use of distinguishing marks is
consistent with documentary and archaeological evidence from
seventh century and eighth century Iraq and Syria.
- 850: A decree of the Abbassid Caliph
Al-Mutawakkil, reported by the tenth
century historian Muhammad
ibn Jarir al-Tabari, requires Christian and Jewish
subjects to wear honey-coloured hoods and belts of a particular
type. Distinguishing marks are also prescribed for their
- 1005: Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim, orders Jewish and Christian
residents to wear bells on their garments and a "golden calf" (made of wood) around the neck when
bathing with Muslims.
- 1058: Start of less tolerant policy towards Christians and Jews
by the Seljuk authorities in the Abbasid empire. Existing laws
imposing distinctive dress are enforced. Non-Muslims in
Baghdad are forced to wear signs on their
- 1085: Non-Muslims are required to wear distinctive signs on
- 1091: Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadi
decrees that the "non-believers" had to wear yellow headgear and
girdles of various colors, and a sign of lead around their necks to
show they had to pay the poll-tax. Women had
to wear shoes of different colors, such as one red and the other
A letter from Baghdad describes
decrees regulating Jewish clothes: "two yellow badges, one on
the headgear and one on the neck. Furthermore, each
Jew must hang round his neck a piece of lead
with the word dhimmi on it. He also
has to wear a belt round his waist. The women have to wear
one red and one black shoe and have a small bell on their necks or
Jews (identifiable by
) being burned at stake.
From medieval manuscript.
- 1215: Fourth Lateran
Council headed by Pope Innocent
III declares: "Jews and Saracens of
both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be
marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the
character of their dress."
- 1219: Pope Honorius III issues
a dispensation to the Jews of Castile. Spanish Jews normally wore
turbans in any case, which presumably met the
requirement to be distinctive.
- 1222: Archbishop of
Canterbury Stephen Langton
orders English Jews to wear white band, two fingers broad and four
- 1227: Synod of Narbonne rules:
"That Jews may be distinguished from others, we decree and
emphatically command that in the center of the breast (of their
garments) they shall wear an oval badge, the measure of one finger
in width and one half a palm in height."
James I orders Jews of Aragon to wear the
- 1265: The Siete Partidas, a legal
code enacted in Castile by
Alfonso X but not implemented until many
years later, includes a requirement for Jews to wear distinguishing
In a special session, the Vienna city council
forces Jews to wear Pileum
cornutum (a cone-shaped head dress, common in medieval
illustrations of Jews); the badge does not seem to have been worn
Jewish ring from a Hebrew
Passover manuscript, German 15th century
- 1269 June 19: France.
(Saint) Louis IX of France orders
all Jews found in public without a badge ( or roue, ) to
be fined ten livres of silver. The enforcement of wearing the badge is
repeated by local councils, with varying degrees of fines, at
Arles 1234 and 1260, Béziers 1246,
Albi 1254, Nîmes 1284 and
1365, Avignon 1326 and
1337, Rodez 1336, and
- 1274: The Statute of Jewry in
England, enacted by King Edward
I, enforces the regulations. "Each Jew, after he is seven
years old, shall wear a distinguishing mark on his outer garment,
that is to say, in the form of two Tables joined, of yellow felt of
the length of six inches and of the breadth of three
- 1294 October 16: Erfurt. The
earliest mention of the badge in Germany.
- 1315–1326: Emir Ismael Abu-I-Walid forces the Jews of
Granada to wear the yellow badge.
- 1321: Henry II of Castile
forces the Jews to wear the yellow badge.
- 1415 May 11: Bull of
the Avignon Pope Benedict
XIII orders the Jews to wear a yellow and red badge, the men on
their breast, the women on the cloth covering their forehead.
reintroduces the badge at Augsburg.
The Council of Ten of Venice allows the
newly-arrived famous physician and professor Jacob Mantino ben Samuel to wear
the regular black doctors' cap instead of Jewish yellow hat for
several months (subsequently made permanent), upon the
recommendation of the French and English ambassadors, the papal
legate, and other dignitaries numbered among his
- 1555: Pope Paul IV decrees, in his
Cum nimis absurdum, that
the Jews should wear yellow hats.
King Sigismund II passes a law that
required Lithuanian Jews to wear yellow hats and head coverings.
The law was abolished twenty years later.
- 1710: Frederick
William I of Prussia abolished the mandatory Jewish yellow
patch in return for a payment of 8,000 thaler
(about $75,000 worth of silver at 2007 prices) each.
- 1939–1945: The Nazi regimes in the
occupied countries of Europe force Jews to wear an identifying mark
under the threat of death. There are no consistent requirements as
to its color and shape: it varies from a white armband to a yellow
Star of David badge.
A popular legend portrays king Christian X of Denmark wearing the
yellow badge on his daily morning horseback ride through the
streets of Copenhagen, followed by non-Jewish Danes responding to their
king's example, thus preventing the Germans from identifying Jewish
citizens. Queen Margrethe
II of Denmark has explained that the story was not true. No
order requiring Jews to wear identifying marks was ever introduced
During the reign of the Islamist Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the Hindu minority in the
country were forced to wear yellow badges in public to identify
themselves as such. This was part of the Taliban's plan to
segregate "un-Islamic" and "idolatrous" communities from Islamic
decree was condemned by the Governments of the United States and India as a gross
violation of religious freedom. In the United States, the
chairman of the Anti-Defamation
League Abraham Foxman compared
the decree to the earlier practices of Nazi
Germany. Widespread protests against the Taliban
regime broke out in Bhopal, India. The
Government of India condemned
this decree as a violation of religious freedom. In the United States, congressmen and several lawmakers wore yellow
badges on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a
demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in
Bernard. The Jews of Islam, Princeton University Press, 1984,
p. 62. "But their status was one of legal and social inferiority
or, as we would say nowadays, of second-class citizenship".
- The Yellow Star by Jennifer Rosenberg
- Hourani, Albert, A History of the Arab Peoples,
London: Faber and Faber, 1991, ISBN 0-571-16663-6, p.117
- Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry Into
Conflict and Prejudice, 1999, W. W. Norton & Company
press, ISBN 0-393-31839-7, p.131
Bernard. The Jews of Islam, Princeton University
Press, Jun 1, 1987, pp. 25-26.
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Yellow badge
- Schreckenburg, Heinz, The Jews in Christian Art, p.
15, 1996, Continuum, New York, ISBN 0826409369, though the Jewish
Encyclopedia cites a reference from 1208 in France. See the Jewish
Encyclopedia for the Judenhut being more widespread than the
- Schreckenburg: 308–329.
- Schreckenburg:15, although Piponnier and Mane, p. 137 say red
was commonest for badges of all shapes, followed by yellow or
green, or red and white together.
- Piponnier and Mane, p. 137.
- Schreckenburg: 305.
- Françoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane; Dress in the Middle
Ages; p. 137, Yale UP, 1997; ISBN 0300069065.
- Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (at the
Museum of Tolerance).
- Polizeiverordnung über die Kennzeichnung der
Juden (came into force September 19, 1941).
- Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or
Persecution of Jews in Hamburg
- al-Mutawakkil's decree of 850 (JVL)
- Fatimids and Seljuks: 909 CE - 1100s CE. How Spain
Became the Intellectual Center of the Jewish World
- Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), p.204
- Fourth Lateran Council, Canon 68
- Norman Rose in Medieval Jewish Civilization: An
Encyclopedia (Routledge)- "Jewish Clothing".
- Fourth Lateran Council, Canon68
- Medieval Sourcebook, Las Siete Partidas: Laws on Jews accessed 18-09-2006
- [http://(Jewish Encyclopedia yellow badge op.
- Jacob Mantino ben Samuel, (Jewish
- Amos Elon:
The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany,
1743-1933 (Metropolitan Books, 2002) p.15. ISBN 0805059644.
See talk page for conversion.
- Anne Wolden-Ræthinge (1990) Queen in Denmark,
Copenhagen: Gyldendal, ISBN 8701086235
- Did King Christian X of Denmark wear a yellow star
in support of the Danish Jews? (USHMM Research Library). Accessed 2006-08-17.
- Gunnar S. Paulsson, "The Bridge over the Øresund", Journal of
Contemporary History, June 1995.
- Taliban to mark Afghan Hindus,CNN
- Taliban: Hindus Must Wear Identity
- India deplores Taleban decree against
- US Lawmakers Condemn Taliban Treatment Of
- US lawmakers say: We are
Yellow badges in the Middle Ages
Yellow badges in the Nazi period 1939-1945
Denmark: The king against the yellow badge