Marcus Prague (1771 - c.1845)

‹ Back to Prague surname

View Marcus Prague's complete profile:

  • See if you are related to Marcus Prague
  • Request to view Marcus Prague's family tree

Share

Related Projects

Nicknames: "Mendel Prag", "Marcus Abraham", "Abraham Marcus"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Kingdom of Bohemia
Death: Died in Paris, Île-de-France, France
Occupation: peddler, sous rabbi
Managed by: Eloise Matt
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Marcus Prague

     Marcus PRAGUE, also known as Mendel PRAG, and Marcus ABRAHAM, was born 1771 in Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia when the city was under the rule of the Habsburg Empire. Prague was the first Bohemian city that Jews settled in and are recorded to have done so since circa 970. Jewish history in the city of Prague over many centuries brought about undulating waves of both peace and prosperity with times of prejudice and expulsion from the city. In 1789 many Jewish families of Prague were restricted when only the eldest son of each Jewish family was permitted to marry. This restriction placed on Bohemian Jews may explain why Marcus left his hometown – if he were not the eldest son of the family he may have never been permitted to marry.

Marcus is said to have arrived in Paris during the escalation of the French Revolution (1789-1799). The revolution was a turbulent time for Jews and many maintained secret synagogues. Marcus, who was a peddler at the time, accounts that he and other Jews of Paris would pray in the secrecy of a cellar during the Reign of Terror (1793-1794). It is during these tumultuous times that Marcus married Brunette CERF and together they welcomed their first child in 1794.

      After 1799 France enjoyed relative stability and in 1801 Marcus was elected to sous-rabbi at the synagogue consistoriale of Paris. France’s new emperor Napoleon wished to herald in a new age for French Jews and arranged the Grand Sanhedrin in April 1806. Napoleon granted French Jews citizenship of France; a right never given to Jews in all of French history. The Grand Sanhedrin was assembled to discuss and form the duties and responsibilities of France’s newest citizens. 
       In 1807 the Grand Sanhedrin commenced a series of meetings held from 9 February to 9 March, in the City Hall of Paris to discuss and answer 12 questions. Answering these questions shaped how Jewish communities brought about their own cultural, social and religious reformation in the new French republic. Seven days after the initial meeting, on the 16 February, the Grand Sanhedrin required a further two members to assume the place of those not present. Marcus PRAGUE and Moïse MOSBACH were summoned to serve in the Grand Sanhedrin and sat at the remaining meetings.
      After the Grand Sanhedrin completed their task it was disbanded and Marcus continued life as a sous-rabbi. The position for the Paris Constitutional Grand Rabbi was vacated in 1829, and Marcus wrote a letter to the Collège des notables israélites de la circonscription de Paris on 17 November. In the letter he argued that his service in the Napoleonic Sanhedrin entitled him to be considered for the position, but did so in vain. As a sous-rabbi Marcus did not receive a regular salary, but instead relied upon financial aid from the government for his role. In 1837 Marcus wrote to the Paris consistory requesting that he be provided a regular salary, but his request was denied. However, it is believed that Marcus did later ascend to the grand rabbin de Paris.

Marcus was remembered as a passionate follower of Jewish law. A story recorded in Les archives israélites retells how Marcus censured the wealthy banker James de ROTHSCHILD on the day of Yom Kippour, which is an observed day of atonement and also one of holiest days of the year for Jewish people:

One day during the Yom Kippour James de Rothschild was requested to bring out the Sepher from the Ark, and asked Marcus Prague to take care of his prayer-book. His prayer-book was splendidly bound and he noticed that Prague examined it with interest. “My prayer-book seems to please you,” Mr Rothschild said. “How much will you give me for it?” “How, Monsieur Baron,” replied Prague, “in such a place and upon such a day would you transact business?”

Articles written by and about Marcus PRAGUE still exist today in the journals of Les archives israélites. Marcus’ grandson, Hippolyte PRAGUE, was editor of the journal in the early 20th century, and also recorded Marcus’ memoirs from his experiences during the Reign of Terror.

Marcus died circa 1845 aged in his 70s. His son, and his respected German friend, Rabbi Mendel KARGAU, gave his eulogy. Marcus was buried in a cemetery of Paris.

view all

Marcus Prague's Timeline

1771
1771
Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Kingdom of Bohemia
1794
1794
Age 23
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1796
1796
Age 25
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1801
1801
Age 30
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1803
1803
Age 32
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1806
November 8, 1806
Age 35
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1845
1845
Age 74
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1845
Age 74
????
????