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JAKOB FRANK (1726-1791)

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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 16 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAKOB FRANK (1726-1791), a Jewish theologian, who founded in Poland, in the middle of the 18th century, a sect which emanated from Judaism but ended by merging with Christianity. The sect was the outcome of the Messianic mysticism of Sabbetai Zebi. It was an antinomian movement in which the authority of the Jewish law was held to be superseded by personal freedom. The Jewish authorities, alarmed at the moral laxity which resulted from the emotional rites of the Frankists, did their utmost to suppress the sect. But the latter, posing as an anti-Talmudic protest in behalf of a spiritual religion, won a certain amount of public sympathy. There was, however, no deep sincerity in the tenets of the Frankists, for though in 1759 they were baptized en masse, amid much pomp, the Church soon became convinced that Frank was not a genuine convert. He was imprisoned on a charge of heresy, but on his release in 1763 the empress Maria Theresa patronized him, regarding him as a propagandist of Christianity among the Jews. He thenceforth lived in state as baron of Offenbach, and on his death (1791) his daughter Eva succeeded him as head of the sect. The Frankists gradually merged in the general Christian body, the movement leaving no permanent trace in the synagogue. (I. A.) FRANK-ALMOIGN (libera eleemosyna, free alms), in the English law of real property, a species of spiritual tenure, whereby a religious corporation, aggregate or sole, holds lands of the donor to them and their successors for ever. It was a tenure dating from Saxon times, held not on the ordinary feudal conditions, but discharged of all services except the trinoda necessitas. But " they which hold in frank-almoign are bound of right before God to make orisons, prayers, masses and other divine services for the souls of their grantor or feoffor, and for the souls of their heirs which are dead, and for the prosperity and good life and good health of their heirs which are alive. And therefore they shall do no fealty to their lord, because that this divine service is better for them before God than any doing of fealty " (Litt. s. 135). It was the tenure by which the greater number of the monasteries and religious houses held their lands; it was expressly exempted from the statute 12 Car.II. C.24 (166o), by which the other ancient tenures were abolished, and it is the tenure by which the parochial clergy and many ecclesiastical and eleemosynary foundations hold their lands at the present day. As a form of donation, however, it came to an end by the passing of the statute Quia Emptores, for by that statute no new tenure of frank-almoign could be created, except by the crown. See Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, where the history of frank-almoign is given at length.
End of Article: JAKOB FRANK (1726-1791)

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