I divide the subject of Jewish-Christian relations into two main parts: (1) Italy before the 15th century; and (2) tarot-specific locations in the 15th century. Part 1 I divide into four sections: (a) general overview; (b) Jewish occupations except with silk; (c) silk; (d) theological interchanges; and (d) interchanges pertaining to magic and divination. In this first post I will discuss 1 a, b, and c only.
What I found I think is of some interest to tarot researchers. I was especially surprised about the links connecting the city of Lucca, silk production, and Kabbalah before the 15th century, and then to Florence in the 15th century. These are all of interest in relation to the tarot: Lucca as a possible city of tarot origin, suggested by Huck recently (starting at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1041&p=15616&hilit=Lucca#p15616); and silk because it is through the records of Florentine silk dealers in cards that we know much of what we do about the playing card industry of mid-15th century Florence. I will discuss Lucca and silk in the present post, move on to to Medieval Kabbalah later, and to Renaissance Florence still later.
(a) Jews in Italy before the 15th century: general overview
During the time of the pagan Roman Empire, Jews were present in large numbers in Italy, at least 30,000 in Rome alone. Wikipedia says (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of ... s_in_Italy:
When Christianity became the religion first of the emperor and then of the Empire (380), severe persecution began. This ended when the Ostrogoths established their rule:In addition to Rome, there were a significant number of Jewish communities in southern Italy during this period. For example, the regions of Sicily, Calabria, and Apulia had well established Jewish populations.
Once Italy was secure against Byzantium, Jews were persecuted again, Wikipedia says. But then came the Lombards:At the time of the foundation of the Ostrogothic rule under Theodoric (493 – 526), there were flourishing communities of Jews in Rome, Milan, Genoa, Palermo, Messina, Agrigentum, and in Sardinia. The Popes of the period were not seriously opposed to the Jews; and this accounts for the ardor with which the latter took up arms for the Ostrogoths as against the forces of Justinian—particularly at Naples, where the remarkable defense of the city was maintained almost entirely by Jews.
This ushered in a generally favorable period, up to the 13th century, per Wikipedia:it was not long until the greater part of Italy came into the possession of the Lombards (568-774), under whom they lived in peace. Indeed, the Lombards passed no exceptional laws relative to the Jews. Even after the Lombards embraced Catholicism the condition of the Jews was always favorable, because the popes of that time not only did not persecute them, but guaranteed them more or less protection.
The Jewish Encyclopedia (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8343-italy, from which Wikipedia seems to be getting much information, mentions an expulsion of the Jews from Bologna in 1172; "but they were soon allowed to return."A nephew of Rabbi Nathan ben Jehliel acted as administrator of the property of Pope Alexander III, who showed his amicable feelings toward the Jews at the Lateran Council of 1179, where he defeated the designs of hostile prelates who advocated anti-Jewish laws. Under Norman rule the Jews of southern Italy and of Sicily enjoyed even greater freedom; they were considered the equals of the Christians, and were permitted to follow any career; they even had jurisdiction over their own affairs. Indeed, in no country were the canonical laws against the Jews so frequently disregarded as in Italy.
However Innocent III (1198-1216) threatened with excommunication those who maintained Jews in positions of authority and insisted that all Jews be dismissed from public positions. He also required Jews to wear a special yellow cloth on their clothing. In 1235 Pope Gregory IX published the first bull accusing Jews of ritual murder, followed by many other popes to come. Wikipedia continues, about the 15th century:
Wikipedia's information again seems to come mostly from the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906, with almost identical wording and list of cities. However it would seem to be accurate.The Jews suffered much from the relentless persecutions of the Avignon-based antipope Benedict XIII. They hailed his successor, Martin V, with delight. The synod convoked by the Jews at Bologna, and continued at Forlì, sent a deputation with costly gifts to the new pope, praying him to abolish the oppressive laws promulgated by Benedict and to grant the Jews those privileges which had been accorded them under previous popes. The deputation succeeded in its mission, but the period of grace was short; for Martin's successor, Eugenius IV, at first favorably disposed toward the Jews, ultimately reenacted all the restrictive laws issued by Benedict. In Italy, however, his bull was generally disregarded. The great centers, such as Venice, Florence, Genoa, and Pisa, realized that their commercial interests were of more importance than the affairs of the spiritual leaders of the Church; and accordingly the Jews, many of whom were bankers and leading merchants, found their condition better than ever before.
(b) Jewish Occupations in the Middle Ages, except silk
It is difficult to get full information about Jewish means of livelihood durign the Middle Ages. In the 15th century, of course, many leading bankers were Jewish, having been accorded permission by papal authorities and local governments to lend money at interest. So presumably they had experience in this trade earlier, no doubt at least during the Crusades, for the transmission of funds from Western Europe to points east. Also, we know, Jews distinguished themselves in medicine. There were also Jewish poets and philosophers in medieval Italy. For the 10th-14th centuries, the Jewish Encyclopedia mentions "Judah Kohen of Toledo, later of Tuscany" brought first to Sicily by Frederick II; and in Rome "Hillel of Verona", physician; Immanuel ben Solomon, said to be a friend of Dante's; and others. The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia (books.google.com/books?id=dwICJoLCfhQC&pg=PT147&lpg=PT147&dq=Jewish+Encyclopedia+Italy&source=bl&ots=H2tqQMwDWG&sig=pSetYMkf4_3R7Mo_ZwgQw6-0Ajs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rfJ0VLS9F8-1oQTuhILgDA&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=Jewish Encyclopedia Italy&f=false) says of Italian Jews that "Between 1230 and 1550, poets, scholars, and philosophers writing in Hebrew, Italian, and Latin created a 'golden age' of Jewish learning paralleled only in Muslim Spain." There was even an "Antipope" of Jewish descent, Anacletus II (d. 1138), whose great-great grandfather had b een a converted Jew (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipope_Anacletus_II).
But what about less distinguished Jews? Mark Wischnitzer, in A History of Jewish Crafts and Guilds, 1965, p. 80, says (p. 50):
And in general (pp. 51-52):The Jewish community of ancient Rome, liberally estimated as some 40,000, included tent makers, tailors, and butchers. Refernce is made in the talmud to a Jeish tailor in Rome who worked for a non-Jewish master.
Some information is contained in Antipope Benedict XIII's harsh prescriptions of 1415 (again Wikipedia; I omit the footnote):Weaving, dyeing and glassmaking were the chief trades plied by Jews in Syria, Asia Minor, and the western countries of the Diaspora.
It would appear that Jews had continued to be artisans, as they had been in Italy since pagan times, serving not only Jewish needs but that of the general population. Wischnitzer says (p. 80):Synagogues were closed, Jewish goldsmiths were forbidden to produce religious objects such as chalices and crucifixes, and Jewish book binders were prohibited from binding books in which the names of Jesus or Mary occurred.
If there are scribes, including illuminators, there would likely be bookbinders. Then after the invention of printing, 15th century, Jews in Italy went into that trade. Some illuminators apparently continued as card painters. Wischnitzer writes, in a discussion of Germany (p. 90):A list of about 400 scribes has been compiled for Italy alone in the period up to 1500.
Jews apparently were also engaged in painting playing cards. The town book of the city of Landau, in the Palatinate, for 1520 deals with the complaint of the card-painter Meyer Hayyim whose trade suffered because of the importation of playing cards from other cities. The Council decided to stop the sale of imported cards.
Gold- and silver- smiths are mentioned for Trevoux, which is now a suburb of Lyons. Wischnitzer relates (p. 80):
In addition, he says:After their expulsion from the latter city [Lyons], in the later fourteenth century, Jews settled in Trevoux, carrying with them a craft which they continued to practice to the first half of the nineteenth century.
Given this expertise in sword-making, I think it is legitimate to infer that other Jewish metalworkers were in Italy earlier as well. Since gold and silver were etched by the smiths, this is a trade that transfers well to woodcuts and engraving, just as illuminating transfers into card-painting.Sword making was one of the skills plied by Jewish workers. The armorer, Salmone da Sesso, named after his conversion to Christianity, Ercole de' Fideli (c. 1465-1519), worked for the court of Ferrara. Most famous was the so-called "Queen of Swords" which he made for Cesare Borgia....A silversmith, Isaac of Bologna, was employed by the royal court in Naples in 1474. Mantua had a street of Jewish goldsmiths. Members of the jeweler's family of Formiggini worked for two centuries for the dukes of the house of d'Este.
Some information comes in a discussion of a bull by Eugenius IV, which is 15th century but tells us about conditions earlier (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12816-rome):
The most frequently mentioned trade for Jews, of course, is moneylending. Since moneylending by Jews required official permission, such licenses were part of the public record. That trade includes other categories besides rich bankers. Books frequently speaks of pawn shops; these would seem to have been more widespread than banks, especially rich ones, but I don't know how the distinction was drawn, if it was.In the bull of 1442, which comprises forty-two articles, he forbids the Jews to study civil law or to engage in handicrafts; he also orders the abolition of the Jewish courts. This bull was enforced with such rigor that several Jews left the Roman territory and settled in Mantua, by permission of Francisco Gonzaga. However, the leaders of several Roman congregations met in Tivoli and in Ravenna, and by the speedy collection of enormous sums of money they succeeded in having this bull withdrawn, though the clause which taxed the Roman community to the amount of 1,000 scudi remained in force.
Annie Sacerdoti, in Guide to Jewish Italy, 2003, gives some information on Jewish occupations, town by town. She does not say, but probably the information comes from commune archives. I first quote her material on Piedmont (pp. 20, 22, 36):
Asti: There was a permanent group of Jews there from the beginning of the 14th century, due to expulsions from France, etc. They were required to practice money-lending in order to stay in the town.
Biella: According to documents of 1377, at a place called Biella Piazzo, a certain Giocomino Giudeo practiced the profession of innkeeper. ..the profession of innkeeper was not commonly practiced by Jews."
Moncalvo: In 1394 many of the Jews expelled from France crossed the Alps and settled in Piedmont, where many small Jewish centers sprang p, even in rural areas. Moncalvo is one such rural locality....At Moncalvo the Jews ran one of the eighteen loan banks scattered throughout the Monferrato area in the 16th century. But they also engaged in crafts and were traveling merchants.
By "France", of course, the most immediately close to Piedmont were Provence and Languedoc. We shall explore in the next section the possibility of silkworms in both places during the Middle Ages.
Then there are the maritime regions, starting with Ancona (p. 154).
A bridge between Europe and the East, the port of Ancona was always a hub of economic activities for the local Jewish community. Over the centuries these activities attracted thousands of merchants, especially Levantines and Marranos, who, however, never fully integrated with the Italian Jews.
There is additional material in the 1999 book, p. 160:
Also, p. 115:Jews arrived in Ancona around the year 1000. In 1300, Ancona was second only to Rome in Jewish population.
Jews appear to have been less active on the western coast, at least before the deal with Lucca. The 1999 book observes of Genoa:The Jews of Rimini, Forli, Faenz, Ravenna, Russi, Cesena, and Bertinoro were involved in the maritime trade as early as the 13th century. There was a house identified as the "House of Ovadia," in Bertinoro, which was an important Rabbinical Academy.
In Pisa, Tuscan Jewish Itineraries, p.117, says:When Benjamin of Tudela, the Jewish Marco Polo, visited the city in 1159, he noted in his diary that there were only two Jewish families, of Moroccan descent, who ran a dyeworks.
Apparently Jews too poor to afford a headstone were simply buried next to the wall and a short commemoration scratched in its stones. It is regrettable that there is no information about the content of the contracts. The account continues (p. 118):Pisa may be the first Tuscan city in which the Jews settled. The first documentary evidence of a presence in the city is a contract of 850 registering the renting of a house by a Jew. Benjamin of Tudela provides further confirmation of the community when, in the account of his journey from spain to Jerusalem, he mentions meeting around twenty Jews in the port. From this period on there is considerable archive evidence of the presence of Jews - usually contracts of one kind or another. We also know that in the middle of the 13th century there was a street called Chiasso dei Giuei (Jews' Lane), in which there was probably a synagogue. A funeral inscription on the town walls dates from the same period (1264).
There are also many references to substantial settlements of Jews in all of southern Italy and Sardinia prior to 1492. Such settlements, given Jewish sanitation and dietary laws, if nothing else, would of necessity have included a variety of trades. A 1999 book by Annie Sacerdoti and Luca Fiorentine, Italy Jewish Travel Guide, translated by Richard F. De Lossa, ends its account of Sicily as follows:The Jewish population subsequently increased with the arrival of a number of Spanish and Provencal Jews fleeing reprisals after unjustly being accused of spreading the 1348 Plague - they had been expressly invited by the Commune of Pisa to settle in the city.
The Jews were expelled from Sicily in 1492, where they had made up 6% of the population. Fleeing to Calabria, they were expelled there in 1525, then from all of the Kingdom of Naples in 1542, whereupon they fled north and east.
These expulsions were a reflection of the establishment of Spanish direct rule in these places.
(c) Jews, Lucca, and silk
Another trade with some recorded history in Italy, including Jewish involvement, is that which I mentioned at the beginning: silk production.
In Europe silkworms were raised first in the Byzantine Empire, starting in the 6th century; they jealously guarded all aspects of the industry. But Arab conquests east and west ended that monopoly. Starting in 827 c.e. all or part of Sicily was in the Baghdad Caliphate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicily#Ara ... .931091.29), which had already gotten silkworms as part of the spoils in conquering Persia. Wischnitzer says, p. 59:
Footnote 20 is to the Babylonian Talmud. He later adds (p. 78):Jewish silk production was an important industry in the Baghdad caliphate and in Egypt, Sicily, and Spain in the early Middle Ages. Jews cultivated mulberry trees for silk production, bred silk worms, and spun silk yarn. Here again a religious question arose: was it permissible to feed the worms on Saturdays and during festivals? The gaon Hai consulted the opinions of his predecessors and decided that it was permissible to feed the worms on festivals, but not on the Sabbath. (20). The gaon Matatia permitted feeding them on the Sabbath also.
A current website, https://texeresilk.com/article/history_of_silk, says:The Saracens transplanted sericulture to Sicily, but it took firmer hold under the later Normal rule. The Italian silk manufacture originated in Sicily and in the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, whence it spread to central and northern Italy, France, and other parts of Europe. (9)
9. Encyclopedia Britannica, XX. 5.00, "Silk and Sericulture". A. J. Doren Italienische Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Jena, 1934, I. 491; Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 607; Thompson, Later Middle Ages, p. 251.
Then came the Normans, who took the island from the Arabs by 1091. In 1147 King Roger II of Sicily made a raid on Byzantium and took back with him a large number of Jewish silk workers, perhaps as many as 2000 from Thebes alone. Wischnitzer says (p. 70):In the seventh century, the Arabs conquered Persia, capturing their magnificent silks in the process. Sericulture and silk weaving thus spread through Africa, Sicily, and Spain as the Arabs swept through these lands. Andalusia was Europe's main silk-producing center in the tenth century.
This event is considered to mark the emancipation of western Europe from the Byzantine monopoly of sericulture, which now spread from Sicily to the Italian mainland and to Provence (6).
6. M. Camera, Memorie storico Diplomatische del' Antica Citta e Ducato di Amalfi, Salerno, 1876, I. 347; B. Strauss Die Juden im Koenigreich Sizilien unier des Mormannen und Staufen (cited as Straus, Sicilien[/]), Heidelberg, 1910, p. 66.
Sericulture seems to have spread in particular to the city of Lucca. Wischnitzer writes of Jewish weavers and dyers in Sicily (p. 80):
Some probably went to Lucca, where silk production flourished in the late Middle Ages.
At http://belovedlinens.net/fabrics/renais ... xtiles.php, we read:
During the 8th-10th c. Lucca was known for its merchants and luxury artisans. It was a center of Jewish life, led by the Kalonymos family that had kept alive commercial links with the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East. Lucca, having no direct access to the sea, forged an agreement with Genoa in the middle of the 12th c. which allowed its merchants to transport goods through the Genovese territory. In exchange, Genovese ships were to bring back to Italy the raw silk purchased by Lucca's merchants from the Levant. ... Lucca made notable improvements in the technology of silk-throwing devices and promoted the sericulture in the immediate countryside.
This essay cites Opera textilia variorum temporum, Stockholm, 1988. Donald et Monique King, adding that Donald King (d. 1998) was former Keeper of Textiles in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
There is much about the Kalonymos or Kolonymus family on the Internet. The Jewish Encyclopedia says in its article on Lucca (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10174-lucca):
Its Jewish community is known in literature especially through the Kalonymus family of Lucca, whose ancestor saved the life of the German emperor Otto II. after the battle of Cotrone in Calabria (982), and seems thereupon to have settled at Mayence, where the family had extensive privileges.
"Mayence" is the pre-20th century English word for "Mainz". There is also, in the Jewish Encyclopedia's article on France (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9990-limoges), mention of a legend that the one to encourage the family's settlement in Mayence was Charlemagne:
It is also stated that he wished to transplant the family of Kalonymus from Lucca to Mayence ("'Emeḳ ha-Bakah," p. 13).
Another source, http://www.cyclopaedia.de/wiki/Kalonymus, includes Charles the Bald as a third possibility for the ruler who induced the family to settle in Mainz. Prominent members of the family appear on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalonymos_family and links given there, as being in Italy--Lucca or Rome--between 780 and 976, thereafter Germany, Arles, and Narbonne. The famous Kabbalist Eleazar of Worms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleazar_of_Worms) was part of the Mainz branch. Only in 1465 do I find mention of a Kolonymus in Italy, an "Italian Jewish astrologer of the fifteenth century" dedicating his work to Ferdinand I of Naples" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kalonymus_ben_Jacob).
About pre-15th century Lucca, the book Tuscan Jewish Itineraries, edited by Dora Liscia Bemporad and Annamarcella Tedeschi Falco, 1997, on p. 102 quotes Benjamin de Tudela in his 12th century "Book of Travels" :
They add that:...at Lucca there are forty Jews. It is a large city and the Jews are led by Rabbi David, Rabbi Samuel and Rabbi Jaacob.
Due to its economic importance, Lucca already had a rabbinical school by the 9th century (transferred from Apulia). The town of Oria in Apulia was also the origin was also the origin of the Calonimos family (the future Calo family), who, in 1145, would offer hospitality to the poet Abraham ibn Ezra.
They say that after Benjamin's visit the numbers dwindled, in contrast to those in Pisa. There is no mention of what trades Jews practiced in Lucca until 1431, when Jews from Rome were given the monopoly on moneylending.
It may be that Jews, such as the Kolanymos family, or other Italians, shifted their activities in silk production to Provence and Languedoc, and/or moved to Pisa. I cannot find any recent documentation on when silkworms came to France. However, an 1832 book on silk manufacture (http://books.google.com/books?id=dvhAAQ ... ce&f=false) says that in northern France, silkworms were introduced by Henry IV (reigned 1588-1610), but had been "previously cultivated in the Lyonaisse, Dauphiné, Provence, and Languedoc" (p. 34). As to where those came from, the author says, some accounts say mulberry trees were brought into France at the time of Charles VIII's invasion of Italy; "other authorities as confidently say that Sicily was the country whence the mulberry was first transplanted into France" (p. 35). (I would think that at least by the time of the French occupation of Lombardy, 1499-1525, the thought would have occurred to them.) He does know about Muslim introduction of silkworms into Spain, but attributes to King Roger their introduction into Sicily (p. 25). As for the rest of Italy, he does not know; he suspects the Venetians, after they took over the centers of silk production in Greece in 1206, or the Genoese, after they had got control of the Greek island of Galata; but he asserts as "certain" that in Modena of 1306 the silk was judged the finest in Lombardy (p. 28). Florence, however, had the highest quantity, in 1300 employing thousands.
About Italy: the book gives no references. Another problem is how enough raw silk would have gotten to Modena and Florence; perhaps those Genoese were very good at transporting raw silk from the Levant. Venice, which did control 3/8ths of the territory seized after the sack of Constantinople, would have tried to guard its silkworms from other Italians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_Empire). But the other 5/8ths was the "Latin Empire", controled by varous Crusader factions. Galata is only nominally an island. It is separated from the mainland by a small inlet but was essentially a neighborhood of Constantinople, constituting its Jewish part (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galata). The width of the inlet can be seen in a modern picture at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galata_Bridge. According to Wikipedia the neighborhood was destroyed in 1203 in the early stages of the Sack of Constantinople. Jews, not treated well by the Greeks, conceivably might have been a valuable commodity to the Crusaders for their knowledge of silk production. The Crusaders' main focus then seems to have been recouping their considerable investments, which had drained their resources far beyond expectations. Before then, a "new" Genoese settlement had been destroyed in 1171, Wikipedia says. I would think the acquisition of silkworms at that time would be unlikely. Galata was retaken by the Byzantines in 1261, who granted it by treaty to the Genoese in 1267. By then, however, there would have been other sources for silkworms and knowledge of the industry.
About France: another website (http://www.maison-mimosa.com/flayosc_village.html), about a small village near the coast of Provence, recounts a legend about silkworm cultivation there before the advent of the plague (i.e. 14th century); they burned the mulberry trees (conveniently for the legend) as a defense against it, destroying the silk industry, apparently forever. There is today a "Rue des Fainéants", so named according to one legend because it meant "nitwits"', while "others think that they were persons collecting the leaves of the mulberry tree in order to feed the silk worms." There is no mention of Jews, but also no reason why there should be.
For Jewish participation in Italian silk production and merchandising before the 16th century other than Lucca, Wischnitzer mentions only Padua, p. 148,
Moses Mantica, fifteenth century, established the first workshop for silk production in that city.
For the 16th century, he cites Jewish involvement in the trade in Bologna and Rome. Also, an undated reference is in the 1999 book, p. 56. It says of Mondovi, Piedmont:
The Jews in the upper part of the city practiced moneylending. The Jews living in the countryside raised silkworms and produced silk. In 1724 a ghetto was created at Mondovi Piazza, in the upper part of the town, and the Jews were forced to quit the countryside, and take up residence in the Ghetto.
Given the mention of 1724, this record of silkworms is likely rather late.
One place where the record suggests that Jews did not engage in the silk trade is Florence. Wischnitzer says, in the context of the 16th-17th centuries:
Attempts by Florentine Jews to enter the production and sale of fabrics met with stubborn resistance from the Christian drapers and had to be given up.
Tuscan Jewish Itineraries finds the first mention of Jews living in Florence (as opposed to passing through) in 1427, licensing three pawn shops, "a move which marked the beginning of the Jewish community in that city" (p. 143). So I would guess there was no involvement in silk there by Jews in the 15th century.