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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ariel Toaff - BLOOD PASSOVER (B)

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CHAPTER TWO

SALAMONCINO DA PIOVE DI SACCO, PREDATORY FINANCIER

Salamoncino da Piove had four sons and a daughter. His family, in addition to managing the ("al Volto dei Negri") lending banks of Piove di Sacco and Padua, had major joint interests in other banks operating in Verona, Ferrara, Montegnara, Soave, Monselice, Cittadela, Bassano and Badia Polesine and was active in the textiles and precious stone trade. A secret and elite clientele, ranging from the Sforza at Milan to the Soranzo of Venice (1), came to them for huge sums. Marcuccio, Salomone's first-born son, when not operating in Piove si Sacco and Padua (2), supported by his brothers, stayed at Venice to assist his father in the company set up with David Mavrogonato, and to take over their functions when they accompanied the merchant from Candia in his maritime missions, which were conducted more or less secretly. He was in the City of the Lagoons in the autumn of 1466, as well as in the first half of the following year; thus, he was there in 1468, at the beginning of 1469, during the imperial visit of Friedrich III, and in 1473.
While Salomone was considered a bold and nonchalant businessman, his first-born, Marcuccio, and above all his other son, Salamoncino, darkened his reputation, at least in this respect. Marcuccio was famous to all for his overbearing boastfulness. It was said that, in that of Padua, he used to brag of his strength, real or presumed, with resounding threats: "There is no Christian who would have had the temerity to touch me with one finger, and would not have gotten a good hiding from a couple of well-armed ruffians" (3).
Marcuccio, who lived at Padua "facing the Parenzo or il Volto dei Negri" at least until the end of the winter of 1473, made his appearance as an officially approved money lender at Montagnana in 1475. He was still to be found in that financial center at the beginning of the summer of 1494, when Bernardino da Feltre arrived there to preach. On that occasion, Marcuccio did not hesitate to strut about on the piazza with a defiant air
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where the violent and fiery Friar da Feltre was expected to preach. As a result, Marcuccio was soon recognized by a Christian who insulted him, and the whole affair terminated in a sensational brawl, with a mutual exchange of fisticuffs, at the culmination of which the infuriated Marcuccio unsheathed his dagger threateningly. It is not surprising that he was to find himself imprisoned in the prisons of the Republic with relative frequency (4).
Marcuccio could nevertheless still count on the influential protection of the city of Venice, which protection he had inherited, together with the privileges obtained by his father, Salomone da Piove. In April 1480, the Council of Ten declared him a fidelis noster civis [loyal citizen] of Venice, under the terms of a law approved by the Serenissima at the end of 1463 on the protection of Jewish money lenders. We know that his father chose to live in Venice during this same period, and it is not difficult to believe that this law was in some way the product of some self-interested initiative (5).
But it was Salamoncino, his brother, who maintained uncontested primacy in this poorly regulated financial sector, where transactions took place with the underworld and the law was only obeyed in those rare cases in which its defenders refused large bribes. Salamoncino took over the management of the bank at Pivoe di Sacco after 1464, when his father took up a more or less stable residence at Venice for the purpose of looking after Mavrogonato’s interests, although -- as we shall see -- he seems to have taken up provisional residence at Verona in the years 1470-1480 (6). In 1474, the Duke of Milan ordered an inquiry of Salamoncino and his suspected accomplices, all accused of illegal purchasing and selling pearls, despite the legal provisions prohibiting Jews from engaging in this trade (7).
Salamoncino had already experienced serious legal problems. In 1472, two common criminals, Giovanni Antonio da Milano and Abbondio da Como, were arrested in Venice under the accusation of importing large quantities of counterfeit silver coin from Ferrara and selling it in Venice, earning large profits (8). This fraudulent trade was operated through a front operation, a butcher shop owned by a certain Nicola Fugazzone, "butcher at Venice", at San Cassian, and a Jewish intermediary, Zaccaria di Isacco, who had his provisional residence in Venice, and was responsible to Salamoncino, money lender at Piove di Sacco (9). The police authorities succeeded in laying their hands on all members of the gang, and they were tried before the judges of the Municipal Avogaria of Venice on 29 May 1472.
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The two criminals, from Lombardy, Giovanni Antonio and Abbondio, were sentenced to the cruel amputation of the right hand, the loss of an eye, a fine of fifty thousand ducats in gold each, and were banned in perpetuity from Venice and all the territories of the Republic (10). The sentence was carried out publicly on the same day, in the usual place, the Piazza San Marco, between the columns of San Marco and San Todaro, where the waters of the lagoon washed the pavement. The butcher, Nicola, and one accomplice, Lorenzo Paolo, were condemned to one year's imprisonment, and banned from Venice for eight years. Paolo was also fined one hundred ducats (11). The intermediary, Zaccaria, considered Salamoncino’s “enforcer”, was sentenced one year's imprisonment, in addition the fine of two hundred gold ducats. After serving the sentence, he is said to have been banned from Venice and its territories for eight years (12).
Salamoncino was obviously linked to the shady traffic at both ends: at Ferrara, where his family had a bank, and where the counterfeiters operated, sending the counterfeit coins to Venice, via their couriers; and at Piove di Sacco, where Salamoncino usually resided, and where the counterfeit coins were usually shipped before being distributed to retailers (13). Arrested and subjected to torture, Salamoncino signed a confession and admitted that he had earned a profit of ten percent from the trade in counterfeit coin (14). The Venetian judges sentenced him to six months imprisonment and the huge fine of three thousand gold ducats: two thousand payable to the Arsenal, and the remaining one thousand payable to the Avogaria di Comun. Furthermore, the banker from Piove was banned for ten years from Venice and the surrounding district, as well as from Padua and the territory of Padua. In the event of violation of the ban, the penalty of another year’s imprisonment and a further fine of one thousand gold ducats was provided for (15). While, on the one hand, Salamoncino may have more or less voluntarily submitted to the fine and perhaps to the imprisonment, at the same time, he is thought to have found a way -- and it is not difficult to imagine how -- to evade the ban, at least in part. At the end of the year, he was already active again at Soave and Verona; five years later -- as we shall see -- he firmly resumed management of the bank at Piove di Sacco and the Volto di Negri bank at Padua (16).
The wolf had lost a few tufts of fur, but not his teeth. According to records written by the Paduan orator, Giolamo Campagnola, in 1480, Salamoncino was then presumably resident at Verona, and once again found himself in prison, at the disposition of the Council of Ten,
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under the accusation of selling clipped and counterfeit coin, a charge which he was able to evade in part by shifting the blame onto an accomplice, a miserable brigand from Verona, who ended up at the stake (17).
Salamoninco da Piove, Salamoncino's father, was dead by the beginning of 1477. Maestro Valco, the Jewish physician who had received the assignment -- obviously for pay -- of assassinating Mahomet II at the behest of the Serenissima, had, in the meantime, returned to Venice, presumably to render account to his instigator of the progress of the plot. At Venice, or during the course of his voyage from Constantinople, the physician had been informed that Salamoncino was no longer alive. Understandably anxious about the continued existence of the mission, but, above all, because he feared for his pay, which had been promised by the now-deceased banker, Valco set out to track down Salamoncino, returning rapidly to Piove di Sasso.
At first, Salamoncino was thunderstruck; but, then, examining his father's records, he found clear evidence of the contract signed with the homicidal physician in the past. As a practical and alert person, Salamoncino was immediately aware that Valco possessed the necessary talents to carry out the hazardous mission of assassinating the Great Turk successfully. At the same time, he weighed all the potential benefits to be derived from future relations with the government of Venice. At this point, Salamoncino did not hesitate to assume responsibility for continuation of his father's commitment from both the strategic and financial points of view. On 9 July 1477, he officially informed the Council of Ten of his resolution to do so, making it to appear an act of disinterested devotion to the Republic. Obviously, in 1470, Salamone da Piove, perhaps inheriting a project initially dreamed up by Mavrogonato, suggested that Maestro Valco should carry out the plan "to take the life of the Great Turk", by 1480 -- a period of ten years, believed sufficient for the task. Salamoncino, rejoining the ranks of the conspiracy, ensured the city of Venice that the task would indeed be carried out during the stipulated time period, and that, Mahomet II would meet the death he deserved, at Valco’s hands, in less than two and one half years.
"Maestro Valco, a Jewish physician [...] who returned and, finding the said Salamon (a Jew who kept the banco da Pieve) to be dead, turned to Salamoncin, son of the said Salamon, and, having informed him of the matter, and Salamon, examining the books, found this to be the case.
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“Not wishing to be a lesser servant of your most Illustrious Lordship than he who was my father, and having learned from the said Maestro Valco, Jewish physician, of that which had happened to the person of the Great Turk [...], Salamonzin examined the said Maestro Valco, and having witnessed his courage and intelligence and being convinced of his determination, being the slave and servant of your Most Illustrious Lordship (18), as was his father, without costing your Most Illustrious Lordship one penny, offers to send the said Maestro Valco, with all things requested by the said Valco, at Salamoncin’s own expense [...] and is certain that the said Maestro Valco will kill the said Lord Turk by the end of 28 May, which matter will be to the glory of this Illustrious State and all Christianity (19)."
It goes without saying that Salamoncino was not entirely disinterested. In exchange for these services, "because, in so doing, he acts in danger of his life, which cannot be repaid with money", if the mission ended successfully, Salamoncino, following in Mavrogonato’s footsteps, asked Venice for a few privileges, including an annual provision of two thousand florins, the beneficiaries of which are said to have included Salamoncino, Maestro Valco and their descendants in perpetuity, the entitlement of occupying themselves with some branch of trade ("request that the said Salamoncino and his brothers, with their descendants, be permitted to deal in trade in this terrain, as any gentleman may do"), a privilege generally prohibited to Jews, and to purchase real property at Venice and its dominions, up to a total value of twenty five thousand ducats (20). Salamoncino, who was certainly not lacking in healthy doses of impudence, in addition to an uncommon dose of greed, furthermore requested that he be permitted to open lending banks modeled on the example of those operating at Mestre, and, in particular, one in the much-sought after piazza of the island of Murano ("intending that one of these locations be understood to refer to Murano"). He finally requested that he enjoy immunity from any possible future bans issued by the Venetian authorities against him personally or any member of his family (21).
The Council of Ten officially accepted Salamoncino’s petitions, but on the condition that the granting of the privileges be subject to the presentation of certain proof of the death of Mahomet II at the hands of Maestro Valco. But things turned out differently. In 1480, Mahomet II was still alive, despite the efforts of Valco and Simoncino to bring about a contrary state of affairs, while Venice, concerned with the pressure of the Turkish armies on its confines, had already signed a

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peace treaty with the Sublime Porte a year before. The Sultan then terminated his earthly existence in 1481 – in all probability, as the result of perfectly natural causes. Salamoncino's financial plans and those of his family, linked to the ambitious plot, which had failed miserably, therefore appeared definitely on the wane.
Either something or someone had moved the city of Venice to grant the benefits requested by Salamoncino, at least in part. In fact, we know that the government of Padua, in 1495, under pressure from the weavers' guild, had requested Venice to abrogate the privileges enjoyed by Salamoncino and his family at Piove di Sacco and Padua (22). Even more interesting is the confirmation that, much later, in 1557, a certain "Salamon, a Jew, a certain Marcuzio, known as ‘da Muran’", was called upon to testify in a trial held before the Holy Office at Venice. This Salamon was certainly a descendant of Salamone da Piove -- or, to be more exact, a nephew of his son Giacobbe. The fact that he was known as the “Jew of Muran” is an indication, not to be undervalued, in support of the hypothesis that the plan to open a lending bank on the island of Murano, strongly desired by Salamoncino, had in some way succeeded, for reasons unknown to us (23).
During the second half of the 15th century, the family of Salamone da Piove and the Camposampiero was experiencing the ups and downs of the loan market sector at Padua, enjoying undisputed hegemony within the local Jewish community (24). It was in 1453, precisely in the palace of Salomone di Marcuccio da Cividale (who is later believed to have become the famous Salomone da Piove), at Padua, in the Santo Stefano district, that Salomone Levi had taken over the ownership of the bank of Camposampiero, thus initiating his fortunate career as a high-ranking banker (25).
But the unforeseen and disagreeable presence of a certain someone constituted grounds for disturbance and concern. After the Jewish banks of Padua were officially closed in 1455, a Swiss Jew appeared in the city in the early summer of 1464, not concealing his own intentions and, above all, without having asked and obtained the implicit and apparently indispensable authorization of the powerful bankers of Piove and Camposampiero. The Swiss Jew was Aronne di Jacob, a Jew from Wil, north of Zurich, a short distance from Schaffhausen, on the Rhine, a village located at the boundary between the Swiss Confederation and Germany. Aronne had decided to move to the strategic Venetian financial center in search of
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money and fortune, dragging his two brothers, Vita and Benedetto, along with him (26). Furthermore, around 1471, just as other Jewish bankers had already done in the district, in 1468, Aronne obtained authorization to carry on activity as approved lender at Padua, three days in the week, ultimately freeing himself this de facto restriction. He thus began to operate the bank "del Duomo" with undeniable success, despite the powerful cartel of his adversaries (27).
It should not surprise us that in the spring of 1472, an anonymous denunciation, easily attributable to the entourage of bankers of Piove and Camposampiero, noted that Aronne's bank, against all the regulations, had kept its doors open on Sunday, in open violation of the Christian religion (28). In the summer of 1473, Salomone da Piove, in a dispute with Mattia, lender of the Paduan bank of San Lorenzo, appointed as arbiter a friend of the family, i.e., Jacob, the son of Salomone da Campsosampiero. Representing the adverse party was Aronne, who did not bother to conceal his own enmity towards the powerful bankers of Piove and Camposampiero (29).
A few years later, in 1476, the Swiss Jew saw himself compelled to sell the two banks owned by him, the "del Duomo" bank at Padua and the bank at Monselice, to Abramo di Bonaventura, a Jew of Ashkenazi origin from Ulm, Germany (30). Abramo hastened to fall in line with the Paduan cartel of Jewish bankers, particularly, Jacob, Salomone di Padova’s son, and Simone, Salomone da Camposampiero’s son, who already controlled the two most important banks in the town center of Padua -- the “al Volto dei Negri” bank and the bank of San Lorenzo -- since 1472. Exactly who formed of this powerful cartel emerges clearly from the negotiations between the Republic of Venice and the Paduan Jewish bankers in 1486, including Jacob da Piove, Simone da Composampiero, Abramo da Ulm and Isacchetto Finzi (31).
Aronne appears not to have been very successful in the difficult business of lending money at interest, both at Padua and Monselice. Obstacles were placed in his way on many occasions, and it was a consolation to him that he had not been broken or killed. Aronne had already restricted his activity to that of “rag paper making” as early as 1473 (32); a few years later, he attempted to invest the modest sums he had been able to scrape together from the sale of his bank in a safe manner. Aronne, the Swiss Jew from Wil, had arrived at Padua as an outsider, bold and without resources, at least in the eyes of Piove and Camposampiero. Salomone da Piove’s

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impatient and fiery sons had their pockets full and were waiting for Aronne to hit bottom.
In 1481, Salamoncino da Piove dreamed up a colossal swindle -- this time to the detriment of other Jews -- to rake in money by the wheelbarrow full. In cahoots with David di Anselmo, known as “David Schwab”, he secretly decided to transfer the savings invested by Paduan Jews in the Bank at Soave, to bank at Piove di Sacco, owned by David di Anselmo. These savings amounted to a huge sum, as much as 1,500 ducats in gold, belonging to Paduan Jews, from the lower middle classes, mostly small investors and savers. The victims of the inevitable, deliberate, collapse of the Banco di Soave included rabbis, students, widows and other poor people, among them the unfortunate Aronne da Wil, who had deposited the money collected from the sale of his banks there in 1476. Aronne, acting on behalf of the other victims of the fraud as well, had the Banco di Soave agent -- Jacob di Lazzaro – arrested; this same agent was still in jail at the end of 1485, when he finally succeeded in obtaining his release, after withdrawing part of the money earlier stolen via Salamoncino’s bank and returning it to Aronne (33). But he was obviously the smallest fish of the lot.
“David Schwab” went bankrupt "with his pockets full", in an artful financial crash thought up in league with the negligent bankers of Piove, who had gotten their hands on a notable slice of the money embezzled from the tills of the Banco di Soave. But Schwab was pursued by a religious interdict (cherem), pregnant with consequences, handed down against him by Rabbi Anshel (Asher) Enschkin, who had lost more than a thousand ducats entrusted to him for investment by persons of modest wealth. Enschkin publicly unmasked Schwab, who had declared bankruptcy "notwithstanding the fact that he still had all the money". The religious condemnation handed down by Enschkin, was approved and subscribed by some of the most influential rabbis of Germany (34).
Nor did Aronne da Wil intend to stop attempting to bring an action directly against Salamoncino da Piove and his Paduan accomplices. In the spring of 1481, the two contending parties, by common accord, decided to submit to the arbitration of two Jews of German origin, residents of the region of Padua. The two arbitrators were the rabbis Isach Ingdam and Viviano da Vacheron, residents of the Duomo and San Cancian districts, at Padua, respectively (35). Obviously the final award, expressed in accord with the legal system in use at Venice, was far from satisfactory
p. 43]
to Salamoncino, who was, on several occasions during the following years, obliged to face his exasperating and implacable rival in court. In the end, the Piove di Sacco banker lost his patience -- which he must not have possessed in excessive doses -- and decided to take the law into his own hands, freeing himself from what he now considered an enemy to be eliminated.
In the winter of 1487, Salamoncino sent a hired killer to Venice, where Aronne was staying at that time, with the assignment of getting rid of Aronne without a trace. In a night in January Isaia Teutonico, known as Salamoncino’s servant and bodyguard, attacked the impoverished Aronne from behind, just as Aronne was leaving the Jewish hospice at San Polo, before he could reach his son-in-law’s home, a few islands away. Aronne was struck on the head with an edged weapon and left to die, on the ground, in a pool of blood (36).

Aronne, despite a serious head wound and skull fracture, survived the attack, and later denounced his unknown aggressor. A reward was immediately placed on the attacker’s head, and his identity was quite soon discovered by the police authorities (37). On 22 May 1488, the would-be killer, Isaia, who had, in the meantime, prudently taken flight, was tried in absentia and banned in perpetuity from Venice and its territories. If he was captured, he was to suffer a particularly cruel fate: dragged to the scene of the crime, he was to lose his right hand, after which, with his own hand appended to his neck, he was to be conducted to the Piazza San Marco and publicly beheaded between the two usual columns (38).
Once the attacker was identified, it was child’s play for the Venetian city authorities to identify the instigator, the unscrupulous businessman from Piove di Sacco, who had already served more than one term in the prisons of the Republic. Finding himself unmasked, Salamoncino spontaneously appeared at the Public Prosecutor’s office, admitting to commissioning the crime and paying the killer to commit it. He then excused himself by saying that the victim had never ceased importuning him, dragging him through one long, exhausting judicial dispute after another until, driven to his wits’ end, he had decided to free himself from the intolerable nuisance once and for all (39). Salamoncino got off with a relatively mild sentence, which is not surprising in view of the type of relationship linking him, more or less obviously and officially, with the Venetian authorities. In the end, he was sentenced to six months imprison, in commutation of which he would be banned from Venice
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and its territories for four years, in addition to the payment of a fine of two hundred gold ducats, to be paid partly to the Hospital of Piety (40) .
But Salamoncino was back at work as early as one year later, in 1489, managing his network of banks, at Piove di Sacco and Padua (41). In 1495, the municipality of Padua petitioned the Republic of Venice to revoke the chapters of the loan granted to Salamoncino as well as all related privileges (42). But Venice refused. As mentioned by Marin Sanudo in his Diaries, in 1499, "Salamonsin de Piove de Sacho" was one of the Jewish bankers engaged in negotiations with Venice for the concession of the huge sum of fifteen thousand ducats, to be pledged by the Republic "in the Turkish matters", i.e., the war effort against the Sublime Porte (43). Salamoncino -- who had intended to remain at Piove di Sacco at least until 1504, according to Sanudo -- was definitively expelled from the city of Venice one year later, allowing the city to breathe one last sigh of relief. Salamoncino’s memory, ambiguous and disturbing, was then lost in the mists of the lagoons of Venice.
--
NOTES TO CHAPTER TWO
1.Cfr. D. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività. Saggi di storia degli ebrei a Padova e nel Veneto nell'eta del Rinascimento, Florence, 2002, pp. 39, 48.
2. On the activities of Marcuccio at Padova and Piove di Sacco, cfr ibidem, pp. 45-50.
3. Girolamo Campagnola da Padova, in an unpublished oration, written after 1480 in celebration of the martyrdom of Simone da Trento and of Sebastiano Novello at Portobuffolè, recalled Marcuccio’s exasperating arrogance, at that time a money lender at Montagnana: "Quis Marcutio fratre (Salamoncini hebraeo), etiam carcere concluso, audacior et insolentior unquam fuit? Ille mihi ait: scias, velim, Christiani nominis esse neminem, qui mihi digiti, ut ajunt, offensiunculam faciat, quin alteram duorum sibi lacertorum non reddam" [Approximately: “Is there anybody more audacious and impudent than Marcuccio, the brother of Salmoncino the Jew, who spends half his time in jail? He told me, look, no Christian would dare do me any offense, without getting a good beating from two of his henchmen”] (cfr. [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trento nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso, Trent, Grianbattista Parone, 1747, pp. 280-281).
4. On 27 February 1473 Marcuccio, at that time a resident of Padua, together with his brother Salomoninco and their father Salomone da Piove, were denounced for calumny and embezzlement by a law student at the Studio (ASP, Notarile, Luca Talmazzo, 253, cc. 252r-254r).
On his long residence in Montagnara, documented since 1475, his activity as an approved money lender and the events linked to the visit of Bernardino da Feltre, see, in particular, V. Meneghin, Bernardino da Feltre e I Monti di Pietà, Vicenza, 1974, pp. 489-502.
5. ASV, Consiglio dei Dieci, Lettere, file 2 (1476-1483). The heads of the Consiglio called Marcuccio "fidelis noster civis Marcuonus (recte: Marcutius) ebreus quondam Salomonis de Plebesaccii" [“Marcuccio, loyal citizen of our city, (son of) the late Salamone di Plebe di Sacco”] , then a resident of Montagnana. The privileges Marcuccio enjoyed, and his father as well, constituted an extension of those granted by Venice to David Mavrogonato and his family in the past. The Doge, in a letter to the rulers of Candia in 1532, referring to Meir Mavrogonato, a descendent of David, recommended the application in his regard of the privileges which he enjoyed, "essendo trattato come li cittadini Venetiani nelle datiii et alter fattioni, et esento lui et figlioli dell'angarie che fanno l'Hebrei, secondo la forma delli soi privilegge" [“being treated like the citizens of Venice in all respects, and free of the annoyances suffered by Jews, according to the manner of their privileges”] (cfr. D. Jacoby, On the Status of Jews in the Venetian Colonies in the Middle Ages, in "Zion", XXVIII, 1963, pp. 57-69 [in Hebrew].
6. On Salamoncino’s mercantile and financial activity at Piove di Sacco, Padova and Verona, see D. Jocoby, New Evidence on Jewish Bankers in Venice and the Venetian Terraferma (c. 1450-1550) , in A. Toaff and Sh. Schwarzfuchs, The Mediterranean and the Jews. Banking, Finance and International Trade (XVI-XVIII Centuries), Ramat Gan, 1989, pp. 155-156; Capri, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 54-58; G.M. Varanini, Appunti per la storia del prestito e dell'insediamento ebraico a Verona nel Quattrocento, in G. Cozzi, Gli ebrei e Venezia (secoli XIV-XVIII), Milan, 1987, p. 621.
7. Cfr. Sh. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, Jerusalem, 1982, vol. I, p. 633, no. 1538. The document is dated: Lonate, 30 October 1474.
8. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (II), cc. 8v-9r (29 May 1472). I wish to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Rachele Scuro for her invaluable assistance in transcribing the documents and my friend Reiny Mueller of Venice for his archiving tips, which were always illuminating. "Joannes Antonius de Mediolano et Abundius de Cumis [...] confessi fuerunt se pluries conduxisse e Farraria Venetias multam quantitatem monetarum argenti falsarum verum grossestos et grossones ad similitudinem stampe Dominii Nostri, quas monetas scienter accipiebant a fabricatoribus illarum et illas, reductas Venetias, dispensabant diversis personis, a quibus habebant ad incontrum ducatos auri et argenti cum certa sua utilitate". On the crisis of May 1472 and the "monetary war" being waged between Venice and Milan, see, in particular, R.C. Mueller, L'imperialismo monetario veneziano nel Quattrocento, in "Società et Storia", VIII (1980), pp. 227-297 (292-294); Id., Guerra monetaria fra Venezia e Milano nel Quattrocento , in La Zecca di Milano, Records of the Congress, Milan, May 1983, pp. 341-355.
9. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (II), c. 9rv (29 May 1472): "Nicolaus Fugaconus, becharius de Veneciis et socii quos processum fuit [...] pro eo quod etiam ipse habuit commertium cum Abundio infrascripto, conductore monetarum falsum, a quo recepit satis bonam quantitatem dictarum falsarum pecuniarium, cum utilitate .XIII pro centenario, et fuit medius ad faciendum quod Salamoncinus supascriptus haberet de dictis monetis cum infrascripto Zacharia, etiam judeo [...] quod procedatur contra Nicolaus Fugaconus, Laurentium Paulo et Zachariam iudeum qui, spiritu avaritie ducti, scienter acceptaverunt, cum certa utilitate, monetas argenti falsas ex Ferraria Venetias conductas, illas dispensando pro bonis".
10. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (II), cc. 8v-9r (29 May 1472): [...] quod Johannes Antonius infrasciptus hodie postprandium hora solita conducatur in medio duarum colunnarum, ubi per ministrum iustitie sibi ascindatur manus dextera et eruatur unus oculus et solvat ducatos quingentos auri [...] et postea banniatur perpetuo de Venetiis et de omnibus terris et locis Dominii Nostrii, tam a parte terre quam maris [...] et quod iste Abondius hodie post prandium hora solita conducatur in medio duarum colunnarum, ubi per ministrum iustitie ascindatur manus dextera eruatur unus oculus et solvat ducatos. Vc. Auri [...] et postea banniatur perpetuo de Venetiis et de omnibus terris Dominii Nostri, tam a parte terre quam maris".
11. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Rapse, 3653 (II), c. 9v: "[...] quod iste Nicolaus Fugaconus compleat annum in carcere et deinde banniatur per annos octo de Venetiis et districtu [...] et quod banchum becharie reservetur, et Laurentius Paulo compleat annum unum in carcere et solvat ducatos centum Advocatoribus et deinde banniatur per annos octo de Venetiis et districtu".
12. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (II), c. 9v: "Zacharias iudeus quondam Isahac, hospes in Venetiis, compleat annum unum in carcere et solvat ducatos ducentos auri [...] et deinde banniatur per annos octo de Venetiis et districtu".
13. Salomone di Marcuccio da Piove and his children were the proprietors of the "Banco dei Carri" on the town square of Ferrara in 1473 (cfr. P. Norsa, Una famiglia di banchieri: la famiglia Norsa, 1350-1950, Napoli, 1953, p. 15).
14. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (II), c. 9r (c. 114r of the modern pencil numeration at the bottom of the page, 29 May 1472): "Salamoncinus Salamonis, hebreus de Prebesacci, contra quem fuit et est processum [...] quod spiritu avaritie ductus, non contentus de usuris [...] scienter se inmiscuit in acceptando et dispensando de monetis falsis, cum utilitate ducatorum .x pro centenario, sicut ad torturam confessum est".
15. The Trial "contra Salamoncinum filium Salomonis fenetoris in Plebesacci" concluded with the sentence "quod iste Salamoncinus stet menses sex in carceribus clausus, et solvat ducatis duomille nostro arsenatui et mille Advocatoribus nostris, qui dent quantum accusatori, et non incipiat tempus carceris nisi cum integritate persolverit et deinde banniatur per annos decem de Venetiis et districtus et Padua et territorio paduano, et si tempore banni contrafecerit stet anno in carcere et solvat ducatos mille et iterum remittatur ad bannum et sic publicetur in schalis Rivoalti". Salomone, his father, being compelled to take over the management of the Banco di Piove di Sacco, on 16 July 1472 conferred the position upon Moise di Elyakim de Alemannia for the duration of ten years (cfr Carpi, L'individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 40). Salomone, who is thought to have passed on to a better life before 1476, truly could not have imagined that five years later, in 1477, Salamoncino would already have returned to Piove.
16. Cfr. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 47, 55.
17. "Fama est Salamoncinum hebreum, decem Virorum issu, in vinculis in presentarium detentum, cum adulterinae monetae majestatis crimine alias damnatus esset. Ut se ab exitio per Christiani hominis pernicem liberaret, pauperem quendam Veronensem ad cudendam monetam circumvenisse; ab eo postmodo accusatum flammarum subisse supplicium; utque alterum civem ab se furti crimine accusatum in exilium compelleret, quidquid fide dignis testibus ostendere non valuit, magicis artibus conjectari, indiciarique curasse; quibus corvum humanam emisse vocem, ipsumque furem nominasse fertur" ([Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 280-281). This quotation, together with the fact that the manuscript oration of Girolamo Campagnola is preserved at Verona, seems to confirm the arguments put forth by Varanini (Appunti per la storia del prestito, cit., p. 621) that Salamoncino was residing in Verona more or less permanently around 1470- 1480.
18. The expression may refer to the role of “Hofsklaven”, assigned to the Jews under the Germanic Empire.
19. Salamoncino da Piove's petition to the Consiglio dei Dieci, dated 9 July 1477, has been published in its entirety in F. Babinger, Ja'aqub- Pascha, ein Leibarzt Mehmeds II, Leben und Schicksale des Maestros Jacopo aus Gaeta , in "Rivista degli Studi Orientali", XXVI (1951), pp. 196-197. Similar privileges are said to have been requested by Salamoncino's brother, Fays, from Francesco II Gonzaga in 1495 (cfr. E. Castelli, I banchi feneratizi ebraici nel mantovano, 1386-1808, Mantua, 1959, p. 215).
20. This would have had to have been in obvious derogation from the law of 1423, otherwise rigid relating to the landed property of the Jews (cfr. R.C. Mueller, Les prêteurs juifs de Venise au Moyen Age, in "Annales ESC", XXX, 1975, p. 1302, no. 96).
21. Cfr. Jacoby, New Evidence on Jewish Bankers in Venice, cit., pp. 156-157; Carpi, L'individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 54-55.
22. Cfr. Jacoby, New Evidence of Jewish Bankers in Venice, cit., pp. 156-157; Carpi, L'individua e la collettività, cit., p. 55.
23. Cfr. P.C. Ioly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti. I: 1560-1560 , Florence, 1980, pp. 270-272.
24. Cfr. Jacoby, New Evidence on Jewish Bankers in Venice, cit., pp. 151-178; Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 27-110.
25. Cfr. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 61.
26. On 27 March 1466, Aronne di Jacob signed a postal service agreement with a porter from Padua, who was to look after his epistolary relationships with his father-in-law and brother-in-law, both of them resident at Wil (Vil), in Switzerland (ASP, Notarile, Giacomo Bono, 216, c. 51r). As early in 1464 (14 June) Aronne was a resident of Padua, in the district of San Cancian, lending money at interest, benefiting from the banking services at Piove di Sacco (ASP, Notarile, Francesco Giusto senior, 1591, c. 384r).
27. Cfr. D. Carpi, The Jews of Padua During the Renaissance (1369-1509), a doctoral thesis written in Jerusalem in 1967, p. 193. For the money lending activity carried on by Aronne at Padua, probably without official approval, in the past years, see ASP, Notarile, Nicolo Brutto, 3117, c. 414r (10 June 1465); Notarile, Giannantonio da Mirano, 2681, c. 214v (30 June 1466). Alessandro di Jacob was associated with the three brothers, Aronne, Vita and Benedetto da Wil, in the affairs of the Banco del Duomo at Padua and the other bank at Monselice, also under his ownership.
28. Cfr. Carip, The Jews of Padua, cit., p. 193.
29. On this controversy, see Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 48. Aronne had already had a dispute with Salomone "hebreus fenerans in Plebe Sacci ", but had in some way reached a settlement ("dictus Aron et dictus Salomon, nolentes ire per litigia sed parcere litibus et expensis, devenerunt ad compositionem"). See ASP, Notarile, Francesco Giusti senior, 1591, c. 384r. (14 June 1464).
30. "Abram qm magistri Bonaventure ab Ulmo, hebreus fenerator Padue in contrata Domi, habens loco Ixep Sacerdotis et Aronis qm Jacob hebreorum ad fenerandum in Padua et Montselice, ut constat ducalibus datis die XVI augusti MCCCCLXXVI" (ASP, Notarile, Francesco Fabrizio, 2917, c. 271r). Abramo da Ulm was the father-in-law of that Abba del Medigo di Candia of whom we will have occasion to speak at length in the next chapter.
31. Cfr. Capri, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 47, 53.
32. As early as 23 February 1473 Aronne appears as a "strazzarolo in contra' San Cancian" [“rag-paper maker in the San Cancian district”] at Padua (ASP, Notarile, Luca Talmazzo, 253, c. 251r).
33. On the fraudulent insolvency of the Banco di Soave and the arrest of Jacob, David Schwab's factor, see ASP, Notarile, Ambrogio da Rudena, 779, c. 460r (3 November 1485). Jacob delivered 155 gold ducats to Aronne "existentes penes Salabmonzium hebreum de Plebe [...] quos denarios dictus Jacob affirmavit fuisse et esse dictorum bonorum intromissum ad dictum banchum Suapsis". As early as 1470, Aronne da Wil, turning to the Paduan tax authorities, asserted that he had operated mostly for the accounts of other savers: "io non trafego del mio altro che liere octozente [= 800 lire], e de questo, piasendo ale spectabilità vostre, sempre me ne faro fede de questo, ma io trafego robe de diversi zodii" (ASP, Estimo 1418, 92, c. 14r).
34. In this regard, see J. Hutner, Quattro responsi rituali relativi ad un rabbino che aveva emesso un interdetto religioso che colpiva colui che lo aveva defraudato , in Memoriale Volume in Honor of Rabbi J.B. Zolti, Jerusalem, 1987, pp. 256-263 (in Hebrew).
35. "Haron ebreus qm Jacob, habitator in contrata Domi, parte una, et Jacob qm Salamonis de Plebe, suo nomine et Fais et Salamonis (i.e.: Salamoncini) fratrum, Isachetus qm Consilii de contrata Strate, Enselmus filius quibuscumque differentiis existentibus inter dictas partes se compromiserunt in magistrum Isach Ingdam hebreum, habitatorem in contrata Domi elledum pro parte dicti Haron, et in magistrum Vivianum de Vaischoron de contrata S. Canciani, electum per superscriptos Jacob et socios, secundum morem, leges et stillum alme civitas Veneciarum" (ASP, Notarile, Luca Talmazzo, 251, c. 58r. (10 May 1481).
36. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3656 (II), c. 72r. (22 May 1488). "Isaas iudeus theothonicus, solitus esse famulus Salamoncini iudei de Plebesacci, absens, contra quem processum fuit [...] coram officium suum in consilio prefatorum dominorum Advocatorum comunis cum gravissima querella comparuisse Aron quondam Jacob iudeus et exposuisset quod quodam siro, circa prima in secunda horam noctis, dum veniret ab hospitio iudeorum de contracta sanctii Pauli et iret ad domum Jacob iudei, generi sui, parum procul ab ipso hospitio, fuerit a quodam incognito proditorie a parte posteriori cum uno case percussus et vulneratus una percussione de taleo supra caput cum maxima effusione sanquinis et fracturam longa[m] per unum digitum, pro quo quidem delicto petebat iustitiam administrari".
37. "[...] et tandem posita est et capita fuit pars de talea sub die xxi aprilis proxima et consequentis publicata in schalis Rivoalti, cuius vertute data noticia officio prefatorum dominorum Advocatorum quod dictus Isayas fuerit et est ille qui tale maleficium commisit gratia et ad instantiam infrascripti Salamoncini [...] et sic captum fuit quod ipse Isayas retinetur [...] Fuit itaque proclamatus in schalis Rivoalti ad se defenderum cum termine dierum octo, qui dum non comparuisset, immo in sua contumacia perseverasset, fuit absens".
38. "[...] quod procedatur contra Isayam teothonicum iudeum, alias solitum esse famulum Salamoncini iudei de Plebesacci, absentem sed legitime citatum super schalis Rivoalti, ex eo quod, ad instantium dicti Salamoncini, de mense januarii 1486 [= 1487] tempore noctis, percussit Aronem iudeum proditorie una percussione de taleo super capite, cum incisione et effusione sanguine ac offensione ossis [...] et captum fuit quod iste Isayas sit bannitus perpetuo de Venetiis et districtus et de aliis terris et locis Nostri Dominii ad confinia furum, et si quo tempore contrafecerit banno et captus fuerit, conducatur ad locum delicti commissi ubi sibi manus dextera amputetur et deinde, cum ea appensa ad collum, conducatur in medio duarum collunnarum ubi sibi caput a spatulis amputetur sic quod moriatur".
39. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3536 (II), c. 72rv (c. 179rv according to the modern numbering in pencil on a paper label (23 May 1488). "Salamoncinus quondam Salamonis, iudeus de Plebesacci, contra quem processum fuit [...] super casu infrascriptis insultis et vulneris, illatis in personam infrascripti Aronis [...] venit ad officium advocarie se ipsum manifestavit et quomodo ipse erat in societate euisdem Isaie supscrascripti, ut quod eius Salamoncini causa motus ipsum taliter vulneravetur [...] quia sepius et continue fuerat molestatus Salamoncinus ipse in litibus ab ipso Arone".
40. "[...] quod dictus Salamoncinus, iam prope ea retentus, bene retentus remaneat [...] et quod procedatur contra Salamoncinum quondam Salamonis de Plebisacci iudei, qui fuit mandator et auctor dicte percussionis [...] captum fuit quod ipse Salamoncinus complere debeat menses sex in carceribus clausus, solvat ducatos ducentos auri, quorum centum sint hospitali Pietatis, alii verum centum sint Advocatorum comunis, sit postea bannitus per annos quatuor".
41. In the summer of 1490, Salamoncino invested capital in the Banco dei Finzi at Rovigo (cfr. E. Traniello, Gli ebrei e le piccole città. Economia e società nel Polesine del Quattrocento , Rovigo, 2004, pp. 116-117).
42. Cfr. Jacoby, New Evidence on Jewish Bankers in Venice, cit., pp. 156-157; Carpi, L'individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 58. On 11 February 1495, a legal dispute was recorded between the municipality of Piove di Sacco and "Salamoncinus, hebreus phoenerans in hoc loc Plebiscacci". The document summarizes the clauses of the items for the loan, granted in a timely fashion by the community to Salamoncino, including that of being able to accept any type of pledge as security for loans, with the exception of objects of worship of the Christian religion ("[...] per formam capitulorum concessum est ipsi Salamoncino libere praestari super quocumque pignore indifferenter, exceptis crucibus et calcibus, sive rebus ecclesiasticus sacratis, tamquam phoenerator publicus"). Cfr. P. Plinton, Codice Diplomatico Saccense, Rome, 1894, no. 552.
43. Marin Sanudo, I diarii, by R. Fulin et al., Venice, 1879-1903, II, column 42 (22 May 1499), III, column 803 (1500).
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CHAPTER THREE 

ASHER, THE BEARDED JEW (1475)

Master Tobias da Magdeburg, the physician from Trent, who reached Venice in February 1469 during Friedrich III’s visit, had other information to be supplied to the judges investigating the death of little Simon. His news was disturbing, linking the German Jews, reaching Venice in the Emperor’s train, with the personage of the Candian merchant, David Mavrogonato, and his mysterious dealings.
It seems that Mavrogonato, for the occasion of the imperial visit, had brought with him, perhaps from Cyprus, a large consignment of sugar and blood to be peddled on the Venetian piazza. These were expensive ingredients, indispensable to the preparation of medications and unguents considered of certain effectiveness and of great advantage by the pharmacopoeia of the time, and it is not to be marveled at that the shrewd merchant from Candia intended to offer them for sale at Venice, where all the Jewish physicians, surgeons, herb alchemists, and specialists, both Christians and Jews, had agreed to meet on that occasion, attracted by the prospect of a flattering and profitable imperial recognition. But, according to Maestro Tobias, those German Jews who turned to Mavrogonato in great numbers -- known by them as the "Jew with the sugar" -- to acquire the precious goods he had for sale, were, in fact, seeking to purchase Christian blood, and, in particular, the blood of Christian children, for use, not only in the preparation of costly and miraculous medications, but in obscure magical and religious rites as well (1). David Mavrogonato had no intention of dirtying his hands directly in negotiations of this kind, but used, as a go-between, an unscrupulous local charlatan, a certain Hossar (or Osser, which rendered in the Ashkenazi pronunciation the name Asher, corresponding to the Italian Anselmo). This Jew, from Cologne, was known all over Venice as "the Jew with the beard" (2).
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The name of this Hossar, dedicated to shady dealings between Venice and the cities of the mainland and linked twofold to Mavrogonato, appears in the depositions of another important personality in the Trent trials. Israel, son of Mayer (Meir) of Brandenburg in Saxony, was a young man twenty three years old, itinerant artist by profession, earned his money as a miniaturist, and, in the case in question, a binder of manuscripts and Hebraic and Latin codes. He, too, was arrested in 1475 in Trent under the accusation of complicity in the killing of little Simon. He was to prove a bold and shrewd double-dealer, agreeing in appearance to convert to Christianity and assume the new name of Wolfgang, not just to save himself from a certain and cruel condemnation to death, but above all, camouflaged by conversion, to assist the Jewish women accused and arrested for the crime, obtaining their release or facilitating their escape (3). Once discovered and unmasked, he was publicly executed in January of 1476. His body, broken on the wheel, was to be left at the place of execution, a spectacle for public mockery and a feast for animals.
Israel Wolfgang had informed the judges at Trent that he had been Salamone da Piove di Sacco’s guest in the spring of 1471, for the Passover dinner, with the participation of the banker’s sons, David Mavrogonato’s business associates, and their respective families. The patron of the house was said to have made use of dried and pulverized blood for ritual purposes, as was the custom among German Jews, dissolving it in the wine and kneading into the unleavened bread. Under these circumstances, Salomon's son, Salamoncino, in the presence of the brother Marcuccio, is said to have informed young Israel that the blood, probably extracted from the veins of a Christian child, had been supplied "by a Jewish merchant, who had brought it from overseas, perhaps from the island of Cyprus", alluding, by means of this periphrasis [circumlocution], to Mavrogonato (4). What is more, Salamoncino confirmed that the go-between in those sales was, as usual, Hossar, or Asher, whose business it was to sell blood from Venice to the other centers of the Republic in which there were active Jewish communities.
The famous money lender Salomone di Lazzaro "from Germany", active at Crema and Cremona, was also an assiduous client of this itinerant wanderer (5).
Wolfgang knew Hossar personally, and visited Hossar in prison near the Ponte di Paglia in Venice, where he was detained for attempting to sell "alchemical silver", i.e., counterfeit money. The reasons for this strange visit are not
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clear, nor did Wolfgang bother to explain. Perhaps it would not be too far from the truth to think that he intended to supply himself with powdered gold and silver at advantageous prices from the capable and expert dealer which Hossar was reputed to be, for use in miniatures of any codes which he might be commissioned to paint by rich and influential persons. This might explain the presence of the enterprising artist at Piove di Sacco, in Salamone’s house, whose table would otherwise be inaccessible to a young man of low rank and without resources, like him.
Wolfgang had furthermore come into contact with Hossar before, and knew that that alchemist of dubious reputation lived near the Rialto, in the direction of Mestre, and might be about forty years old, dressed in black and wearing a beard of the same color. At Venice, Hossar was known by boys as "the Jew with the beard". Hossar had a brother, some years older than he, called Big Salamoncino, due to his stature, and perhaps to distinguish him from Salamoncino da Piove, whose presence in the heart of the Jewish community of Venice and at the official ceremonies in the synagogue must have been frequent. According to Wolfgang, who made his depositions before the judges of Trent in November 1475, Hossar-Anselmo, "the Jew with the beard", had died about six months before, perhaps in prison (6).
The information supplied by Israel Wolfgang of Brandenburg in his testimony is exactly, and very many ways, surprisingly, confirmed by the archive documents. Hossar-Asher "with the beard" (Anselmus judeus a barba) was in fact tried at Venice on 3 September 1473 on an accusation of selling two bars of false gold, i.e., silver covered with a foil of gold powder, to an artisan in that city, after having extorted a fraudulent official registration from the essayer of Rialto, responsible for the stamping and weighing of gold (7). Hossar "with the beard" was sentenced to six months in prison and stricken from the registry of bulk gold and silver dealers at Venice (8). He was also said to have been compelled to compensate the victim of the swindle for the economic harm done, before serving his term of imprisonment.
Strangely, the clauses of the sentence hint at the eventuality of an escape from prison by the Cologne-born Jewish alchemist, or his death in prison (9). In effect, as reported by Israel Wolfgang to the judges at Trent, Hossar died in the first few months of 1475, and may be that he was still in prison. It is therefore surprising that the Venetian judges should provide in advance for such eventuality, almost as if they knew for a fact that David Mavrogonato’s unscrupulous ex-right arm
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man -- dedicated to mysterious illegal dealings at Venice, where he was known by all, both Jews and Christians -- had powerful friends in the mainland financial centers capable of helping him break jail or of silencing him for good, to prevent him from revealing his embarrassing secrets. Salamoncino da Piove, who was perfectly well aware of the German alchemist's activities, may have known him personally during his stays in Venetian prisons, "near the Ponte di Paglia", of which he was an influential and assiduous inmate.
Just what the artful German herb alchemist [Hossar] was selling on all those frequent trips which took him to the cities of the Veneto region, apart from medicinal blood and quack remedies of miraculous effectiveness and bright and treacherous “silver of alchemy” -- in the manufacture of which he was considered a specialist -- remains unknown. It is, however, certain that, the merchandise to be found in Hossar’s haversack -- according to Salamoncino da Piove – included one particular item, purchased from an itinerant merchant named Abramo, stopping by Trent in 1471 on his way from Saxony to Feltre or Bassano, and that this particular item was considered particularly valuable. According to Wolfgang’s later statements before the Trent judges, Abramo’s clients included the physician, Tobias da Magdeburg.
Abramo’s red leather pouch, with its waxed bottom, in fact, concealed a certain amount of blood, to be put up for sale -– clotted blood -- coagulated and reduced to curdles or powder, as was normal practice, to cause it to harden over time (10).
According to Maestro Tobias da Magdeburg, many of the Jewish and German merchants who reached Venice in 1469 along with Friedrich III’s baggage train intended to supply themselves with the blood of Christian children for the Passover rite -- blood which Mavrogonato was said to have brought from Candia or Cyprus on that occasion. It does not appear that the Jews of that island had ever been accused of ritual murder at that time. Yet, Jewish Passovers at Candia in the mid-15th century were anything but tranquil affairs, and were often the source of scandal and clamorous indignation.
During Passover week, 1451, the Jews of the ghetto of Candia were accused of crucifying suckling lambs (perhaps due to the impossibility of procuring Christian children) [NOTE: This is not necessarily Prof. Toaff’s opinion here; he is summarizing the Latin: fortasse quia fideles pueros captare nequiverat ], in contempt of the Christian religion, with a grotesque and sacrilegious anti-ritual (11). The symbolism of the suckling lamb placed on the cross seemed obviously linked, in an intolerable and obscenely blasphemous manner, to the passion of Christ, the Agnus Dei [Lamb of God]. The accusation
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does not appear to have been completely groundless, in view of the ancient Hebraic custom of roasting the Passover lamb skewered on the spit in a vertical position, with the head upwards, to ridicule and deride the crucified Christ; just how widespread this custom was, is difficult to determine from either a chronological or geographical point of view (12).
The Venetian criminal judiciary was immediately informed of the affair by the Duke of Candia, Bernardo Balbi, while the Doge, Francesco Foscari, hastened to appoint Gradenigo, "district mayor in the Levant", who was already on the island, with responsibility for investigating the matter ("to obtain the truth about the crucified lambs in any manner whatever"), identifying the guilty parties, and punishing them with the maximum strictness. Edicts were posted “in the Piazza and in the Giudaica di Candia", promising cash rewards for anyone supplying the inquisitor with information useful to the investigation and threatening severe punishment to "any persons with knowledge of the above mentioned case of the crucified lambs and conceals the same".
The well-known Venetian politician and humanist, Lodovico Foscarini, already podestà [magistrate] of Feltre in 1439, of Vicenza in 1445 and at the time, podestà of Verona, also occupied himself with the thorny mater. In a letter, presumably written between 1451 and the following year, and addressed to Antonio Gradenigo, Foscarini praised the Venetian inquisitor [Gradenigo] warmly for bringing his investigation into the "sacrilegious sacrifice" to a close, zealously and with undoubted success, and for his success in demonstrating the guilt of the Jews of Candia in the crucifixion of the lambs to a certainty (13).
The outcome of the matter came to our attention through a Jewish source which has until now been isinterpreted on this point: the chronicle of Elia Capsali. The Candian rabbi, based on a report on the events written in Hebrew, reported that the investigation into the crucifixion of the lambs was concluded on 26 January 1452, when the Council of the Forty informed Bernardo Balbi, the Duke of Candia, that, as a result of inquisitor Gradenigo’s denunciation, nine notables of the Jewish community had been placed in shackles for their participation in the crime.
After a brief period of detention in the prisons of Candia, the prisoners were transferred in chains to Venice, where they were interrogated in expectation of the trial before the Avogaria di Commun. Two of the prisoners died as a result of torture, while the survivor remained in custody awaiting the decisions of the Major Council, which met on 15 July 1452, on Saturday. To everyone's
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great surprise, the Jewish defendants were absolved, notwithstanding Gradenigo’s indignant protests, with 220 votes in favor, 130 against and 80 "not convinced", i.e., abstaining; on 9 August following, the defendants were released and left Venice. They finally landed in Candia after a 13-day voyage and were joyfully and triumphantly received by the entire Jewish community on the island (14).
[The report reads in part:]
"In 1423, Francesco Foscarini was elected Doge of Venice [...] Under his government, almost at the end of his term, in 1451, the Jews of the community of Candia were falsely accused of the so-called 'calumny of the lamb', (15) by a nun named Orsa. The matter took an ugly turn when Antonio Gradenigo, the inquisitor, visited Venice at the Avogaria di Commun to cause the Jews to be tried, setting forth the particulars of the accusations made against them. On 26 January, Bernardo Balbi, the Duke of Candia, received an order from Venice to arrest nine notables of the Jewish community, after which they were held in prison for thirty five days. The Duke then ordered their transfer to Venice in a ship captained by Giacomo Aponal di Candia, which docked after a 49-day voyage, during which the prisoners remained in chains, suffering terribly. At Venice, the defendants were thrown in a dark, unwholesome prison, separated from each other, and subjected to cruel and insupportable tortures and torments, which caused the miserable death of two of them "in the sanctification of the name of God", but they confessed nothing. As a result, the case was presented to the judge of the Great Council [...] and the Jews were therefore absolved, thanks to the Lord’s assistance and His mercy towards them. This happened on Saturday [...] on 15 July 1452 [...] and on 9 August following, these same Jews left Venice, and reached here [Candia] thirteen days later, expressing their praise and gratitude to God the Blessed."
But the matter was anything but over. The implacable Antonio Gradenigo appealed against the sentence of absolution before the Avogaria di Commun. According to him, the Jews of Candia had bribed some of the magistrates, purchasing their favorable votes with money. Once again, Capsali reported that the allegation had been examined by the Avogaria di Commun in March 1453. The subsequent investigation led to the arrest of one of the counselors, Girolamo Lambardo, on a charge of corruption and Lambardo’s subsequent condemnation to one year in prison; he was also struck off the role of the Members of the Great Council for five years. The fate of the Jews of Candia were again in the hands of the "Great Council", which met on 16 May 1454 without reaching a decision. The
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meeting was adjourned on 7 June following, when the charges were finally dropped after innumerable rounds of voting, on 13 July (16).
"On a Saturday in the month of Tamuz of the year 5214 [=1454] in the afternoon [...] our Messer Antonio Giustinian’s galley docked here in the port of Candia, bringing us the happy news of our acquittal. May He be Blessed who rewarded us with all well-being, rendering vain the machinations brought against us. The Lord has saved, not only our fathers, but ourselves as well, our children and descendents. In fact, salvation has not only been granted to the Jewish community of Venice, because the Lord has thus liberated our community of the Jews of Candia and the other communities under the dominion of the Serenissima, and under the government of the gentiles generally, from terrible danger [...] This sort of persecution is the work of the perfidious Haman, seeking to exterminate women and children, old persons and notables and sack our property in one single day (Esther 3:13) (17)."
Capsali’s report, richly detailed, finds precise confirmation in the official Venetian documentation, supplementing and clarifying the picture (18) . As early as September 1451, several months prior to conclusion of district mayor Antonio Gradenigo’s inquiry into the crucifixion of the lambs at Crete during the Passover period of that year, Gradenigro appealed to the Greater Counsel that the defendants be transferred to another, more pliable, level of the legal system, such as the Quarantia Criminal [Council of Forty Judges] to ensure a more expeditious conclusion of the matter (19). Gradenigo’s appeal upon acquittal of the Jews in the court of first instance was preceded by a decision of the Greater Counsel to the effect that, in the interests of expediting the case, the presence of three hundred magistrates should in this case suffice instead of the four hundred judges provided for by law (20).
What is certain is that, at the end of June 1452, twelve Jews from Candia were being held in a cell of the "New Prison" of Venice. Capsali reports that nine (and not twelve) Jewish notables were arrested in Candia; the idea that Candia was simply mistaken seems implausible.
Perhaps the other three Jews from Candia were arrested for other crimes, unrelated to the foul charge of the “crucified lambs" It would not even surprise us to learn that David Mavrogonato, whose adventures as an "intriguer" with limited scruples did not always end happily, was one of them. These Jews at Candia were lodged in the same cell with a Christian,
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probably in jail for another crime, a certain Antonio da Spilimbergo. Spilimbergo was rather unhappy about being the only believer in Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary in the forced company of these vociferous and arrogant Jews, who were as loud-mouthed as they were uncouth, and who did nothing but mutter their incomprehensible prayers and chant from morning to night, in Hebrew, with an unpleasant Ashkenazi inflection. Their actions, which the poor Antonio, out of ardent Christian zeal, presumed were highly heretical, as well as their strange and repellent garb, drove him practically mad. He therefore file an urgent appeal with the commanding authorities for transfer to the "Carcere Novissima" [new prison], a petition which the authorities immediately granted, in a full understanding of Spilimbergo’s plight (21).
The text of the defendants’ final acquittal, on 7 June 1454, contains important details relating to the case as a whole. The principal defendants turned out to be the physician, Abba di Mosè del Medigo di Candia, who, according to the denunciation of a converted Jew, " crucified a lamb in mockery of Jesus Christ, at night, in his own room, together with other Jews, on the very holy day of Holy Friday (of the year 1451)". Gradenigo's inquiry shows that the Jews of Candia repeated this contemptuous ritual every year, in the days preceding Christian Easter (22).
Abba del Medigo and the other defendants’ attempts to bribe the judges were not in vain, as attested to by the relevant documents. As we have seen from Elia Capsali’s report in March of 1453, one of the members of the Greater Counsel, the nobleman Girolamo Lambardo, was arrested and sentenced for selling his vote to the Jews. The minutes of the Greater Counsel confirm that an inquiry against Lambardo had in fact been brought and had concluded with the condemnation of the noble counselor for improperly attempting to extort money from Abba (23) .
As early as February 1452, the ineffable Candian physician [Abba del Medigo], already under indictment for vilification of the Christian religion, was further accused of attempting to bribe one of the "district mayors in the Levant", Antonio Priuli, one of Gradenigo’s a colleagues, perhaps correctly considered more pliable than the implacable inquisitor of the crucified lambs.
But in fact, in a certain sense, Abba, rather than the author of the design to bribe judges and other high-placed persons involved in the trial, had himself been the naïve victim of a clever swindle. Bonomo di Mosè, a Jewish money lender active at Mestre, owner of the
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bank of San Nicolà at Padua (24), was, out of piety or self-interest, accustomed to visiting Abba frequently in the New Prisons where the latter was incarcerated. During one of these visits, Bonomo, who bragged of high-placed friendships in wealthy Venice, is said to have confessed to the impatient and depressed Candiota [Abba del Medigo] that one of the "district mayors in the Levant", Priuli to be exact, would gladly sell his vote in exchange for a loan of fifty thousand ducats without interest.
Having scraped up the sum, the good Abba promptly delivered it to Bonomo, who misappropriated it, obviously without turning it over to Priuli, who was completely ignorant of the whole scheme. But the whole scheme finally came unraveled and the swindle was discovered.
The money lender from Mestre, responsible for the swindle, was sentenced by the Avogadori to the payment of a fine of one hundred gold ducats and one year in prison, after which he would be banned from Venice and its territory for five years (25). Abba del Medigo, for his part, was tried for trying to bribe a public official, but was ordered acquitted (26).
The island physician was less fortunate, however, at the end of October of the same year, when his Christian fellow prisoners accused him of serious offenses and blasphemies against the Christian religion. According to the denunciation, Abba, in his cell, was alleged to have unhesitatingly placed his filthy piss-pot right below the crucifix. Soundly rebuked by the other prisoners, the intemperate Candiota was said to have replied with profanity, insulting them and shamelessly ridiculing Jesus the Messiah and the blessed Holy Virgin. His condemnation was inevitable and well-deserved: one year’s additional prison time, in addition to the payment of a fine of one thousand lire to the Avogadori di Commun (27).
But who was this Abba del Medigo – the protagonist, despite himself, in the affair of the crucified lambs? He certainly came from one of the most illustrious Jewish families in Candia, being the son of Mosè "the Old Man", rabbi and head of the community, and related to the famous philosopher Elia del Medigo, a physician like himself. He had married Ritte, otherwise known as Rivkah, with whom he had had three children, Elia, Diamante and Yehudah, called Giuliano in Italian and known as Yudlin among the Ashkenazim of the Veneto community.
The latter had married Sofia, called Shifra in Hebrew, the aunt of the chronicler Elia Capsali. The family lived at Padua, but after the death of Abba, which occurred rather early in 1485, he moved mostly to Soave, where Elia and Yudlin del Medigo had obtained a money lending permit, which was renewed in 1496 (28).
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Elia Capsali remembered that he had stayed with his aunt Sofia at Padua in the winter of 1508, on his way from Venice, and that he had heard her say "that my relatives (del Medigo) were no longer at Padua, because they had moved to Soave" (29). We know that Elia, Abba’s first-born, was murdered in Venice under mysterious circumstances in 1505. Implicated in the murder, one as the instigator and the other as an accomplice, were two Jews, from Soncino and Feltre, the latter a resident of Monselice, who were condemned by the Avogadori di Commun to prison, the confiscation of their property and expulsion from the territories of Venice, Padua and the surrounding district (30). It is probable that Capsali stumbled across a copy of the trial documents relating to the crucifixion of the lambs on the island of Candia, in Padua, among Yudlin's letters, who had died many years before, stating the grounds for the acquittal, and that he used it among his sources.
Out of prudence, or perhaps simply desiring to respect the privacy of the Medigo-Capsali family, although half a century had already passed since these events, Elia preferred to omit any mention of the names of the defendants in the trial for the crucified lambs -- mainly, any mention of Abba del Medigo, father-in-law of his aunt, Sofia, as well as of the assassination of the son of the latter two, Elia, committed at Venice by other Jews only a few years earlier.
Lodovico Foscarini was a friend of Gradenigo, the inquisitor for the crucifixion of the Passover lambs, but he was no friend of the Jews, least of all to Jewish physicians, whom he hated, feared and suspected, and against whom he considered himself engaged in incessant warfare (perpertuum bellum) (31).
Foscarini, the patrician of the Veneto region, recalled the manner in which the Jews, in their Passover ceremonies, solemnly swore on the Torah scrolls to cause serious injury and harm to those faithful in Christ and placed the Christians on guard against eating unleavened bread prepared by Jews. He was also convinced that Jewish physicians were the servants of the Devil and were dedicated to the magical arts and to necromancy, poisoning their Christian patients in body and spirit. In a letter written in the summer of 1462, Foscarini considered it unacceptable that many governors, particularly, those from Venice, tolerated the cheeky and arrogant presence of Jewish physicians and surgeons, and thus facilitated their presence, and maintaining that presence for reasons of dubious honesty (32). Foscarini, then Lieutenant of Friulia, had a short time before suffered two years imprisonment, lamenting that, during this period, the Serenissima, profiting from his absence, had signed official agreements with Jewish physicians (33).
One scandalous example of blasphemous shamelessness, according to Foscarini, was a “gowned physician”, garnished in gold and adorned with
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jewels, who had had the boldness to turn to certain noblewomen in mourning, maliciously deriding their religious belief, and in particular, the sacrament of the Host. "I pity you, ladies, for your ignorance", the learned Jewish surgeon is alleged to have said on that occasion, in a tone of open mockery, "in believing that your God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, would offer Himself to be consumed, and thus does not therefore disdain to offer himself up as food to the jaws of obscene ruffians and the filthiest of whores" (34). In view of the fact that the most famous "gowned Jewish physician” living in Venice in Foscarini’s time was Jehudah messer Leon da Montecchio, who is said to have been granted the honor of the imperial doctoral privilege by Friedrich III during the latter’s stay in Venice in February 1469, and that his quarrelsome nature, accompanied by frequent and intemperate verbal outbursts against both Jews and Christians, his true or presumed adversaries, was common knowledge, identifying the “gowned physician” does not seem very hard to do.
In confirmation of this, reference may perhaps be made to a news item from a Jewish chronicle, archived until a few years ago in manuscript form, and perhaps compiled at Venice by an Ashkenazi Jew around the middle of the Sixteenth century, which seems to be a compilation of local traditions of indubitable antiquity (35). The presumable chronology of the events to which reference is made dates back beyond the middle of the 15th Century. In Venice, the Jews were prohibited from circumcising their sons in the city (36). The Jews therefore had to go to nearby Mestre to perform this rite, which was fundamental to their family life. It then that a Jew, "among the most illustrious among those living in Venice", wishing to circumcise his new-born son in the city of the lagoons, thought up an astute expedient which night lead to revocation of the discriminatory law. He turned to an influential Venetian patrician with whom he stood on terms of familiarity and friendship, a gentleman who was, in those days, confined to bed with gout, and requested the gentleman to act as godfather at his sons’ circumcision ceremony. The Christian nobleman was not only pleased to accept the honorific charge which the honored Jew had thought fit to entrust him with, but, being unable to reach Mestre due to his illness, which kept confined at home, he seems to have decided to cause the child to be circumcised in the main room of his own palace. This was the first case, the precedent-setter, thereafter permitting the Jews of Venice to circumcise their sons in the City of the Lagoons. If the report, as stated, contains a core of truth, it should not be very difficult, in this case as well, to identify
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the Jewish notable as Jehudah messer Leon, the influential imperial physician esteemed by Jews and Christians alike, particularly among the higher classes, to whom a son, David was born in Venice, in approximately 1459 (37).
The Jewish community at Trent had formed relatively recently, and its numbers were always limited. When Maestro Tobias da Magdeburg, physician, surgeon and expert in ophthalmology, decided to establish himself at Trent in 1462, he found that there was no organized Jewish community in the city. In the early years of the century, in 1403, bishop Ulrich III had granted a Jewish money lender named Isacco and his family the right to carry on the money trade at Bolzano and Trent. This may have been the same Isacco whose presence in the city is attested to later, in 1440 (38). It is nevertheless certain that other Jews came to join him in the first quarter of the century, staying at Trent for longer or shorter periods, such as the same Mosè di Samuele from Trent who, in the summer of 1423, made his last will and testament at Treviso, where had had in the meantime moved with his numerous family (39). The Jewish community of Trent seemed consolidated by mid-century.
In fact, in 1450, Sigismondo, Count of Tyrol, decided to grant Elia and the other Jewish residents of Trent equality of rights with those of the Christian citizens of Trent (40).
Nevertheless, when Maestro Tobias took up residence in the city, he found only one Jewish family, that of the money lender Samuele (Zanwil) di Seligman, originating from Nuremberg in Bavaria, who had settled in Trent one year before. The privileges accorded to Samuele in the money-lending permit signed upon his entry into the city were renewed by Giovanni Hinderbach in 1469, the year in which Friedrich III officially invested him with the temporal office of the episcopate of Trent, at Venice, in 1469 (41). In the meantime, a third family had come to reinforce the Jewish community of Trent. Angelo da Verona, from Gavardo in the Bresciano region, who had passed his youth at Conegliano in Friuli (42), also moved to Trent, dealing alongside Samuele of Nuremberg in the local money market (43). Although he had lived in Italy from birth, Angelo, too, was an Ashkenazi Jew; perhaps he no longer spoke Yiddish as his native language, in contrast to Tobias and Samuele, who had arrived from the German territories only recently, but he certainly understood it and spoke it, although rather badly.

Angelo's parents, in fact, Salamone and Brünnlein (Brunetta), were natives of Bern in the Swiss
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Confederation. The three Jewish families of Trent were anything other than restrained and presented themselves in a manner rather definite as multiple patriarchal nuclei. The married children lived together with the parents, and several generations lived their everyday lives under the same roof: grandfather and grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins, married women, widows and unmarried girls, servants, scullery maids and teachers, travelers and persons of passage, more or less established and occasional guests, professional beggars and impoverished relatives.
The Jews, whose habitations were contiguous, lived near the commercial center, known as "the Canton", in the western zone of the city, which included the quarters of the Market and San Martino. Their lending banks, which formed one whole with their houses, operated in contact with the shops and taverns of the German immigrants, whose presence in Trent was rather large, amounting to several hundred people (44). German was spoken along the small canal, which crossed the district carried turbid and muddy water, originating in the Adige.
Alongside the evil-smelling workshops of the Germanic shoemakers and tanners were the banks and dwelling houses of the Jews. One of these, that of Samuele da Nuremberg, was the location of the synagogue.
In fact, Samuele’s family was beyond doubt the most religious, and the most highly cultivated in terms of Hebrew culture. The scrupulous observance of the standards of the Torah had induced the head of the family, in addition to setting aside certain areas as places of worship for the entire community, to draw from water the canal, which passed by the basement of the house, for use in a sort of ritual bath, where the women could easily immerse themselves for their own ablutions of purification after their menstrual period, without having to have recourse to the public baths, where feminine modesty and shame could not always be duly protected (45). Samuele himself, to great benefit, had studied in the famous Talmudic academies of Bamberg and Nuremberg in the years 1440-1450, and had been the disciple of famous rabbis.
The oldest and most respected among the German Jews of Trent, his uncle Mosè da Franconia, who had reached the respectable age of eighty and was known by everyone in the city as "the Old Man", also found lodings under his roof. Learned and authoritative, even if poorly equipped with purely economic means, he had found stable hospitality, with his family, with the enterprising and wealthy nephew, after having lived previously at Würzburg and Spira, one of the most important centers of Jewish culture in all of Germany. Samuele's household were strict followers of the rules
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relating to kosher food, which, among other things, prescribed the complete separation of meat and dairy products, according to the dictates of the Bible, amplified and codified in the rabbinical interpretation of the halakhah. To the judges in the Simon of Trent murder trial, interested in knowing why he carried two knives in a sheath hanging from his side, both Samuele and Mosè "the Old Man" patiently explained that which, in their eyes, was perfectly obvious. One knife was to cut edible meat, while the other was to be used for dairy products (46)
On 23 March, eve of Passover of 1475, year of the jubilee, the mutilated body of Simonino, a two-year old child, son of the tanner Andrea Lomferdorm, was found in the waters of the ravine by-passing Samuele’s cellar. This tragic discovery triggered the inquest which was to lead to the accusation brought against the Jews of Trent as suspects in the child’s abduction and murder, to their interrogation in the castle of Buonconsiglio and their condemnation, after confessing under torture to being responsible for this tragic wickedness. Finally, the condemned were publicly executed, burned at the stake or decapitated, while their property was to suffer bitter confiscation. The transcripts of the Trent trials for the murder of Simon, later beatified, are said, as a result, to constitute the most important and detailed document ever written on the ritual murder accusation, a precious document retaining the words of the Hebrew defendants, in which the words of the accusers and inquisitors did not always succeed in superimposing themselves over, or confusing themselves with, the words of the defendants.
These texts are a glimpse into a different world: the world of the Ashkenazi Judaism of the German territories and northern Italy, in all its sociological, historical and religious particularity. This was a Jewish world, enclosed upon itself, fearful and hostile towards outsiders, often incapable of accepting its own painful experiences and overcoming its own ideological contradictions. It was this world which, moving from the negative and often tragic reality in which they lived, sought an improbable anchorage in the sacred texts which might illuminate a hope of redemption, which for the moment appeared beyond credibility: a Hebraic world discharging its energies in religious rites and antique myths, now re-enlivened with renewed and different meanings and translated into an alienating, harsh and rigorous confessional language, in which internal tensions and unresolved frustrations lay hidden at all times. A world which, having survived the massacres and forced conversions of men, women and children, continued to experience
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those traumatic events in a sterile effort to reverse the meaning of that world, rebalancing it and correcting history. It was a profoundly religious world in which redemption could not possibly be far off; in which God was to be involved despite Himself, and compelled to keep His promises, sometimes by force. It was a world drenched with magical rites and exorcism, within whose mental horizons popular medicine and alchemy, occultism and necromancy were often mixed, finding a position of their own, influencing and reversing the meaning of ordinary religious standards.
The participants in this magical mental horizon included not only the Jews, accused of witchcraft and infanticide, ritual cannibalism and evil spells, but their accusers as well, obsessed with diabolical presences and the continual search for virtuous talismans and stupendous antidotes, capable of curing and preserving the body and soul from the wiles of men and demons. Giovanni Hinderbach, prince bishop of Trent, the true organizer of the 1475 trials, had grown up in Vienna in the years following the great massacre of the Jews, accused of backing the Hussites (1421) and exposed by that same Duke Albert II to bloody vengeance as partisans of the heretics (47). Even before poor Simonino’s child murder, when he had not yet risen to his official fame as "punisher of the Jewish murderers", Hinderbach had already found ways to show his lack of sympathy for them (48). In one case, thus, he had not hesitated to express his self-satisfied approval of cannibalism, when the victims were Jews. During the military confrontation between Venice and Trieste in 1465, during which Friedrich III intended to enforce his rights, Hinderbach, who was then acting as imperial ambassador before the government of the Serenissima, sang the praises of the Hapsburg militia, called upon to defend Trieste, for their courage and their demonstrated loyalty to the Emperor. By true right, observed the pious bishop, the German soldiers, in case of necessity, rather than lay down their arms, were to alleviate their hunger by eating the flesh of cats, rats and mice; and even that of local Jews, Jews resident in the city (49).
Friedrich III was, as Burcardo di Andwil informs us, in addition to mathematical sciences, a passionate cultivator of astrology and necromancy, and for this reason is said to have remarked that he liked to surround himself with Jews and Chaldeans, people highly partial to superstitious practices (50). But Friedrich’s faithful servant, Hinderbach, was no less so. Magic and witchcraft in fact exercised an irresistible fascination over
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the humanist bishop, who was a friend of Enea Silvio Piccolomini. Hinderbach assimilated Jews outright with necromanticists, always ready to perform exorcisms and curses in the service of the devil. Demons love blood; and the necromancers who resuscitated cadavers used blood with little parsimony in their divination, mixing it with water taken from fountains and rivers. Hinderbach had no hesitation in maintaining that the Jews were enchanters and necromancers, "because they kill Christian children and drink and consume their blood, as they did last year at Trent, and in many other places it has been discovered and proven" (51). The practical Caballah, which these Jews followed more or less in secret, was to be assimilated in all respects to black magic and necromancy. It is to be noted that, during the first festival of the sainted child, held at Trent in 1589 with a great confluence of people, a celebrative pamphlet, later published in Rome, was compiled with the title of Ristretto della vita et martirio di S. Simone fanciluuo della citta di Trento . This work maintained, in the wake of Hinderbach, that the child had been killed by the Jews, "followers of the Caballah, vain science under which name magic and necromancy often hide" (52).
From the records of the trial, we know that Brunetto (Brünnlein), widow of Samuele da Nuremberg, who was, in the end, burnt at the stake as guilty of infanticide, persisted in her refusal to confess, notwithstanding the torments to which he was subjected. To Hinderbach, there appeared to be no doubt that the woman was ill and bewitched by Jewish necromancers. For this reason, every suggestive pressure, exercised on the woman to persuade her to speak, had proven useless; from shaving her head and removing her body hair, to ablutions in holy water.
But the remedy was finally found. The holy cure-all, according to the bishop of Trent, constantly in search of miraculous enchantments and narcotic unguents, had proven itself exceptionally effective in the precedent Santa Lucia case, in which the victim was also possessed by demons. Brünetta was placed in a bath of urine, laboriously produced by a "virgin young boy" of Trent, and suddenly, after the extraordinary, if rather evil-smelling ablution, the woman, without further ado, began to sign her confession (53).
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NOTES TO CHAPTER THREE
1. "Et inter ipsos Iudeos fuit dictum [...] quod in civitate Venetarium tunc erat quidam magnus mercator Iudeus de insula Candie, qui portavit magnum quantitatem sanguinis pueri Christiani ad vendendum, et etiam portaverat magnam quantitatem zuccari. Et quod dici audivit a quodam Ioseph Forles, qui venerat post Serenissimum Imperatorem Venetias, quod volevat emere de sanquine a dicto mercatore Hebreo. Et similiter dici audivit a quibusdam aliis, de quidibus non recordatur, quod volebant emere de dicto sanguine, licet ipse non emerit. Dicit tamen quod, crede suo, omnes alii Iudei, qui ibi aderant, emerunt de dicto sanguine" (cfr. A. Esposito and D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di
Trento ,1475-1478: I: I processi del 1475, Padua, 1990, pp. 328-329). The fact that the blood put up for sale, together with the sugar, by Mavrogonato was of "pueri Cristiani" [Christian boys] appears to be an allusion by Tobias da Magdeburg or German Jews having moved to Venice in the retinue of Friedrich III, with whom he had spoken. There is nothing to cause us to believe, however, that the information supplied by Tobias should, on the whole, be considered "exotic details" (cfr. R. Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475. A Ritual Murder Trial, New Haven, Conn., 1992, p. 46), just as the description of the Jew from Candia as a "great merchant in the imperial entourage, who sold sugar and blood" (ibidem). On the sugar manufacturies transplanted from Venice to Crete starting at the beginning of the XIV century and on the curative uses of sugar, particularly widespread in the Jewish medieval medical treatises, see, in particular, S.W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power. The Place of Sugar in Modern History , Baltimore (Md.), 1985.
2. "Et cum eo (qui vocabatur 'el Judeo dal çuccaro') conversabatur Hossar Iudesu, qui habitat Venetiis et vocatur "el Zudio de la barba", qui est de Colonia et ab omnibus cognoscitur" (cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., vol. I, p. 329).
3. The figure of Israel Wolfgang of Brandenburg is interpreted differently by Po-Chia Hsia (Trent 1475, cit., pp. 91-104: "Oscillating between the different roles demanded of him, Israel was alternatively the wandering Jew, the Christian convert, informant of the apostolic commissioner, and the cooperative prisoner”. In my view, a less superficial reading of his depositions permits an understanding of the consistency among the apparent contradictions in his behavior.
4. "Salamon parvus [= Salamoncinus] dixit sibi Wolfgango quadam die in Plebe Sacchi, in Curia Domus praedicti Salomonis (Martuii), quod Salomon, pater ipsius Salamon parvi, habuerunt dictum sanguinem a quodam Judeo, qui illum detulerat de ultra Mari et, ut credit, de insula Cypri" (cfr. [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertanzione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trento nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso , Trento, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, p. 64). The blood referred to was dried and reduced to powder, and it is therefore difficult to believe that it could have been confused with wine, and, in particular, with the Malvasia wine from Candia, in which Mavrogonato seems to have dealt on a large scale. For the hypothesis of the Malvasia wine of Candia exchanged for blood, see D. Nissim, Il legame tra i processi di Trento contro gli ebrei e la tipografia ebraica di Piove di Sacco del 1475 , in "Annali dell'Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico in Trento", XXV (1999), pp. 672-673, promptly follwed by D. Carpi, who presents it as obvious (L’individuo e la collettività. Saggi di storia degli ebri a Padova e nel Veneto nell'eta del Rinascimento , Firenze, 2002, pp. 29, 43).
5. On Salamone di Lazzaro "de Alemannia" and his money lending activity, cfr. C. Bonetti, Gli ebrei a Cremona, Cremona, Cremona, 1917, p. 9; G.A. Mantovani, La communità ebraica di Crema nel secolo XV e le origini del Monte di Pietà, in "Nuova Rivista Storica", LIX (1975), p. 378; Sh. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, Jerusalem, 1982, vol. I, pp. 36-37, 220-221, 246-247 (nos. 48, 464, 524).
6. Wolfgang's deposition on Hossar-Anselmo "de la barba" is summarized by G. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, Trent, 1902, vol. II, pp. 18-19.
7. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (II), cc. 44v-45r (cc. 149v-150r, according to the modern numbering in pencil at the bottom of the page (3 September 1473). "Anselmus, iudeus a Barba, contra quem processum fuit et est per antescriptos dominos advocatores in Consilio Xlta, pro eo quod, ad finem defraudandi mercationis et maiorus sui lucri, ausus est in fundo denariorum fundellorum, ubi sollitum est accipi sagium argenti, fundidit aliquantum limare aurri, ita quod videbatur argentum ipsum tenere aurum [...] Sicque cum ipsis fundelis accessit ad sagiatorum folee auri in Rialto, qui sagium fect et fecti bulletinum ipsi iudeo, prout solitum est fieri, quem postea argentum dictus Anselmus vendidit Joanne Antonio partitori, in eiusdem danno et deceptione". Further along in the same document it states that that the judges had decided to proceed "contra Anselmum iudeum pro istis duobus fundellis argenti fundatis, demonstrantibus tenere aurium et non tenentibus, nisi in locis in quibus solit acceperi sagium per sagiatorem comunis, vinditis Joanni Antonio partitori in euidsem deceptionem et damnum maximum". The victim of the swindle appears with the qualification partitor, i.e., a refiner of precious metals, assigned to the separation of of gold from silver. It should be noted that at Venice, metal assaying was executed by approved assayers in the Zecca. In the Fifteen Century, four officials, two for gold and two for silver, were assigned to their registration and weighing, and an additional three assayers, who were entitled to operate in Zecca, in the "statione comune" at Rialto (the location selected by Hossar for his fraud), or in their own shop. In this regard, see F.C. Lane and R.C. Mueller, Money and Banking in Medieval and Renassance Venice. Coins and Moneys of Account, Baltimore (Md), 1985, index, s.v. Assay office and Gold, assaying of; A. Stahl, The Mint of Venice in the Middle Ages, Baltimore (Md), 2000, index, s.v. Assay and Gold Estimator.
8. "Quod iste Anselmus menses sex in carceribus et perpetuo perivetur possendi exercendi mercaturam auri et argenti grezorum Venetiis".
9. "[...] quod non incipiat tempus carceriorum, nisi prius cum integritate satisfacerit et restituerit denarios suos Joanni Antonio partitori descripto. Verum si casus mortis ipsius Anselmi occurreret, atu quod de carceribus aufguerit, et tot bona ipsius Anselmi non invenientur, tunc argentum predictum, ad manus Advocatorum perventum, obligatum sit integre satisfactioni infrascipti Joanni Antonio".
10. Cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., vol. I, pp. 327-328. "Dictus Abraham habebat dictum sanguinem in quodam coramine rubeo et erat coagulatus et in frusticulis et erat in totum ad quantitatem unius ovus." Maestro Tobias had bought some of it "quantum est una nucella pro uno rainense". The fact (at any rate already known to anyone possessing a certain familiarity with this type of trade, which was more widespread than one might imagine among both Jews and Christians, in the cities and above all the countryside, where it constituted an indispensable ingredient for the preparation of prodigious medications) emerges from the depositions of the other defendants in the Trent trial that the blood was placed on sale in the form of powder, coagulated or converted into lumps, ("portabat illum sanguinem ad vendendum, et illum tenebat in sinode seu çendado rubeo, et erat ille sanguis coagulatus et pulverizatus"; "et dicit quod sanguis, quem dictus Ursus portabat ad vendendum erat in uno vase [...] quod vas erat instagnatum a parte interiori, in quo vase erat sanguis pulverizatus, et erat tantum de sanguine in dicto vase quantum esset quarta pars unius amphiale val mosse, et dictus vas erat coopertum de quodam coramine albo".
11. The information is found in Flaminio Cornaro, Creta sacra sive de epis de episcopis utriusque ritus graeci et latini in insula Cretae, Venice, 1755, vol. II, pp. 382-383 ("Non satis quidem habuit perfida Judaeorum natio Creatiae degens Christianos iniquis adeo molestijs divexare, sed ut religioni etiam illuderent, teneros agnos [fortasse quia fideles pueros captare nequiverat] in Jesu-Christi- contumeliam cruci affixerunt, cujus facinoris nuntium cum Venetias delatum esset, Consilium XL virorum ad Criminalia, Cretensi regimini mandavit, ut omni studio in impios, qui adhuc ignoti erant, inquieret"). In this regard, see also H. Noret, Document inédits pour servir à l'histoire de la domination vénitienne en Crète de 1380 à 1485 , Paris, p. 425, no. 1. At any rate, the accusation relating to the passion of the lambs at Crete may only with difficulty be classified as an " accusation du meurtre rituel ", as it is perhaps interpreted by Jacoby (cfr. D. Jacoby, Les juifs à Venise du XIVe au milieu du XVI siècle , in H.-G. Beck, M. Manoussacas and A. Pertusi, Venezia centro di mediazione tra Oriente e Occidente, secoli XV-XVI . Aspetti e problemi, Florence, 1977, vol. II, p. 172).
12. On this custom and its anti-Christian significance, see Y. Tabori, Pesach dorot, Tel Aviv, 1996, pp. 92-105; I.J. Yuval, "Two Nations in Your Womb". Perceptions of Jews and Christians , Tel Aviv, 2000, p. 89 (in Hebrew). Again, at the beginning of the Seventeen Century, the Inquisition ordered the persecution of those Jews from the communities of the plains of the Po of northern Italy who still retained the wickedness to crucify Passover lambs. The Holy Office recorded that the Jews, although not subject to the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, could be tried by those tribunals in particularly serious cases. One of these was "se beffassero i Christiani, et per disprezzo della passione di Nostro Signore nella Settimana Santa, o in alto tempo crucifigessero agnello, pecora o altra cosa" [“if they ridiculed Christians, or showed contempt for the Passion of Our Lord during the Holy Week, or crucified lambs, sheep or anything else, at any time”] (Breve informazione del modo di trattare le cause del S. Officio per li molto Reverendi Vicarii della Santa Inquisitione , Modena, Giuliano Cassiani, 1608, p. 15).
13. "'Ex delictis quae tu studiossime contra hebraeorum pernitosissimam credelitatem inquisivisti', Foscarini wrote to Gradenigo, 'unum de sacrilega immolatione, ita universis patefacere decrevi, quod nemo posthac sic tam amens qui dubitet vel tam improbus qui neget nequissimos iudaeos agnos temporibus nostris passim crucifigere'". And further along, he invited him to persist in his uncompromising struggle "contra iudeos agnum crucifigentes" [“against the lamb-crucifying Jews”] (cfr g. Gardenal, Ludovico Foscarini e la Medicina, in Unamesimo e Rinascimento a Firenze , Florence, 1983, pp. 251-263 [p. 262]. In this case as well, it seems incorrect to consider, as Gardenal does (perhaps in the belief that “agni”, “agnello”, was a metaphor referring to Christian children), "questi sacrifici compiuti dagli ebrei nell'isola di Candia" [“these sacrifices committed by the Jews on the island of Crete”] as true and proper ritual homicides. He is followed in this error by Esposito ("Antonio Gradenigo aveva indagato su pretesi sacrifici umani compiuti dagli ebrei nell'isola di Candia").
14. E. Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, by A. Schmuellevitz, Sh. Simonsohm and M. Benayahu, Jersulem, 1977, vol. II, pp. 225-226.
15. In Hebrew, 'alitat ha-taleh, the slander of the lambs. In Biblical Hebrew, Taleh is the suckling lamb, and this is the original reading of the text, which at any rate appears in this form and with reference to this occurrence in another section of Capsali's chronicle (Seder Eliyahu Zuta , cit., vol. I, p. 246). Other, corrupted or incomprehensible readings appear in many manuscripts, such as ha-'lah, understood by M. Benayahu as ha-'orlah, the foreskin. But "the slander of the lambs", without further explanation, makes no sense. At an earlier date, N. Porges (Elie Capsali et sa Chronique de Venise, in "La Revue des Etudes Juives", LXXVII, 1923, pp. 20-40 [p. 24]) had explained the word, considering it a corruption of ha-mazah, leaven, understanding the term in the sense of Host. Therefore, at Candia, in 1452, the Jews are said to have been accused of profanation of the Host. The hypothesis of Porges, who was unaware of the inquiry for the crucifixion of the lambs, is, today, uncritically accepted by others, who arbitrarily add the Candia case in 1452 to the case record of the desecration of the host (cfr. Simonsohn, in Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, cit., vol, III, p. 77; M. Rubin, Gentile Tales. The Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews , New Haven, Conn., 1999, pp. 115-116). Still more recently, there are those who refer to Capsali's text as the "resoconto del processo intentato in 1452 contro nove ebrei di Candia con l'accusa di omicidio rituale" [“report on the trial proceedings brought against nine Jews of Candia on a charge of ritual murder”] (Cfr. G. Corazzol, Sulla Cronaca dei Sovrani di Venezia ["Divre' ha-yamim le-malke' Wenesiy'ah"] di Rabbi Elia Capsali da Candia, in "Studi Veneziani", XLVII, 2004, p. 318).
16. Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, cit., vol, II, pp. 226-227. In this regard, see also Porges, Elie Capsali, cit., pp. 24-26.
17. Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, cit., vol., II, p. 227.
18. In this case as well, we are in debt to our friend Reiny Mueller for the invaluable archive information supplied in this regard, and to Dr. Rachele Scuro for the transcription of the documents utilized by myself.
19. "Cum se Antonius Grandonico et socii sindici intromisit pro suo officio certas causas quibus in isto Maiori Consilio datum est principium et pro non dando tedium isti Maiori Consilio et tenere totam civitatem impeditam pro simili re, vadit pars quod omnes dicte licet melius videbitur et placebit et in illis capre finem, sicut multis vicibus fuit servatum". The proposal was approved by a large majority (ASV, Maggior Consiglio , Deliberazioni, Libro Ursa [reg. 22] [1415-1454], c. 178v. [c. 184v according to the pencil numeration at the bottom], 5 November 1451). One piece of information, perhaps connected with the accusation of the crucifixion of the lambs, dates back to 1448. In March of that year, Antonio Gradenigo had thrown a Jew from Candia, Yospe [Yoseph] di Retimo, into prison, in Venice, under an unknown accusation. Eight months afterwards, the prisoner complained to the officials of the Quarantia, who were visiting the prisons, so that Gredenigo might transfer him from prison to prison to compel him to confess and had not concluded the preliminary investigation and hearing within eight moths, as required by the laws of Venice ("Capita de XL [... in carceribus] reppererint inter ceteros Yoste [recte: Yospe] ebreum de Rethimo, se gravantem ver virum nobilem Antonium Gradenico, sindicum partium Levantis, teneri carceratum iam 8 mensibus contra id quod de iure facere potest, cum sic disponentibus legibus et ordenibus nostris introducto casu suo ad consilium eum expedire teneretur infra tres menses, ultra quem terminum eum minime teneri poterat, subiugitique ipse Yospe quod idem ser Antonius hoc tempore eum multociens permutavit de carcere suo modo, et videns non posse ab eo habere nisi ut mera est rei veritas, non curat ipsum expedire"). In fact, Gradenigo has present Yospe's case before the Senate a good four times without obtaining his condemnation, as he desired. The Senate granted him another one-month postponement in which to conclude the inquiry and bring the Jew to trial, otherwise he would have to be released (ASV, Senato Mar, reg. 3, c. 83v. 27 October 1448). I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Stefano Piasentini for this information. It is however possible that Yospe's imprisonment, desired by Gradenigo, district mayor in the Levant, should be placed in relation with the prohibition against the ownership of real property by the Jews of Retimo outside the Jewish quarter, which was reiterated by the Counsel of Forty of Venice on 11 December 1448. On that occasion, the judiciaries of the Serenissima were investigating the case in which Jews from Retimo had made fictitious sales of their real property (Cfr. D. Jocoby, An agent juif au service de Venise. David Mavrogonato de Candie, in "Thesaurismata. Bolletino dell'Istituto Ellenico di Studi Bizantini et Post-Bizantimi", IX, 1972, pp. 86-87.
20. "Cum advocatores notri comunis et etiam sindici aliquotiens introducatur ad Maius Consilium aliquos casus et negocia pro officiis suis, quod consilium pro maiori parte male congregatur et bonum sit quod dicta negocia iudicentur et terminentur in numero competenti propter importantium rerum, vadit pars quod quotienscumque advocatores comunis vel sindici habere voluerint Maisu Consilium pro casibus et agendis officiorum suorum debeat dictum consilium esse congregatum ad minimum ad numerum quadrigentorum et eum minori numero non intelligature esse in ordine nec aliquid fieri possit absque dicto numero IIIc vel ab inde supra". The proposal was approved (ASV, Maggior Consiglio , Deliberazioni, Libro Ursi [reg. 22] [1415-1454], c. 182r [c.188r according to the pencil numeration at bottom], 24 June 1452). In the specific case of the legal proceedings against the Jews of Candia (and in particular against Abba del Medigo, as we shall see below) were granted the reduced attendance of three hundred voters. "Quoniam per experientiam visum est quod istud consilium pluries locatum est ad petitionem advocatorum comunis et sindicorum pro facto Abbe medici iudei eet numquam potuit congregari ad numerum ordinatum et per consequens ius et iustitia non potuit habere locum nec dari expeditio dicto, qui dudum fuit et est in carceribus, scilicet vadit pars quod factum dicti iudei entroduci et experiri in Maiori Consilio, cum numero trecentorum et inde supra" (ASV, Maggior Consiglio, Deliberazioni, Libro Ursa [reg. 22] 1415-1454], c. 189r. [c. 195r according to the pencil numeration at the bottom], 5 May 1454.
21. Antonio da Spilimbergo maintained that those Jews of Candia had reduced him to despair "quia illorum voces et mores [...] patarini tamtum pati non potest" (ASV, Consiglio dei Dieci, mixed, reg. 14, c. 117v., 28 June 1452). I wish to thank my friend Reiny Mueller for this curious information.
22. "Abas quondam Moisi ebreu absolutus est sed tamen contra quem processum fuit [...] in eo et pro eo quod dum alias viris nobiles ser Laurentius Honorandi et ser Antonius Gradonico, olim sindici ad partes levantis, se reperissent in civitate Candidae et ad eorum aures, ex fama publica, pervenisset quod ebrei ibidem commorantes in vilipendium catolice fidei christianae omni anno crucifigebant unum agnum in sanctissimo die veneris sancti, ipsi sindici super fama publica examinaverunt multos testes. Postea, post recessum suum per regiment Crette, fuit examinata Marina Vergi olim ebrea et effecta tunc christiana, ex qua testificatione inter alios nominatus fuit ipse Abbas in propria domo quadam nocte crucifigisse unum agnum in ignominia Jesu Christi [...] quod procedatur contra Abbatem quondam Moise del Medigo ebreum qui postposito omni timore huius christianissme rei publice, in maximum opproprium fidei catolicae aurus fuit una cum aliquibus aliis perfidis ebreis in civatate nostra Candidae in die veneris sancti renovare misteria passionis domini Jesu Christi et crucifixerunt unum agnum quod etiam ipse Abbas in domo fecit ut est dictum" (ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650 [II], cc. 9v-10r., 7 June 1454). The decision of the Maggior Consiglio lead to the definitive acquittal of the accused and in so doing reference was made to their release in first instance ("ex quibus scripturis ipse Abbas et ceteri nominati in infrascripta testificatione fuerunt per sindicos placiti, collegati et introducti ad Maius Consilio et in tertio consilio absoluti") and on Gradinego's second appeal, discussed above, on 21 May 1454, "in quo nihil captum fuit".
23. In two different notes, contained in the decision of the Greater Council, mutilated and undated (but it must date back to Mach 1453), mention is made of the inquiry against Lambardo or Lombardo. The first opens with the words: "Ut veniri possit in lucem si [Hyeronimus Lambardus] habuit tot denarios ab Abbate hebreo". The second starts in a rather similar manner, but offers further information: "Ut haberi possit veritas istius promissionis facte per Abbatem [e]breum viro nobili ser Hyeronimo Lombardo et denariorum sibi datorum, ipse ser Hyeronimus retinetur ad pecticionem advocatorum comunis et examinetur" {ASV, Maggior Consiglio, Deliberazioni, Libro Ursa [reg. 22] [1415-1454], c. 193 [c. 199r according to the pencil numeration at bottom], March 1453). In a document in the Raspe dated June 1454, relating to the definitive acquittal of Abba del Medigo, mention is made of the "condemnatione facta contra virum nobilem ser Hieronymum Lambardo " (ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650, [II], c. 10r).
24. This is a reference to the "Bonhomo da Mestre", recorded at Padua in 1432 as the person "qui tenet banchum sancti Nicolae" (cfr. A. Ciscato, Gli ebrei in Padua, 1300-1800, Padua, pp. 242-243). In the Paduan documents, it is also stated that Bonomo di Mosè da Ancona, money lender at Mestre (cfr. D. Carpi, The Jews of Padua During the Renaissance, 1369-1509, doctoral thesis, Jerusalem, 1967, p. 49 [in Hebrew]. His father, who appears in the documents as Moise Rab di Jacob and originated from Nuremberg, lived at Padu in 1460, in the Mastellerie district, in a palace owned by the Capodivacca family of patricians (ASP, Notarile, Paolo Carraro, 1943, c. 452r).
25. “Bonomus ebreus filius Moisi contra quem processum fuit [...] pro eo quod dum ipse Bonomus aliquotiens iret visitatum Abbam ebreum cerceratum in carcere novo ad requisitionem dominorum auditorum novorum sententiarum veluti sindicorum levantis et quandoque intercessissit nomine dicti Abbe cum viro nobili ser Antonio de Priolis, uno dictorum auditorum quinquaginta ex quo ipse Abbas, repertis ipsis denariis, etiam ipse mutuo eos dedit ipsi Bonomo ebreo, credens ut ipsos mutuo daret ipsis ser Antonio de Priolis, qui Bonomus ipsos denarios pro se retinuit. Cumque post aliquos menses ipse Abba vellet denario suos et hoc diercet ipse ser Antino de Priolis, ipse ser Antonius turbatus ex hac gulositate predictum manifestavit dominis advocatoribus comunis". It was therefore decided "quod procedatur contra Bonumum ebreum filium Moisi qui, posposito omni timore Dei et dominii nobilem ser Antonium de Prioles sindicum levantis et eos pro se retinuit." The final decision was that "captum fuit quod ipse Bonomus stare debeat uno anno in carceribus et solvat ducatos centum auri et quod sit bannitus per quinque annos de Venetiis et districtu et si in dicto tempore se permiserit reperiri quod stare debeat uno anno in caceribus et solvat ducatos auri et iterum banniatur" (ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650 [I], c. 28rv., 28 February 1452).
26. "Abba ebreus cerceratus absolutus, sed tamen contra quem processum fuit per dominos asvocatores comunis et offitium suum et pro eo quod dum esset carceratus, ad instantium virorum nobilium ser Antonii Grandonico et ser Antonii de Priolis auditorum et uti sindicorum levantis, et Bonomus ebreus filius qui ipsum quandoque visitabat in carceribus falso et contra scientiam ipsius ser Antoni sibi dixisset quod prefatus ser Antonius de Priolis rogabat ipsum Abba ut ei mutuaret ducatos quinquaginta; ipse Abbas potius pro subornando quem ad aliud finem dedit ipsi Bonomo ducatos Lta aura, credens quod ipse Bonomo eo daret ipsi ser Antonio sed ipse oes retinuit pro se".
27. “Abba Moise del Medigo ebreus contra quem processum fuit per dominos advocatores comunis et offitium suum in eo et pro quod, dum esset carceratus per sindicos levantis, inculpatus de crucifixione agni, parvipendens Dominum nostrum et spirito diabolico ductus quodam die accepta zangula de loco suo eam in vilipendium crucifixi posuit sub ymagine Jesu Christi crucifix dumque carcerati redarguerentur eum, cepit dicere quod christiani adorabant picturas et tabulas et quod ibant ad macellum sicut porci; postea cepit dicere quod domina notra virgo Maria fuerat incantatrix et docuerat Jesum talia facere et quod habuerat tres viros et alios filios" [Approximately : [“Abba Moses del Medigo the Jew, who was tried by the district prosecutors in the course of their duties, when incarcerated by the district mayors in the Levant, under indictment for crucifying lambs in contempt of Our Lord, and led onwards by the spirit of the Devil, on that day he moved his piss-pot from its proper place in contempt for the Crucifix and placed it beneath the image of Jesus Christ Crucified, and when the other jail-birds told him off about it, he started to say that Christians adore pictures and planks, and that they even slaughtered pigs, after which he started to say that our Holy Virgin was a witch and that she taught Jesus to take revenge and she had three husbands and other children”]. The Avogaria requested "quod procedatur contra Abbam ebreum Moisis de Creta qui existens carceratus proper fidem, dictus spiritu diabolico in maximam ignominiam fidei catolice multa turpissima verba dixit contra virginem Mariam et Jesus Christum accipiendo zangulam et eam ponendo ante crucifium". [“that Abba, the Jew from Crete, be tried who, being incarcerated for his faith, led onwards by the spirit of the Devil, and spoke with the greatest ignominy of the Catholic Faith against the Virgin mary and Jesus Christ, taking his piss-pot and placing it beneath the crucifix”] The sentence established that "captum fuit quod iste Abbas stare debeat uno anno in carceribus et solvat libras mille advocatoribus comunis" [“if he was captured the said Abba should spend one year in jail and pay one thousand pounds to the municipal prosecutor’s office”] (ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650 (I), c. 49rv., 30 October 1452). On the custom of desecrating crucifixes and other sacred images, placing them in the latrines or using them as eccentric coverings for piss-pots and chamber pots; see C. Cluse, Stories of Breaking and Taking the Cross. A Possible Context for the Oxford Incident of 1268 , in "Revue d'Histoire Ecclesiastique", XV (1995), p. 218.
28. On the figure of Abbadi Mosè del Medigo and his family see, in particular, Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 230-233.
29. Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, cit., vol. II, p. 253.
30. ASV, Avogaria di Comun, reg. 3660, cc. 107r-108r.: the trial of Abramo di David da Soncino, the client, and Bonaventura di Abramo da Feltre, the accomplice, guilty of the murder of "Elia greco", son of Abba del Medigo, "prestatore a Soave", was held at Venice at the beginning of the month of December of 1505. It appears that in 1056, Abba's widow, Ritte, was occupied in matters related to the estate of the deceased son (cfr. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit. p. 232). The murder of Elia the Greek (but not the identification of Elia the Greek with Elia, son of Abba del Medigo) is mentioned in M. Melchiorre, Gli ebrei a Feltre nel Quattrocento. Una storia rimossa, in G.M. Varanni and R.C. Mueller, Ebrei nella Terraferma veneta del Quattrocento, Florence, 2005, p. 101, no. 73.
31. Cfr. Jacoby, Les juifs at Venice, cit., p. 172.
32. Cfr. Gardenal, Ludovico Foscarini e la medicina, cit., pp. 251-263. On the position of the Jewish physician in Renaissance Italy and the frequent disputes in his regard, see, among others, A. Toaff, Il vino et la carne. Una communita ebraica nel Medievo , Bologna, 1989, pp. 265-285; G. Cosmacini, Medicina e mondo ebraico. Dalla Bibbia al secolo dei ghetti, Bari, ,2001, pp. 143-211.
33. See, in this regard, M.J.C. Lowry, Humanism and Anti-Semitism in Renaissance Venice. The Strange Story of "Décor Puellarum", in "La Bibliofilia", LXXXVII (1985), pp. 39-54. in view of the fact Foscarini had been incarcerated in the two-year period of 1460-1461, the city business permits granted by Venice to the Jewish doctors (and first of all to Yehudah messer Leon) should have been signed in that period. Notwithstanding Foscarini's protest, on the request of the Doge Cristoforo Moro, the Cardinal Bessarione, Papal legate, dated 17 December 1463, confirmed that these agreements were respected.
34. Cfr. Gardenal Ludovico Foscarini e la medicina, cit., p. 260. "Nuperrime quidam Iudeus togatus, auro circumdatus, demissis capillis, severa facie ausus est nobillissiumis matronis in generosa familia lacrimantibus oculis dicere: compatior ignorantiae vestae quia creditis Deum factorem coeli et terrae ses manducandum preabere et non dedignari lenonum impurissimorum et vulgatissimarum meretricium ora."
35. Cfr. M.A. Shulvass, Racconto delle tribolazioni passate in Italia, in "Hebrew Union College Annual", XXII (1949), pp. 1-21 (17) (in Hebrew). The anonymous chronicle has been republished by I. Sonne, Da Paolo IV a Pio V, Jerusalem, 1954, pp. 183-202 (pp. 200-201) (in Hebrew).
36. Fra Francesco Suriano, writing before 1483, noted with ill-concealed pride that the Jewish women of Venice, when they gave birth, often did not hesitate to ask the Virgin Mary for help, in a paradoxical, self-interested cult with magical connotations (F. Suriano, Il trattato di Terra Santa e dell'Oriente , by G. Golubuvich, 1900, p. 94-95): "Li Iudei similiter sono constrecti de reverirla (la Vergine Maria); e secundo che ho udito da obstretricie digne di fede, ne l'alma cita de Venetia e christiane che se sono retrovate alquante volte arcoglier loro fioli nel parto de piu Hebree, le qual testificavono e dicevono che non partuire senza la sua invocazione e recommendazione; et vede che loro mariti spargeano per la camara alquante monede d'argento furlane, le qual hano la sua ymagine. Ricevuta la gratia, e liberata dal parto, scopano e bugliano fori de la fenestra quelle monede, e diceano: "fora Maria, fora Maria!" [“Similarly, the Jews are compelled to revere Her (the Virgin Mary); and according to what I have heard from trustworthy midwives who went to assist several Jewesses in childbirth in the Christian city of Venice, they testified and said that the Jewesses never give birth without Her invocation and recommendation; their husbands toss a few Friulian silver coins around the room, bearing Her image. When they have received Her blessing and are freed from childbirth, they sweep them up and throw them out the window, saying ‘Get out, Mary, Mary get out!’”]. The quotation appears in D. Nissim, Due viaggi in Palestina, in "La Rassegna Mensile di Israel", XL (1974), pp. 256-259 (259). However one wishes to take Franciscan's picturesque account, it seems to be a fact that, towards the end of the Fifteenth century, Jewish women giving birth in Venice were very numerous. It should be noted, without surprise, that such a practice was still widespread among Jewish women two centuries later, as testified to by Giulio Morosini (Derekh Emunah. Via delle fede mostrata agli ebrei, Rome Propaganda Fiede, 1683, pp. 1050-1051).
37. Cfr. D. Nissim, Un"minian" di ebrei ashkenaziti a Venezia negli anni 1465-1480, in "Italia", XVI (2004), p. 43.
38. The little information on the origins of the Jewish community in Trent, from the episcopal privilege of 1403 to the money lending agreements and legal disputes of the mid-Fifteen Century, are contained in G. Menestrina, Gli ebrei a Trento, in "Tridentum", VI (1903), pp. 304-316, 348-374, 384-411. This information has been utilized, without addition, by the following authors: C. Andreolli, Una ricognizione delle communita ebraiche nel Trentinto tra XIV e XVII secolo , in "Materiali di lavoro", 1988, nn. 1-4, pp. 151-181; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475 , cit., pp. 14-25, as well as D. Rando's recent monograph, Dai margini la memoria. Johannes Hinderbach (1418-1486), Bologna, 2003, pp. 457-491, and S. Luzzi, Stranieri in citta. Presenza tedesca e societa urbana a Trento (secoli XV-XVIII), Bologna, 2003, pp. 180-194. In this regard, see also F. Ghetta, Fra Bernardino Tomitano da Feltre e gli ebrei di Trento nel 1475, in "Civis", suppl. 2 (1986), pp. 129-177.
39. Mosè di Samuele da Trento and the wife of Dolce di Ezzelino (Anshel Asher) had five children, Samuele, Ezechia, Benedetto known as Barukh, Perentina and Osella (Feige). Moise's testament was ratified at Trent on 10 June 1423 (cfr. M. Davide, Il ruolo economico delle donne nelle communità ebraiche di Trieste e di Treviso nei secoli XIV e XV , in "Zhakhor. Rivista di storia degli ebrei d'Italia", VII, 2004, pp. 193-212 [206-208].
40. Cfr. Menestrina, Ebrei a Trento, cit., pp. 304-306.
41. Cfr. ibidem, pp. 307-308
42. Now Conegliano Veneto.
43. Angelo da Verona reached Trent in 1407. On that occasion, Hinderbach seized from the money lender, whom he called “hebreum qui venit huc (sc. a Trento), de Brixia sive eius territorio”, an illuminated manuscript of the Vitae sanctorum (cfr. “Pro Bibliotheca erigenda”. Mostra di manoscritti ed incunabili del vescovo di Trento Iohannes Hinderbach , 1465-1486, Trent, 1989, p. 69.
44. Cfr. Luzzi, Stranieri in città, pp. 180-185.
45. "Sarra ivit in canipam ipsius et se lavit in fossato ibi existente [...] quia passa fuerat menstrua Sarra diebus precedentibus, quia est de more Iudeorum quod mulieres Iudee post menstruase lavent." Deposition of Samuele of Nuremberg of 7 June 1475. Sarah was the wife of Maestro Tobias of Magdeburg (cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., vol. I, p. 244).
46. "Ipsi Iudei portant duos cultellos in una vagina, quorum uno utuntur ad incisionem carnium, altero ad lacticinia" [“This Jew carried two knives in a sheate, one to cut meat, the other to cut dairy products”]. Deposition of Samuele of Nuremberg dated 7 June 1475 (cfr. ibidem, p. 246). "Moris est [...] portare duos coltellos in una vagina, quorum uno utuntur ad lacticinia, altero vero ad carnes". Deposition di Mosè "the Old Man" of Würzburg, dated 4 April 1475 (cfr. ibidem, p. 354).
47. On the extermination of the five hundred Jews of the community of Vienna in 1421, known in the Hebraic sources such as the Gezerah, i.e., "the persecution", see S. Krauss, Die Wiener Geserah vom Jahre 1421, Vienna, 1920; O.H. Stowasser, Zur Geschichte der Wiener Geserah, in "Vierteljahresheft fur Sozial - und Wirtschaftsgeschichte" , XVI (1922), pp. 104-118; Sh. Spitzer, Das Wiener Judentum bis zur Vertreibung im Jahre 1421 , in "Kairos", II (1977), pp. 134-145.
48. On Hinderbach's attitude towards the Jews, before and after the events at Trent, see, in particular, I. Rogger and M. Bellabarbia, Il
principe vescovo Johannes Hinderbach (1465-1486) fra tardo Medioevo e Umanesmo , Atti del Convegno promosso dall Biblioteca Communale di Trento (2-6 October 1989), Bologna, 1992; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., pp. 1-13, and above all, Rando, Dai margini la memoria , cit. Pp. 457-491.
49. "Hiis diebus apud Tergestum Italiae civitatem a Venetis obsessiam alias fuit, in qua milites ultamontanes equos, asinos, canes, gattos, et sorices comederunt [...] quorum tanta fuit constantia fidei ut, priusquam urbem ob inediam deserere aut dedere (vellent), ita apud se statuerunt humanam prius Iudeorum, qui intus erant, [...] carnem vesci" [Approximately: “In those days, Trent, a city in Italy, was besieged by Venice, and the ultramontane defenders ate horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, and mice [...]; such was their constancy in the faith that, that when they were about to have to give up the city, they decided to nourish themselves on flesh of the Jews who lived there”] (cfr. Rando, Dai margini la memoria, cit. pp. 168-169).
50. Burcardo di Andwil, Bellum Venetum, Bellum ducis Sigismundi contra Venetos (1487), in Carmina varia, by M. Welber, Rovereto, 1987, p. 105.
51. Cfr. Rando, Dai margini la memoria, cit. pp. 478-491.
52. Ristretto della vita e martirio di S. Simone fanciullo della città di Trento, Rome Filipp Neri alle Muratte, 1594, p. 4.
53. Cfr. Rando, Dai margini la memoria, cit., pp. 483-487.
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CHAPTER FOUR 

PORTOBUFFOLÈ, VOLPEDO, ARENA PO, MAROSTICA, RINN

On 6 July 1480, three Jews accused of ritual child murder, required for the performance of their Passover rites, during the Passover period of that year, were executed at Venice. Servadio da Colonia, money lender at Portobuffolè, Mosè da Treviso and Giacobbe of Cologne (1), having confessed -- sometimes spontaneously and sometimes under torture -- were impaled and burned alive in public in the Piazza San Marco, between the two columns of San Marco and San Todaro. Another defendant, Giacobbe “with the beard”, committed suicide in prison to avoid torture. Other Jews, from Portobuffolè and Treviso, were condemned to various punishments of imprisonment for complicity in the crime and thereafter banned from Venice and its territory. Tried and condemned before the podestà of Portobuffolè, the Venetian Andrea Dolfin, the defendants had appealed to the Avogaria di Commun, but, notwithstanding the fact that they were defended by some of the best lawyers in Padua, their sentence was upheld (2).
According to the indictment, a small wandering beggar about six years of age, a native of Seriate in the Bergamo region, had been abducted from the market place at Treviso, where he had been begging, by two Jews, who were alleged to have taken him to nearby Portobuffolè, on the Livenza river, in an eventful journey, the stages of which did not pass entirely unobserved by travelers and boatmen. Here, in the dwelling of the local money lender, Servadio, who was also the instigator of the abduction, the cruel crime was said to have been committed for ritual purposes, in the presence and with the active participation of other local and foreign Jews. After draining off the blood, the perpetrators burnt the body in the oven of a house owned by Mosè da Treviso, another money lender at Portobuffolè. Denunciations and informer's reports, including Donato, Seradio's servant, then converted to Christianity, are said to have led to the indictment
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of the Jewish defendants and to their condemnation for the murder of the nameless little victim, immediately rebaptized under the name of Sebastiano Novello, of obvious significance.
Portobuffolè, like so many other small centres of the Marca of Treviso and the territory of Venice, was, in the 15th century the seat of a community of Ashkenazi Jews, the traces of which have remained in Hebraic manuscript texts, copied in that small city in the years preceding the Sebastiano Novello murder (3). The chronicle of this cruel execution, as described by the diarist apologists of the time, inform us that at least one of the defendants, Servadio, faced death in prayer, accompanied by contemptuous remarks about Christianity (4). This detail may be related to the legendary story of a stone slab, walled in the Ashkenazim synagogue Scola Canton of the ghetto of Venice, containing a verse from the psalms (32:10: 'Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall encompass him ’). In the local Hebraic tradition, this phrase is said to have been pronounced by Servadio himself, among the flames of the stake in the Piazza San Marco. During these terrible moments, the condemned man is said to have taken the time to point out the unhappy informer, his servant Donato, baptized under the name of Sebastiano, to the Jews in the crowd, who were present at this terrifying ceremony. The spectators are said to have included Josef, cantor of the synagogue of Portobuffolè (who was perhaps the same Fays who acted as teacher in Servadio’s dwelling), who is said to have interpreted the Psalm with a new meaning, imparted by the person reciting it: "The bitter pains which I suffer, will fall on the wicked" (5). Thus history and hagiography became confused, while the authenticity and memory of the child’s true martyrdom ricocheted back and forth between Christians and Jews.
Milan, summer of 1482. A brother of the Order of the Serviti, Giovanni Guerra, and Simone, Jew of Tortona were publicly executed by order of the Duke. Guerra was said to have been accused of barbarously killing a child about nine years of age, near the farmhouse Scorticavacca di Volpedo, near Tortona, on Holy Tuesday of that year; the second defendant was accused of instigating the friar to commit the crime, so as to obtain the blood of a Christian child, as required for the Jewish Passover rites. Both defendants confessed. In the preceding May, a special commission had left the Court of the Sforzas with the assignment of investigating the cruel death of Giovannino Costa, a young shepherd, who was accustomed to coming down from the hills to Tortona to sell eggs and butter on market days (6).
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The diligent commissioner ordered the arrest of all the members of the little Jewish community of German origin, including Madio (Mohar, Meir), the local money lender, and the requisition of all pledges deposited in the bank. The persons under investigation were subsequently transferred to Milan. At the conclusion of the investigation, the culpability of the Jew Simone, the instigator, and the "scoundrel friar", the unnatural, cruel executioner, was clearly established. The other persons under investigation, including the banker, were released, following a finding that they had had nothing to do with the crime, and were permitted to leave Tortona.
From the official correspondence sent by the court of the Sforzas to the podestà and the bishop of Tortona, we learn that:
"A certain homicide being committed during the past Holy Days against the person of a boy, at the instance of certain Jews in the diocese of Derthona, the following persons are held in prison here: Fra Giovanni Guerra of the Order of the Servants, and one Simon, a Jew, who did not deny having committed the said excess, the horrible and detestable nature of which, in the eyes of any faithful Christian, we leave to you to judge [...]. The wicked friar, with many wounds, cruelly killed the innocent boy in the region of Derthona to sell his blood to the Jews” (7).
The death of the presumed guilty parties and the prompt release of the other suspected Jews were insufficient to restore equilibrium to their relations with the community of Tortona. Many Jews emigrated elsewhere, the others became Christian. Simon's widow, executed at Milan, was left with a daughter, who took the name of Michela. Simon’s other four sons, two aged less than seven, and the other two ten and twelve respectively, were made to take refuge with the Jews of Piacenza, out of fear that they might be converted to Christianity. On 24 April 1483, the Duke of Milan, under pressure from the justly impatient bishop of Tortona, Giacomo Botta, requested the podestà of Piazenza to do everything possible to ensure that his two smaller sons were returned with speed to Donna Michela to receive the holy baptism (8).
In the collective memory of the Ashkenazi Jews of Northern Italy, the crime of Volpedo was to appear rather similar to that of Trent; it is true that Yoseph Ha-Cohen (Giuseppe Sacerdoti), one of the most famous Jewish chroniclers of the 16th century, after sadly reporting the events linked to the martyrdom of Simonino, observed that "in those years, the Jews in the territory of Tortona were slandered because of a Jew of the place, as had happened at Trent, and here, as well, the boy, named Giovannino, was called a saint;
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and the people went fornicating behind him, and for us, it was only harm and disgrace" (9).
The Volpedo case, involving a criminal wearing the cassock of a brother in the Holy Orders, was not an isolated one. In the summer of 1481, a Minorite Franciscan friar was arrested at Cortemaggiore on a charge of accepting a commission from local Jews to commit a child murder intended to provide them with Christian blood for their Passover, the generous commission amounting to four hundred gold ducats. Placed in a cage and appended from the bell tower at Cremona, the friar was left to die slowly of starvation, after which his body became a feast for birds of prey (10). The documents say nothing of the fate of the Jews, the presumed instigators of this holy homicide.
Arena, April 1479. In this village on the banks of the Po river, a child disappeared along the road from Padua to Piacenza during the Passover period of that year, while suspicion immediately fell on the local money lenders Bellomo di Madio (Simha Bunim b. Meir), and his entourage. Finally, David, employed by Bellomo, decided to spill the beans and reveal the particulars of this obscure crime. His patron had commissioned Donato, a Jew from Padua, to abduct a Christian child "to prepare for the Jewish ceremonies". Conveyed in secrecy to Bellomo’s dwelling, the child, known only by the nickname “Turlulu”, was said to have been cruelly crucified in a holy ceremony with the participation of all the local Jews and others from other neighboring villages. The little victim’s body is finally said to have been thrown by night into the muddy waters of the Po (11).
This was considered sufficient to proceed with the arrest of the parties guilty of this brutal crime, as well as that of their accomplices, both men and women, including Bellomo’s wife, who uselessly but vehemently protested her husband’s innocence. Sacle (Izchak), a money lender from the Borgo San Giovanni, in the Piacenza region, who had, years before, been mentioned in the defendant’s depositions at the Trent trial as an habitual consumer of Christian blood, and had for this reason been exposed to more than a few minor risks, was also arrested and taken to Pavia, where he was to be tried (12).
In the meantime, Donato, the supposed author of the abduction and one of the principal perpetrators of the child’s crucifixion, at the conclusion of a difficult interrogation confessed everything and pointed an accusing finger at Belomo and his family. The podestà of Pavia lost no time and proceeded with the seizure and confiscation of all the goods of the Jews of Arena.
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But then a sensation occurred. Turlulu, the crucified child, turned up perfectly safe and sound. His body, examined by physicians and experts with all due diligence, didn’t even have a scratch on it. At this point, Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and his mother, the duchess Bona, imperiously requested that Bellomo and Donato, the principle defendant, accused of a ritual infanticide that never happened, were transferred, without further delay, to Milan, together with the resurrected boy.
The protests of the Pavian authorities, who desired unperturbedly to proceed with preparations for the trial, as if nothing had happened, produced no effect. The guileless Turlurlu was presented on a seat in the Senate, in Milan, unaware of the reasons for all the hullabaloo, having himself become the principal personage in a sort of “virtual” ritual homicide. His interrogation helped disperse the fog of mystery which still envelopes this grotesque tale. Finally, as might have been anticipated, Bellomo and Donato were acquitted of all charges in the indictment for a crime which was never committed, were released from jail and permitted to return to Arena.
The Duke of Milan and his mother did not fail to voice their own profound disappointment to the rulers of Pavia in a missive, sent after the release of the Jews, written without any moderation of discourse: "We are amazed, not without annoyance, by this scandalous invention, of which have just caused such great inconvenience to both people and subjects". He concluded the letter, celebrating his own sense of justice and equanimity, "that we have caused the truth to be known about such a scandalous imputation". The Duke then demanded that the property illegally seized at Bellomo and other Jews of Arena be immediately returned (13).
One month later, there was still no change in the situation, and, as a result of the protests from the Jews, the Duke of Milan repeated, with renewed vigor, his request that the goods seized from them at the time should be returned. The response, from the podestà of Pavia, is an inimitable example of both impudence and insensitivity. He would release the Jews’ property, and sign it back over to them, but the heavy burden of procedural costs, plus the salaries of all judges, notaries and functionaries having concerned themselves with the case, would have to be paid by the acquitted defendants. The ineffable podestà said that he was fully convinced that the Jews would be open-minded and well disposed to accede to the paradoxical statement that, "for so little money, I am certain the Jews will not prove themselves too unwilling" (14).
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The facts of the Arena case led the representatives of the Jewish communities of Lombardy to appeal to Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza, so that he might defend them from the ritual murder accusations which were spreading dangerously, like a spot of oil on water, throughout all the territories at that time, threatening to conclude in the same tragic manner as the Trent affair. Nor could the confessions, often extorted with torture and violence, constitute valid proof linking the Jews to such horrendous crimes, as indicated by the outcome of the affair at Arena Po ("the accused, at the said locality of Arena, as a result of the tremendous torments inflicted upon them in various parts of the body, confessed to committing a crime of which they were innocent, and confined in the Castello, and in the Casa del Capitanio di Giustizia, for acknowledging that what they had said was actually true, and if God, in his grace, had not sent word that the boy had been found, they would have fared worse than the defendants at Trent, which only God knows whether it was true or not, and let us just hope that God makes a demonstration of the truth in due time"). The Arena case was not an isolated one. The Jews, in their appeal of 19 May 1479, informed Sforza that other, repeated, accusations of ritual infanticide, all proving false and inconsistent, had been made over the last few months in various cities of the Dukedom, from Pavia to Valenza, from Stradella to Bormio (15).
"The following case occurred two months ago: in Valenza, finding that a boy was missing, suspicion being aroused against the Jews of that region, the Jews were badly threatened, and if, by the grace of God, the boy had not been found drowned in a ditch, they would certainly have suffered worse. Similarly, a boy from Monte Castillo being lost, the Jews of that region were accused, but the boy was later found [...].
The same thing happened at Bormio, as well as at Pavia: a boy remained outside the bridge of Ticino after nightfall and was taken in by a gentleman, to stay at his house, so as to return him to his own home; and as the boy was not immediately found, suspicion fell upon the Jews, with much murmuring against the Jews; a house was searched with many threats, in such a way that the patron of the house fled in fear and has still not returned. And if the boy had not then been found, the Jews would not have been without danger and serious trouble, as happened to the Jews of Stradella, as well as at Pavia, which were sacked, causing the people to grumble, at the risk of raising a great scandal and disorder to the detriment and danger of the State of Your Illustrious Lordship” (16).
After stating the classical motives, which should have deprived the ritual murder accusation of all credibility, particularly, in light of the Biblical prohibition against killing and against the consumption of blood, the
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representatives of the Jewish communities of Lombardy added another motive, which to our minds appears seems odd. In the lands of the Great Turk, where powerful and wealthy Jews lived and prospered, owning large numbers of Christian slaves, both adults and children, it was said to be an easy matter for Jews to procure the blood of Christian children without running any risk to their persons and property at all.
But this did not occur, and there was no news from those regions of child murders committed by Jews for ritual purposes.
"There are, it is said there, innumerable rich Jews in the lands of the Turks, Moors and other infidels, who hold slaves and servants, and are able to have the [Christian] boys at their pleasure, to do what they liked with them without respect or danger, which does not prevent them from doing such things in the lands of the Christians, at the price of great danger, not only to their property but also to their person” (17).
The argument could just as easily have been turned around. Even the most inveterate anti-Semites knew in fact that the accusations of ritual murder and profanation of the Host were confined to relatively small geographical areas, which included all Jewish communities of the German-language regions, as well as all the Ashkenazi regions in Italy, at the foot of the Alps (18). Giovanni Hinderbach himself, in the autographic preamble to the trials, explained the manner in which the child murder committed by the Jews of Trent was in no way a novelty.
"In fact", he added, "the impiety of the Jews has come cruelly to light over the past few years in many cities and localities of Germany, as well as in regions such as Swabia and Bavaria, Austria and Styria, the Rhineland and Saxony, as well as in Poland and Hungary" (19). The lands of the Great Turk were obviously excluded.
Not many years had passed since the incidents at Arena, Portobuffolè and Volpedo, when a new ritual murder case came to light, upsetting the lives of the Jewish communities of northern Italy. During Holy Week, April of 1485, in Valrovina, in the territories of the Marostica region, a five-year old child, Lorenzino Sossio, was found murdered, his body horribly mutilated (20). The macabre discovery, at the feet of an oak tree in a pasture on the upland plain, was made by a local goatherd, while a hermit ("a devout hermit, who had long been a spectator and had diligently observed everything") informed the authorities and populace that the killers had committed the horrendous crime by mutilating
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poor Lorenzino in the foreskin (21), "inflicting upon him by force of repeated punctures and wounds in the blood vessels", finally stoning the body and covering it with stones. The news was immediately disseminated that the persons responsible for the ritual murder were Jews, from Bassano, "having come to the Vicentino for business or pleasure, but perhaps principally to commit the crime". Thus the chronicles reported the tragic fate of Lorenzino Sossio da Valrovina, later beatified as Simoncino of Trent, de quo adest traditio cum fuisse ab hebreis occisum [of whom tradition has it that he was killed by the Jews].
"In 1485, 5 April in the Villa di Valrovina under Marostica in the territory of the Vicentino region, the Jews stoned the Sainted Lorenzino, 5 years old, and buried him several times under rocks; but one of his arms always extended from the grave. Once discovered, the delinquents were punished, and all the Jews were expelled by the above mentioned residents of the Vicentino from their City and District; and the Serenissima Prince of Venice confirmed the sentence by Ducal order in 1486" (22).
Five years later, in the spring of 1500, the podestà of Vicenza, Alvise Moro, informed the Venetian authorities that the "devote hermit", sole eyewitness to the crime, after being incarcerated and duly tortured, had revealed the name of the person guilty of Lorenzino’s murder. The murderer was alleged to be ben Marcuccio, money lender at Bassano ("which hermit is in prison here, and would like permission to speak, wishing to know the truth: that if they took one Marcuzzo, a Jew, they would find out something [...] take the Jew, accused of killing the boy, and take Marchuzo da Bassan, and you will learn the truth, is what the hermit said, in those very words") (23).
Marcuccio was the son of Lazzaro Sacerdote of Treviso, who worked at Cittadella and was a nephew of Salamone da Piove di Sacco (24).
Active at Bassano although highly unpopular locally, he had until then enjoyed the protection of Venice, constant over time, the City having renewed his ten-year money lending permit in April 1499 (25). We do not know whether the tardy revelations of the "devote hermit" induced Marcuccio to leave Bassano and turn over the management of the local money lending bank. But that was precisely what happened: after the nephew of Salamone da Piove had become, it seems, the principal protagonist of a tardy trial, brought at Vicenza for the murder of the boy Marostica. However that may be, even in that region, the mystery of the crime was not solved, nor were the guilty ever identified with certainty.
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In the light of what we have just observed, it seems obvious that the expulsion of the Jews from Vicenza in 1486 and the cessation of their money-lending activities were not related to the presumed martyrdom of the Saint Lorenzino (26). Of course, none of this will discourage historians, scholars and local priests constantly on the lookout for more or less imaginary holy personages by means of whom their own poverty-stricken, obscure village or locality may be exalted, causing it to perform an otherwise inconceivable quantum leap of fame.
Twenty three years before, at Rinn, diocese of Bressanone, on the road to Innsbruck. A company of Jewish merchants, returning from the fair at Merano, were traversing a small village in the Tyrol and bumped into a three-year old child, Andrea Oxner. Having informed themselves as to his family, the Jews knew that the mother was far from home, in the fields at Ambras reaping wheat, and that little Andrea had been entrusted to the care of his godfather, the “Weisselbauer” of Rinn, Hannes Mayr. Employing every possible stratagem and pretext, the Jews induced this dishonest peasant to hand the child over to them, promising that they would take him away with them to live a life of ease and comfort. But they had no intention of traveling very far with him. Stopping in a birch tree thicket, a little ways above Rinn, "the innocent victim’s veins were barbarously and cruelly severed by those inhuman creatures, who then hung the bloodless cadaver from a tree". Having obtained the Christian blood which they needed, the Jewish merchants hurried to leave the scene, crossing the northern confines of the Tyrol on the road to Ellbogen (27).
The martyred child’s body was discovered by the desperate mother. The godfather, under intense interrogation, admitted entrusting Andrea to the Jews on the promise that they would educate the child in luxury and riches. He then confessed that he had been persuaded by innumerable glasses of wine, drunk in the company of those foreigners, and a hatful of gold coins which had been placed in his hand. The impious Mayr’s fate was signed, more by God than by men. "The perfidious peasant who sold the child was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in his own house, linked with chains, where he lived imprisoned and mad for a good two whole years" (28). Thus recites the implausible hagriography of Andrea of Rinn, which is full of gaps and for which there is no convincing contemporary documentation. The report remains inextricably linked to local traditions whose relationship to reality can only leave one perplexed and dubious.
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Nevertheless, the cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli, later Pope Clement XIV, in his famous report of 19 January 1760, presented to the Congregation of the Holy Office, with which he intended in general to absolve the Jews from the accusation of ritual infanticide, made an exception, in addition to for the martyrdom of Simon of Trent, also for that of Andreas of Rinn. The two cases were to be considered exceptional events, not to be generalized, but were nevertheless concrete and real (29):
"I therefore admit as true the fact of the sainted Simon, the boy of three years of age killed by Jews in hatred of the faith of Jesus Christ in Trent in the year 1475 [...] I accept as true another crime, committed in the village of Rinn, diocese of Bressanone, in 1462, against the sainted Andrea, a boy barbarously killed by the Jews in hatred of the faith of Jesus Christ [...] I do not, however, believe, even admitting as true the true facts of Bressanone and Trent, that one can justifiably deduce that this is a maxim, either theoretical or practical, of the Hebrew nation, since two events alone are insufficient to establish a certain and common axiom" (30).
The accused in the Trent trial in 1475, under torture, supplied ample testimony of ritual homicides committed, according to them, in the preceding years in the German-speaking lands from which they came, and in the centers of northern Italy where communities of Ashkenazi Jews had formed more or less recently. The defendants were alleged to have assisted or participated in these murders directly; in some cases, they had only heard about them from others. Sometimes they were able to remember the names of the other Jews who had taken part.
Isacco da Gridel, near Vedera, immigrated from Voitsberg, a village near Cleburg, was employed as a cook by Angelo of Verona, one of the principle defendants in the trial for the death of Simonino. In 1460, Isacco attended the lower courses of a Talmudic school at Worms, in the territory of the Rhineland, and it was there that he participated in a ritual murder, a little before Passover. A Jew by the name of Hozelpocher is said to have purchased a two-year old child from a Christian beggar at a very high price and to have taken the child to his dwelling in the Jewish quarter. The murder is said to have been committed here, in the spacious "stufa" [parlor] of the house, in a collective ritual, with the participation of about forty local Jews. The blood is said to have been gathered in a glass receptacle, but is not said to have reached the quantity of liquid contained in two egg shells (31).
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Joav of Ansbach in Franconia was a domestic servant in the house of the Maestro Tobias da Magdeburg, the occulist physician of Trent. Joav had recently immigrated from the city of Prince Bishop Hinderbach, and had previously rendered service in the house of a Jew named Mohar (Meir) at Würzburg for over fifteen years. During this period, Joav testified to having seen the Christian servant, Elisabeth Baumgartner, assigned to housework, which was forbidden to Jews on Sabbath days, introduce Christian children into the dwelling, in secrecy and during the night, on at least three occasions. The murders were said to have been committed in the wood-shed, in a collective ritual which then concluded in the chapel-synagogue, in a ceremony with the participation of numerous local Jews. The blood was gathered in a silver chalice, while the children’s bodies were buried at night in a terrain owned by Mohar, outside the city (32). Mosè of Ansbach, the young teacher of Maestro Tobias’s children, for his part, informed the judges that, in 1472, while he was working at Nuremberg, he had learned that a ritual murder had been committed approximately eight years beforehand, in the dwelling of a certain Mayer Pilmon, in the presence of and with the participation of all the males of the family (33).
Mosè da Bamberg was a poor traveler who, having left Bayreuth with his son on his way to Pavia, had stopped for a brief stay in the city of Trent, as a guest in money lender Samuele da Nuremberg’s house, and had, to his disgrace, been present during the tragic days of the murder, confessing his knowledge of the murders to the judges. In 1466, on the road from Frankfurt on the Oder, in the Marca of Brandenburg, while transporting some goods to be sold in that city, he had stumbled across some professional child hunters. While traveling through a thick forest, Mosè had, in fact, encountered two Jews, remembering only the their first names, Salamone and Giacobbe, in the act of preparing to hurl into a nearby river the bodies of two boys, massacred by them previously. Their prey had been captured in a small peasant village at the foot of the forest (34). The two hunters showed the appalled Mosè their tin-plated iron bottles, filled with red liquid, and were satisfied at the thought that they were going to rake in a tidy sum through the sale of that liquid. But they needed the money to live (35).
Whether or not this was all simply a Grimm's Brothers fairy tale, which might well be told at the right time and place to frighten children and give them sleepless nights, we don't know. It is certain that the poor Mosè da Bamberg could not precisely remember the identity of the two hunters and was unable to locate the
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forest in which the crimes had been committed; nor did he know the names of the two victims or the village from which they had been abducted, or the name of the river into which they were said to have been thrown. He recited this fantastic confession before his attentive inquisitors, oscillating, suspended by a rope tied around his feet and his head downwards (36).
Israel of Brandenburg, the strange young painter, later baptized under the name of Wolfgang, knew how to be loquacious when he had to be, and had heaps of picturesque ritual murder tales to tell, tales which had reached his ears more or less directly, with which to regale his avid and powerful interlocutors. He had allegedly gathered this information for several months, moving from the Rhineland to the Tyrol, then down to Venice, traveling through the cities of the Veneto. He claimed to possess first hand information on the ritual murders of Christian children committed at Güzenhausen in 1461 and Wending ten years afterwards. At Piove di Sacco and Feltre, Jews from his native country had told him of the ritual murders recently committed at Padua and at Mestre (37).
The women in the trial were no less prominent and their report of the child murders committed by their men, husbands, parents, friends and friends, were precise and detailed. Bona, Angelo da Verona’s sister, was a survivor of family and marital problems. She had lived with her stepfather, Chaim, from the time she was a little girl, first at Conegliano del Friuli and then at Mestre. When she was little over fourteen years old, she had been married off, against her will, to Madio (Meir), a Jew from Borgomanero in the Novara region. Madio had a reputation as a madman and a thoroughly bad egg, who, after wasting the already scanty family fortune in gambling, had abandoned her, moving elsewhere. As a result, Bona had returned to her mother's house at Conegliano del Friuli, and was then taken to Trent with her mother Brunetta (Brünnlein), also an unhappy and frustrated woman, as the more or less welcome guests of her brother, Angelo da Verona, who had, in recent years, been able to scrape together a small fortune in the money trade. Before the judges, Bona admitted to using Christian blood during the Passover period, beginning as early as her brief matrimonial journey to Borgomanero. Her husband Madio had obtained it from a carpenter friend, guilty of killing a boy for this purpose from Masserano in Piedmont.
"(Bona) [said that], during the entire time that she stayed with the said husband (Madio), her husband used the blood of a Christian child [...] and she did the same during the three year period of her stay at the Castello di Borgomanero, adding, when asked, that her husband had obtained the blood he used from a certain

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Mosè, a Jewish carpenter and resident of Masserano in Piedmont; that Mosè had conveyed the blood to her husband through a servant of the said Mosè, whose name Bona said she did not know, and that the servant, in bringing the blood, in Bona’s presence, had told Madio that Mosè had obtained the blood in this manner; and that one day, as Mosè was on his way home from someplace, he had met a Christian child whom he abducted and brought in secrecy to his dwelling, killing him and draining the blood" (38).
On the other hand, Bona, in perfect accord with Sara, Maestro Tobias’s second wife, who came from Swabia and had lived in Marburg and the Tyrol, with Bella, Mosè da Würzburg’s daughter-in-law, who had married Mosè’s son Mayer (Meir) and knew how to write Yiddish, and Anna, Samuele da Nuremberg’s young daughter-in-law, remembered another child murder committed a few years before, in 1472 or 1473, also atTrent, committed by more or less the same people guilty in the Simon of Trent affair. This victim of this murder was a three-year old child, sold to Maestro Tobias by a beggar in the German-speaking region and brought to Trent. The child was killed during a collective ceremony in the antechamber of the synagogue, with the participation of the majority of the Jews living in the city; the blood being collected in a silver vase. At night, this same Tobias took charge of throwing the body of the child into the Adige (39). Sara, Maestro Tobias’s wife, also remembered having talk, in the house, of another homicide, committed at Trent in 1451 by Isacco and other Jews from Trent; however, she knew nothing of the details (40). Isacco was Maestro Tobias’s father-in-law, being the father of Tobias’s first wife, Anna, who had died, leaving Tobias a widower; Isacco is almost certainly identical with the money lender of the same name active at Trent in the first half of the 14th century (41).
There are, of course, no objective records of these ritual murder stories, eventful and cruel, with their horrible and repulsive connotations.
The defendants were capable of inventing accusations out of whole cloth to placate their jailers; to make them more believable, these stories might have caused the names of relatives or even distant acquaintances to emerge jumbled up from the mists of the past, from the localities of the defendants’ childhood or youth, or from localities in which they had lived for a while. It is impossible to believe that the ritual murders the same period and within the same geographical confines as those we have discussed so far, are any more reliable.
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NOTES TO CHAPTER FOUR
1. Giacobbe da Colonia was arrested under the accusation of having abducted the child while he was in Treviso, where he had stayed on his way from Piove di Sacco to Portobuffolè. He is almost certainly identical with the Yaakov b. Shimon Levi, who appears in Hebrew documents of the period (cfr. D. Nissim, Famiglie Rapa e Rapaport nell'Italia settentrionale, sec. XV-XVI . With an appendix on the origins of the Miscellanea Rotschild , in A. Piattelli and M. Silvera, authors, Minhat Yehuda. Saggi sul ebraismo italiano in memoria de Yehuda Nello Pavoncello, Rome, 2001, p. 188).
2. On the ritual murder at Portobuffolè, see, in particular, S.G. Radzik's documented monograph, Portobuffolè, Florence, 1984. In this regard, see the important compendium of texts in [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trento nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso , Trent, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, pp. 272-282, and furthermore A. Ciscato, Gli ebrei a Padova (1300- 1800) , Padua, 1901, pp. 136-137; B. Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice, Oxford, 1971, pp. 458-460; A. Esposito and D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di Trento, 1475-1478. I: I Processi del 1475; Padua, 1990, pp. 86-89.
3. At Portobuffolè in 1464, Chaim Israel Stein copied one manuscript of a text by Abraham Ibn Ezra (cfr. A. Freimann, Jewish Scribes in Medieval Italy , in M. Marx Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume, New York, 1950, p. 262, no. 129j). See also Nissim's arguments in Famiglia Rape e Rapaport , cit., pp. 178-181.
4. "In Piazza di San Marco in ognimano / piena di d'innumerabile persone / per veder arder quel ternario insano / che confirmando la sua confessione / brusaron vivi nell'Ebraico errore / del battesimo sprezzando l'oblazione" [“In the Piazza di San Marco, packed with innumerable people, they watched that maddened lunatic being burnt alive in the Jewish error, despising the offertory of baptism”] (Giorgio Sommariva da Verona, Martyrium Sebastiani Novelli trucidati a perfidis Judaeis, Treviso, Bernardinmo Celario de Luere, 12 May 1480, reported in [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 278); "[...] ligati sunt et circum circa ignis est accensus, quem sentientes, et se circum circa volventes, ab igne coquebantur et adurebantur, se lamentes et ululantes, quorum senior induratus alios socios ad martyrdom exhortabatur, legem suam enarrans" [“they were tied up and wood was piled up all around them. The wood was set light, which they perceived, and looked all around them while the wood cooked them and hardened them, with their laments and screams. The oldest one of them, tougher than his associates in martyrdom, exhorted them by reciting Jewish law”] in the Diarium parmense, in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores , vol. XXII Milan, Tipografia della Società Palatina, 1733, p. 345.
5. Cfr. A. Ottolenghi, Per il IV centenario della Scuola Canton. Notizie storiche sui templi veneziani di rito tedesco e su alcuni e su alcuni templi privati con cenni della vista ebraica nei secoli XVI-XIX , Venice, 1932, pp. 18-19.
6. In this regard, see F. Cogo, Vita e martirio del Beato Giovannino da Volpedo, Tortona, 1920; V. Legè, Il Borgo di Volpedo e il Beato Giovannino Costa , Venice, 1921, and, recently, I. Cammarata U. Rozzo, Il beato Giovannino patrono di Volpedo. Un fanciullo "martyr" alla fine del secolo XV , Volpedo, 1997.
7. Cfr. Cammarata and Rozzo, Il beato Giovannino patrono di Volpedo, cit., pp. 19-24.
8. Cfr. Sh. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, Jerusalem, 1982, vol. II, p. 873, no. 2103.
9. Y. Ha-Cohen, Sefer 'Emeq-Bakha (the Vale of Tears), with the Chronicle of the Anonymous Collector, by K. Almbladh, 1981, p. 59 (in Hebrew). It is important to note that, as observed by Isai Sonne, "Yoseph Ha-Cohen generally attributes the deterioration of relations between the Jewish communities in Italy with the surrounding Christian society to the deplorable conduct of the Ashkenazi Jews and their unscrupulousness. The attitude of Italian Jews towards Ashkenazi Jews was exactly similar to that of cultured and refined Italians towards barbarous and uncouth Germans [...]. The events and circumstances in which the responsibility of the Ashkenazi were ascertained and led to the saddest consequences for the entire Jewish community were covered up by Jewish historians in fear of encouraging anti-Semitism. At the most, they could be handed down to a small elect in whom one could trust" (cfr. I. Sonne, Da Paolo IV a Pio V, Jerusalem, 1954, pp. 185-186 [in Hebrew]. These observations had already been published in "Hebrew Union College Annual", XXII (1949), pp. 23-44.
10. Chronica Gestorum in partibus Lombardie et reliquis Italie, by G. Bonazzi, in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, vol. XXII, tome III, Città del Castello, 1904, p. 106. In this regard, see also Cammarata and Rozzo, Il beato Giovannino patrono di Volpedo, cit., p. 18. The few Jews in Cortemaggiore were linked with the larger community in Piacenza, Dal Monte di Pietà alla Cassa di Risparmio: l'esempio piacentino, in G. Boschiero and B. Molina, authors, Politiche del credito. Investimento consumo solidarietà, Asti, 2004, p. 348).
11. On the facts of Arena del Po in 1479, see in particular C. Guidetti, Pro Judaeis. Riflessioni e documenti . Turin, 1884, pp. 280-294, and above all Simonson, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit., vol. I, p. XXII, and vol. II, pp. 738-789, nos. 1794, 1868, 1877-1880, 1882-1884, 1888-1889, 1891-1892, 1895-1897.
12. Mosè da Bamberg, a German traveller staying in Angelo da Verona's dwelling, told the Trent judges hat he had been in the service of the Sacle, a money lender at Borgo San Giovanni, near Piacenza, and his wife, Potina. According to him, the Ashkenazi Jew had been accustomed to dissolve powdered blood, presumably that of a Christian child, in wine, during the Passover meal, pouring it from his silver chalice into the glasses of the guests. His wife Potina was said to have mixed the blood into the dough of the unleavened bread (cfr. G. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, Trent, 1902, vol. II, pp. 28-29). It should be noted that the name Sacle or Secle (Seckle), a rendering of the Hebrew Izchak (Isaac) was widespread among Jews from Frankfurt and Hessen (cfr. A. Beider, A Dictionary of Ashkenazi Given Names , Bergenfeld, N.J., 2001, p. 342).
13. Cfr. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit., vol. II, p. 784, no. 1888.
14. Cfr., Ibidem, vol. II, pp. 784-785, no. 1891.
15. The petition of the Jews to the Duke of Milan (19 May 1479), the original of which is still preserved in the archives of the Jewish community of Verona, was apparently published for the first time by the famous Marrano apologist Isac Cardoso at the end of the Seventeenth Century (D. De Castro Tartas, 1679), who occupies himself at length with the question of the ritual murders. In this regard, see the important analysis, although sometimes accompanied by inexact references, of Y.H. Yerushalmi, Dalla Corte di Spagna al Ghetto italiano , Milan, 1991. The document was published in extenso by Guidetti, Pro Judaeis, cit., pp. 289-294, and later by G.A. Zaviziano, Un raggio di luce. La Persecuzione degli ebrei nella storia. Riflessioni , Corfu, 1891, pp. 173-180 (doc. XVIIIbis). In this regard, as well as with regard to the identification of Corrado Guidetti with the Paduan Jew Giacomo Treves, believed to be pseudonym used by Guidetti, cfr. D. Nissim, La risposta di Isacco Vita Cantarini all'accusa di omicidio rituale di Trento (Padua 1670-1685), in "Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche", LXXIX (2000), pp. 829-835. References to the Jewish petition of the Duchy of Milan in 1479 are also found in V. Manzini, La superstizione omicida e i sacrifici umani , Padua, 1930, pp. 237-239, and in Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit. vol. II, pp. 788- 789.
16. Cfr. Guidetti, Pro Judaeis, cit. pp. 289-290; Zaviziano, Un raggio di luce, cit., p. 174.
17. Cfr. Guidetti, Pro Judaeis, p. 291; Zaviziano, Un raggio di luce, cit. p. 176.
18. Cfr. R. Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475. A Ritual Murder Trial , New Haven (Conn.), 1992, pp. 92-93; "If we construct a cultural geography of blood libel in the region, the location of ritual murder trials coincided with the boundary of German settlements in the Alpine Highlands". Concerning himself with the geography of trials for desecration of the host, Rubin (Gentile Tales. The Narrative Assault on the Late Medieval Jews , New Haven, Conn., 1999, pp. 190-195) reaches the same conclusions, stating that "our story deals with German-speaking regions".
19. "Nec novum videatur hanc pessimam rem ac nefarium scelus in civitate nostra (sc. Tridenti) hoc anno per impios Judeos esse perpetratum; cum longe crudeliora et atrociora retroactis temporibus in plerisque civitatibus et locis Germaniae et aliarum regionum, utpote Sveviae, Bavariae, Austriae, Stiriae, Rhenique ac Saxoniae, nec non Poloniae et Hungariae" (cfr. [Bonnelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit. pp. 65-66.
20. On the child murder of Lorenzino Sossio, later beatified, attributed to the Jews on the grounds of ritual murder, see, among others, Francesco Barbarano, Historia ecclestica della citta, territori e diocesei di Vicenza, Cristoforo Rosio, 1652, pp. 172-177; I. Scotton, Compendio della vita, martirio e miracoli del Beato Lorenzino da Valrovina , Venice, 1863; G. Chiuppani, Gli ebrei a Bassano, Bassano, 1907, pp. 73-76; G. Volli, Il beato Lorenzino da Marostica, presunta vittima d'un omicidio rituale, in "La Rassegna Mensile di Israel", XXXIV (1968), pp. 513-526, 564-569; M. Nardello, Il presunto martirio del beato Lorenzino da Marostica, in "Archivio Veneto" , CIII (1972), pp. 25-45; T. Caliò, Un omicidio rituale tra storia e leggenda. Il caso del beato Lorenzino da Marostica, in "Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religione", n.s., I (1995), no. 19, pp. 55-82.
21. "Pueri cadaver, cuius abscisum fuisse videtur praeputium, quia a Judaeis occisu fuerit" [“The boy’s body was seen to have had the foreskin cut off, as if he had been killed by the Jews”.]
22. Cfr. [Bonnelli], Dissertazioni apologetica, cit., pp. 246-255.
23. The information is derived from Sanudo, (I diarii, by R. Fulin et al, Venice, 1879-1903, columns 250-266, 283). In this regard, see also T. Calio, Il "puer a Judaeis necatus". Il ruolo del racconto agiografico nella diffusione dello stereotipo dell'omicidio rituale, in Le inquisizioni cristiane e gli ebrei , "Atti dei Convegni Lincei", CXCI (2003), p. 475.
24. Marcuccio moved to the Cittadella in Bassano after 1467 (cfr. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 38).
25. We know that in April 1492, the Consiglio di Bassano had unsuccessfully asked Venice for authorization to expel Marcucio from the City, revoking his permit. On these events, see Chiuppani, Gli ebrei a Bassano, cit., pp. 100-104.
26. For a serious investigation into the real motives for the expulsion of the Jews from Vicenz in 1486, see Scuro, Alcune notizie sulla presenza ebraica a Vicenza , cit. 27. In the ample, although tardy, bibliography on the martyrdom of Andrea of Rinn, see Ippolito Guarinoni, Triumph Cron Marter und Grabschaft des Heilig-Unschuldigen , Innsbruck, Michael Wagner, 1642; G.R. Schroubeck, Zur Frage der Historizitat des Andreas von Rinn, in "Fenster", XXXVIII (1988), pp. 3766-3774; XXXIX (1986), pp. 3845-3855; G. Kofler, La leggenda dell'omicidio rituale di Andrea Oxner di Rinn , in "Materiali di lavori", 1988, nn. 1-4, pp. 143-149; B. Freschacher, Anderl von Rinn; Ritualmordkult und Neuorientierung in Judenstein 1945-1995 ; Innsbruck, 1996; G.R. Schroubek, The Question of the Historicity of Andreas of Rinn, in Buttaroni e Musial, Ritual Murder , cit., pp. 159-180.
28. Cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 235-242.
29. Cfr. Zaviziano, Un raggio di luce, cit., pp. 115-157 (doc. XIV); C. Roth, The Ritual Murder Liber and the Jews. The Report by Cardinal Lorenzo Gangarelli on Ritual Murder , in S. Buttaroni and S. Musial, Ritual Murder Legend in European History, Cracow-Nuremberg- Frankfurt, 2003, pp. 211-223. Cardinal Ganganelli's report has now been republished by M. Introvigne, Cattolici, antisemitismo e sangue. Il mito dell'omicidio rituale , Milan, 2004, pp. 83-123. Otherwise, Introvigne's work is nothing other than an encyclopaedia of the problem, accompanied by a bibliography which has been only partially updated.
30. Cfr. Zaviziano, Un raggio di luce, pp. 144-147.
31. "Dum ipse Isaac staret in dicta Civitate Burmi [...] quadam die ante festum Paschae ipsorum Judaeorum, in quadam stuba magna, in qua aderant circa quadraginta Judaei, dicti Judaei omnes adjuverunt ad interficiendum Puerum Christianum" [“When Isaac was in the said city of Worms [...] a few days before the Jewish feast of Passover, in a large parlor, in the presence of about forty Jews, who helped kill the boy”].
(cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 144). See also Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, pp. 94-96; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., p. 91. It should be noted that in the halakhah, Hebraic ritual law, the minimum unit of measurement for foods, both solid and liquid, are the olive (zait), and the egg (bezah). Isacco's reference to the egg to quantify the amount of blood taken, which seemed so strange to Divina, should not surprise us.
32. "Quaedam mulier Christiana, nomine Elisabth dicta Paumghartnerin et quae multum praticabat in Domo Mohar praedicti, clandestine portavit tres Pueros Christianos dicto Mohar Judaeo, et quos tres Pueros sic portavit in tribus vicibus et diversis annis, quibus iste Joff stetit famulus Mohar sexdecim annis [...] et dictos Pueros sic portavit de nocte et illos tradebat dictor Mohar". The ritual of the murder and meal of blood was committed "in quadam Camera, qua tenebantur ligna, et quae apud stabulum dictae domus" (cfr. Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica , cit., pp. 142-143). On this case, see also Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., pp. 90-91.
33. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 91; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., p. 91.
34. "Dum ipse Moyses iret [..] ad quendam terram vocatam Franchort, quae est terra sub dominio Domini Marchionis de Brandenburg, una cum Salomon Hebraeo, cum applicuissent ad quoddam magnum nemus, ibi reperunt Salomonem et Jacob Hebraeos, et aliter nescit cognomina illorum [...] qui habebant quendam puerum, et aliter nescit cognomina illorum [...] qui habebant quendam puerum, quem jam interfecerant et jugulaverant [...] etiam habebant unum alium puerum, qui videbatur mortuus et jugulatus, et quod dicta duo corpora fuerunt projecta in preadictum flumen. Et qui etiam dixerant [...] quod ipse acceperant ipsos pueros in quadam Villa parva, in qua poterant esse quinque vel sex domus [...] et aliter nescit nomen dictae Villae" (cfr. Bonnelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 143-144). See also Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., pp. 89-90. It should be noted that Bonelli confuses Mosè da Bamberg, the author of the deposition, with Mosè da Ansbach, preceptor to Maestro Tobias' children. Po-Chia Hsia, for this part, erroneously stresses that the two "cacciatori di bambini" [child hunters] Salomone and Giacobbe, were both travel and destination companions of Mosè.
35. "Qui Salomon et Jacob dixerunt ipsi Moysi et Salomon, socius ipsius Moysi, quod ipsi Jacob et Salomon interfecerant dictos pueros causa habendi sanguinem et causa portandi illum sanguinem ad venendem et quod oportebat ita ipsos lucrari et ita vivere [...] et quod colligerunt sanguinem hoc modo: unuisquisque habebat suum flascum de ferro stagnato, qui habebat foramen, seu buchetum, multum latum ad magnitudinem unius pomi mediocritus grossitudinis [...] et Jacob et Salomon cum dictis flaschis colligebant sanguinem defluentem ex iugulatura per ipso facta in gutture dictorum Puerorum".
36. "Et cum fuisset elevatus et staret appensus, Moyses fuit interrogatus ut supra"
37. "In Paschate proxime praeterito fuit unus annus, dum ipse Wolfgangus esset Feltri, in Domo Abrahami Judaei, et loquetur cum Lazaro, fratre dicti Abrahame; idem Lazarus dixit sibi Wolfgango, quod Hebraei interfecerant quendam Puerum Christianum in loco Mestri, apud Venetias" (cfr. [Bonelli], Disssertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 141-142. See also Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 45; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., p. 97.
38. Deposition of Bona dated 11 March 1476, Vienna, Osterr. Nationalbibl., MS 5360, c. 189v (doc. in of D. Quaglioni, in D. Nissim, D. Quaglioni and O. Stock, author, Simonino 1475, Trento e gli ebrei, cit. vol. II, 2001, CD ROM). See also Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento , cit., vol. II, p. 46. The first news having reached us on the Jews of Masserano, apart from the Trent trials, dates back to approximately one century afterwards (cfr. R. Segre, The Jews in Piedmont Jerusalem, 1986, vol. I, p. 475, no. 1052). It should be noted that in January of 1459, a Jewish woman from Borgomanero, named Bona, had expressed the desire to convert to Christianity with her children (cfr. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit., vol. I, p. 270, no 579).
39. On this ritual murder, which is said to have been committed at Trent two or three years before that of Simon, see, in particular, Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento , cit., vol. II, pp. 47-53. Cfr. moreover Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., p. 112.
40. "Tobias dixit sibi Sarrae, quod ipse Isaac Hebreus habitor Tridenti et socer ipsius Tobiae, dixerat sibi Tobiae quod ipse Isaac, una cum certis aliis Judaeis interfecerant quendam puerum Christianu, jam tunc annis 24" (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 144). See moreover Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 46.
41. Cfr. Menestrina, Ebrei a Trento, cit., pp. 304-306.
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REVISION DATE SEPT. 14, 2007 ROSH HOSHANA, NIGHTFALL (5768)

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