"DOING THE FIG": OBSCENE RITUALS AND GESTURES
Lazzaro, Angelo da Verona’s servant, recalled that, as an introduction to the contemptuous commemoration of Christ’s Passion, enacted upon the body of the infant Simon, the zealous Samuele da Nuremberg had intended to prepare and incite those present with a mocking sermon ridiculing the Christian faith. In the improvised sermon, Jesus was described as being born of adultery, while Mary, a woman of notoriously easy morals, was said to have been impregnated during her menstrual period, against all the rules of propriety and custom (1).
While the whole theme of Jesus’s adulterous generation was not at all new, this was not because of any claim that the Virgin was impregnated during her menstrual period. In fact, this only appeared in a few versions of the Toledot Yeshu - the so-called "Hebraic counter- Gospels", written in the German-speaking territories between the 15th and 16th centuries. Samuele’s reference to the anti-Christian text containing the accusation that Christ was "a bastard conceived by an impure woman" (mamzer ben ha-niddah) was therefore chronologically somewhat premature and doubtlessly characteristic of the intolerant climate of a certain section of late medieval Ashkenazi Judaism (2). It is inconceivable to imagine that the naïve Lazzaro da Serravalle should have given free rein to his fantasy by inventing the anti-Christian thematic details contained in Samuele’s sermon. It is even less plausible to imagine that the Trent judges and inquisitors might have been expert connoisseurs of the various texts of the Toledot Yeshu.
A few years later, in 1488, the Jews of the Duchy of Milan, on trial for contempt of the Christian religion, were asked by the judges whether or not they actually referred to Jesus as a bastard and the son of a menstruating woman. In particular, they demanded whether any expressions of this kind, which originated in the texts of the Toledot Yeshu, appeared in a liturgical composition beginning with the words "ani, anì ha-medabber ("It is I, I who speak..."), and in the form of the secondary feasts
of the German rite (3). Many of the defendants responded in the affirmative and admitted that, in that prayer, Jesus was indeed referred to as having been "born of a woman having her menstrual period", and "born of a polluted woman, that is, one who was menstruating". In fact, the oldest versions of the Ashkenazi handbook of prayers for ceremonial solemnities contains a commemorative elegy for the martyrs, massacre victims and suicides in sanctification of God’s name, entitled ani, ani ha-medabber, "It is I, I who speak....", attributed to Rabbi Efraim di Isacco da Regensburg, and intended for recital during the Fast of Expiation (Kippur). The elegy contains an explicit reference to Jesus as "conceived of a menstruating woman", in conformity with a motif which was widespread in the German versions of the Toledot Yeshu (4).
Not surprisingly, this line of invective rapidly gained ground in the world of Ashkenazi Judaism, both in Germany and in the more or less recently settled regions of sub-Alpine Italy.
Elena was the widow of Raffaele Fritschke, analogous to the German family name Fridman, rendered into Italian as Freschi or Frigiis (5).
Her husband, a famous physician and rabbi from Austria or Bohemia, had become one of the most influential and esteemed personages of the Jewish community of the German rite of Padua by the end of the 15th century and the early 16th century. His death is thought to have occurred in the city of Venice around 1540. A few years later, Raffaele and Elena’s son, Lazzaro Freschi, later a friend and esteemed colleague of Andreas Vesalius, graduated with brilliant medical credentials from the Studio di Padova, and was invited to occupy the chair of surgery and anatomy in that university, accepting the job and occupying that position from 1537 until 1544. No later than 1547, Maestro Lazzaro Freschi moved to the old ghetto of Venice, together with his mother, and was admitted as a member of the local Ashkenazi community.
A dramatic turning point came a few years later, before the end of 1549, when Lazzaro, physician son of Rabi Raffaele Fritschke, converted to Christianity for reasons unknown. To avoid doing things by half, the Paduan physician also persuaded his mother Elena to visit the baptismal font and embrace the religion of Christ. From that moment on, Lazzaro, now known as Giovanni Battista Freschi Olivi, became a severe critic of his former religion and an open accuser of the Jewish world from which he originated. Thanks to his zealous and indefatigable polemical efforts,
the Talmud was placed on the Index and finally burnt by the public hangman in the Piazza San Marco on 21 October 1553 by decision of the Council of Ten (6).
But while Giovanni Battista Freschi Olivi gave all outward signs of having enthusiastically embraced the Christian religion, his aged mother Elena, who must have been at least seventy years old, proved herself rather less convinced of the wisdom of the step taken. The virulently anti-Christian religious upbringing which she had received during her year in the Ashkenazi environment had left an indelible imprint and continued to influence her spontaneous mental attitudes, even after her conversion.
In 1555, Elena was brought before the Holy Office of Venice under the accusation of having publicly given vent to blasphemous expressions regarding Christianity. Only the authoritative intervention of her son, who was compelled to plead his mother’s mental infirmity for purposes of defense, sufficed to get her out of trouble (7). One Sunday in March of that year, Elena, while attending Mass in the Church of San Marcuola, just as the priest was reciting the Credo, had been unable to refrain from mockery, expressing her outrageous contempt with malevolent terms of speech. Jesus, she alleged, was not conceived by the Virgin Mary by the virtue of the Holy Spirit at all, but was the bastard son of a whore.
"Last Sunday (17 March 1555) [...] finding herself at the said Mass (in the Church of San Marcilian) [...] the mother of meser Zuan Baptista, a Hebrew physician having become a Christian, just as the priest was saying the Credo: Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine et homo factus est , said the following, or similar, words: 'You’re lying through your teeth. Jesus was the bastard born of a whore'" (8).
The anti-Christian sentiments expressed through the texts of the Toledot Yeshu and assimilated by the old Paduan Jewish woman thus found an uncontrollable outlet, in church, in an automatic and perhaps involuntary reflex. Poor Elena’s basic personality was still Jewish and Ashkenazi, and would probably remain so forever afterward.
A few years later, two other Ashkenazi Jews were tried by the Inquisition of Venice for insulting the Christian faith, and once again, the accusation turned on the allegation of Jesus’ spurious birth as the son of a menstruating woman. Aron and Asser (Asher, Anselmo) were two aimless and unaccomplished youths having arrived in the ghetto of Venice around 1563, the one from
Prague and the other from Poland. They later decided to convert to Christianity and enter the Casa dei Catecumeni [Church institution for the conversion of Jews and infidels] to try to make ends meet by means of a self-interested and calculated baptism. But they obviously proved to be rather poorly convinced of the basics of the Christian religion, since they were indicted by the Holy Office for uttering unspeakable insults against Jesus and the Virgin Mary (9). The two Ashkenazi youths appeared to have been nurtured upon massive doses of the anti-Christian motifs characteristic of the Toledot Yeshu.
"Esso (Asser) began to say that the Lord God was a bastard son of a whore, saying in the Hebrew language that the Lord God was engendered while the Madonna was having her menstrual period, and, what is even more insulting, saying mamzer barbanid (10), which means what I said above [...] He uttered opprobrious words offensive to the Divine Majesty and the glorious Virgin Mary, asserting that Christ was a bastard born by carnal sin when the Madonna Virgin Mary was having her menstrual period" (11).
Almost a century had passed since the Trent trials and the polemical motifs of Samuele da Nuremberg’s sermon over the corpse of little Simon-Jesus, taken from the Toledot Yeshu -- which had now become a classical text -- were still alive and well in the Ashkenazi environment of the valleys of the Loire and the Rhône, the Rhine and Danube, the Elba and the Vistula, and all communities having migrated down from the other side of the Alps to the plains of the Po and the gulf of Venice.
Another outrageous assertion about the Christian religion very widespread among Jews of German origin was based on the Talmudic dictum that Jesus was to suffer punishment in the coming world, condemned to immersion in "boiling excrement" (12). The Jewish bankers of the Duchy of Milan accused of contempt for the Christian faith in 1488 were asked whether their texts claimed that Jesus was condemned to the pains of Hell and placed in a pot full of excrement. Salomone Galli da Brescello, a Jew from Vigevano, had no difficulty in admitting that he had indeed read that malodorous prophecy in a little notebook which passed through his hands in Rome during the Pontificate of Sixtus IV (13) . Salomone, a Jew from Como, and Isacco da Parma, a resident of Castelnuovo Scrivia, confirmed that they, too, were aware of the Hebraic texts asserting that Jesus, in the future world, was destined to be immersed in a bath of steaming feces ("Jesus the Nazarene [...] he is being punished in excrement, in boiling shit") (14).
It should be noted in this regard that the Hebraic sources refer to a significant and revealing episode linked to the sanguinary massacre of the Jewish community at Magonza in 1096. On that occasion, David, son of Netanel, the person responsible for the synagogue services (gabbay), is said to have turned to the Crusaders about to kill him cruelly, wishing them the same fate as Jesus, "punished by immersion in boiling excrement" (15). When it came to anti-Christian polemic, Ashkenzi Jews didn’t beat around the bush, and the tragic events of which they were the victims served as a justification for an uncompromising hatred, verbally insulting and violent in action, at least whenever possible.
On the other hand, the Christians, too, loved the idea of the pious Jew, the scrupulous observers of the Law, immersed up to the neck in baths of excrement, as a well-deserved punishment for their arrogant blindness. Friar Luisi Maria Benetelli of Venice, lecturer in Hebrew at Padua and later at Venice, reported, with ill-concealed satisfaction, a malodorous anecdote of ancient origin describing a Jew, devote observer of the Sabbath, compelled to pass the week-end among the miasmas of a filthy cesspool due to his obtuse religiosity.
"Mr. Salamone, having fallen into the bog of a ditch, so as not to violate the feast day of the Sabbath, rejected the charity of a Christian who offered to pull him out. Sabbath sancta colo, de stercore surgere nolo [I must adhere to the Sabbath, and do not wish to be pulled out of the shit]. The following day, the same good man passed by again, and the Jew beseeched him for assistance in getting out of the ditch, but the Christian excused himself saying, 'Yesterday was your feast day, today is mine', and left him there to enjoy that aromatic stench all Sunday. Sabbatha nostra quidem Salomn celebrabis ibidem " (16).
For many, the synagogue, particularly, during the most significant moments of the liturgy, was the most suitable place to confer solemnity and sacral effectiveness upon anathemas, invective and contempt, often accompanied by the dramatic exhibition of aggressive and mocking gestures. One of the most important days of the Jewish calendar among the Jews of the German territories during the Middle Ages was the feast of Pesach, when they opened the doors of the holy Ark to extract the rolls of the Law. It was then, in the context of prayers for the festivity, that they cursed the Christians in stentorian voices, "uttering imprecations to which one cannot listen" (17). But the insults and the contempt were also pronounced by the litigious faithful, who had, or
who considered themselves to have, reciprocally outstanding accounts to settle. In the early 16th century, the rabbi Jechiel Trabot lamented the widespread wickedness of taking advantage of the ceremonies of the synagogue to engage in furious verbal disputes, which sometimes concluded with recourse to fisticuffs. These violent disputes, accompanied by insults and curses, usually occurred "with the Seder open", that is, when the rolls of the Law were exhibited and placed, open, upon the almemor for reading (18).
The [Ahkenazi] Jews possessed a vast range and picturesque catalogue of anathemas against Jesus and the Christians, generally reinforced by appropriate gestures of mockery and contempt, often taking the form of obscene and scurrilous jests. Offensive and obscene gestures, ritualized and sanctified by the holy temple in which they were performed, constituted an effective instrument of communication, directed at their own community, to request and obtain the anticipated and complacent approval, or at least silent complicity. The insults and scurrilous gestures most frequently resorted to [by Jews] during the Middle Ages, right down to the end of the early modern age, include the rhythmic stamping of the feet to create an ear-splitting din intended to drown out any mention of the memory or even the very voice of the adversary; the act of sticking out the tongue and/or making faces, the of spitting in the face, the act of uncovering the buttocks and the gesture of "doing the fig". The latter, considered a particularly insulting gesture of contempt, was performed by displaying the hands with the thumb tightly inserted between the index and middle fingers, a symbolic allusion to the female genital organ during the act of copulation (19).
When, in the weekly readings of the Pentateuch, they reached the fragment relating to the Amalek (Deut. 25: 17-19), considered Israel’s implacable enemy and persecutor par excellence throughout history, the participants in the liturgy of the synagogue stamped their feet violently, accompanied by a deafening noise to drown out any mention of their name. This often occurred during the recitation of the meghillah , the roll of Esther, during the feast of Purim, at every mention of Haman, Assuerus’s cruel minister, inventor of the plan to exterminate the Jewish people in the land of Persia. The hubbub was also renewed when at any mention of Zeresh, Haman’s faithful consort, and his numerous children, in the liturgical text. In this connection, Leon da Modena recalled that "some people, at the mention of Haman’s name, beat on the benches of the synagogue as a sign that they were cursing him", a custom the existence of which was confirmed by the convert Giulio Morosini, who stated that, at Venice, the Jews pounded violently on the flat surfaces of their wooden benches in the synagogue as a sign of execration of
the hated enemy, "pound on the benches of the synagogue with all their strength as a sign of excommunication, saying in a loud voice, ‘May his name be blotted out’, and ‘May the name of the impious putrefy’” (20).
One of the most widespread prayers of the Jewish ritualistic formulary was doubtlessly the one beginning with the words 'Alenu leshabbeach ("We must praise the Lord"), which was to be recited several times a day and during feasts and solemnities. This text, sometimes called a sort of “Credo of Judaism”, not surprisingly contained expressions particularly critical of Jesus and Christianity. Ecclesiastical censure therefore dealt severely with this prayer, erasing all polemical mention of the faith in Christ from the manuscripts and prohibiting any printing of the full text. Yet, nonetheless, during the persecutions of the Middle Ages, it was precisely this prayer which was most frequently shouted at their persecutors by Jews when the time case to sacrifice their lives to God.
In the tradition of the German Jews, when the phrase "So that they (the Christians) may prostrate themselves and turn their prayers to vanity and nullity, to a God which is not the Savior" it was the custom to perform gestures of reproof and contempt, such as stamping the feet, shaking the head or jumping up and down on the ground (21). Giulio Morosini reported that, even in his time, when the Jews of Venice recited the liturgical hymn 'Alenu le-shabbeacuh, which he described as "contumelious against Christ and Christians [...] some attest that, when saying these words, they are accustomed to show abomination by spitting" (22). Insulting and scurrilous gestures and obscene acts, even, and most particularly, if performed within the holy confines of the synagogue, lost their negative connotations and served to underline and stress their passionate hatred and implacable contempt.
The Sabbath right after little Simon’s murder, when the child’s body was placed on the almemor, the Jews of Trent, gathered in the synagogue, abandoned themselves to excessive gestures absolutely without inhibition or restraint. According to the deposition of Angelo da Verona’s servant, Lazzaro, Samuele da Nuremberg, after concluding his fiery anti-Christian sermon against Jesus and His Mother, rushed up to the almemor, and, after “doing the fig”, slapped the boy in the face and spat on him. Not to be outdone, Angelo de Verona imitated these outrageous gestures, spitting and slapping the corpse, while Mosè "the Old Man" of Würzburg “did the fig”, mockingly showing his teeth, while Maestro Tobias allowed himself to be carried away in the performance of other acts of violence, with no shortage of slapping and spitting.
This scandalous spectacle was crowned by the other participants, led by Isacco, Angelo’s cook, and Mosè da Bamberg, the traveler, Lazzaro and Israel Wolfgang, the painter, and Israel, Samuele’s son, who, in addition to “doing the fig” like the others, stuck out his tongue and made faces. For their part, Joav da Ansbach, Maestro Tobias’s scullery boy, had no hesitation in performing obscene gestures, and, coarsely raising his caftan, displayed his buttocks [and genitals] shamelessly, a blasphemous act sometimes reserved solely for the passing of holy processions (23). Joav himself, in his confession, added that he had bitten the child's ear in an attempt to imitate or outdo Samuele da Nurmberg (24). Anna da Montagana, the latter’s daughter-in-law, confirmed that she had indeed been present at this unedifying scene (25).
Bella, wife of Mayer, son of Mosè of Würzburg, recalled that she had been present at the exhibition of similar insulting gestures, always at Trent, three or four years earlier, on the occasion of another child murder, also committed in Samuele's house. In this case as well, the outrageous ritual had been performed in the synagogue during the hour of prayer (26). For his part, Israel Wolfgang described the details of the 1467 ritual murder at Regensburg in which he claimed to have participated personally, stating that "the same insulting acts as those at Trent, in Samuele’s house”, were performed in Sayer’s stiebel [parlor] in the presence of the child’s body [as in 1467] (27).
Giovanni Hinderbach summarized the Trent defendants’ depositions relating to the scene of the outrageous acts performed in the synagogue in a letter sent to Innsbruck in the fall of 1475, addressed to the orator of the Republic of Venice before Sigismundo, Archduke of Austria, written in a kind of Italian which was unusual for him and somewhat crude:
"The said Jews, or some of them, the said body having been placed on the almemor, said the following, or similar words, in the Hebrew language: 'This be in contempt and shame of our enemies', referring to us Christians. Quite a few others ‘did the fig’ in the eyes of the corpse, while others raised their hands to heaven and stamped their feet on the ground, while others spat in the face of the said body, saying these other words: 'Go to the God of Jesus, your God, and Mary, may she help you; pray to her to free you, and may she rescue you from our hands'" (28).
The bishop of Trent was either suffering from a memory lapse or was committing a more or less intentional error here, because the Jews could not have defied Jesus and the Madonna to come to the assistance of the poor child on that occasion. In fact, in their eyes,
the boy lying on the almemor and the Crucified Christ were one and the same person. Simon did not exist -- if he had ever existed – and, in his place, they saw the Talui, Jesus the hanged, and the Teluiah, the hanged or crucified woman, as Mary was called in an extemporaneous Hebraic neologism. To them, he was the Christ, and whoever had engendered Him -- the detestable embodiments of Christianity, responsible for their miserable Diaspora, their bloody persecutions and forced conversions. Almost trance-like, they cursed and swore, performed contemptuous and obscene gestures, each one recalling tragic family memories and the many sufferings of those who, in their eyes, had embraced the cross as an offensive weapon.
The indignities heaped upon this innocent, sacrificed child in some ways resembled the Cabalistic rite of the kapparot ("The [Fast of] Expiation"), an established custom among German Jews on the eve of the solemn fast of Kippur. On that occasion, young white free-range roosters were whirled around the head of the sinner to assume the sinner’s transgressions. The roosters were later sacrificed, taking punishment upon themselves on behalf of the guilty-minded transgressors (29). This ritual was intended to bring about the symbolic transfer of a person’s sins onto an animal, which was then sacrificed, serving a similar function to that of the expiatory goat [scapegoat]. Where the cock assumed the guilt of the entire community, the rooster of the cabbalistic, magical kapparot served as a receptacle for the sins of the individual, erased through the killing of the innocent bird. The custom of the kapparot, widespread among the Ashkenazi Jews of Venice, was vividly described, as usual, by Samuele Nahmias, alias Giulio Morosini.
"All the males and females in the house go out and look for white chickens: the men look for a white rooster, while the women look for a white hen, and then they whirl these chickens around their heads several times, saying these words [...] 'This be in exchange for myself, may this take my place, this be my expiation, may this bird go to its death while I go on living' After the ceremony, they butcher the birds and eat them, and then they give some of the meat to some poor person, in charity, in the belief that if God had condemned any of them to death, he would now have to settle for the rooster or hen in exchange [...]. They all practice this ritual, particularly in the Levant and in Germany" (30).
Once again, at the beginning of the 18th century, the Minorite friar Luigi Maria Benetelli severely censured those Jews of Venice, presumably belonging to the German community, who unperturbedly maintained the custom of the kapparot on the eve of the
Fast of Expiation. According to him, these Jews intended to transfer the ballast of their own sins onto the white roosters, condemned to be sacrificed, while irreverently imitating the Passion of Christ.
"Many of you, on that day, dress in white and search for a white rooster without a single reddish feather (since red is the color of sin), and, clutching it by the neck and whirling it around your heads three times, pray that the rooster may expiate their sins; they torment the rooster by pulling its neck, they butcher it, throw it violently on the ground, and finally, they roast it; denoting, by means of the first torment, that they themselves deserve to be strangled; by means of the second torment, that they themselves deserve to be killed with a noose; in the third, that they themselves deserve to be stoned; and in the fourth, that they themselves deserve to be burnt for their sins. Not all (and for this reason, I said ‘many’) practice this ceremony even today. To me, it is enough that many of them, although unintentionally, admit, in fact, that the Messiah, which is white for its divinity and red for Humanity, should expiate sin" (31).
Similarly, as with the kapparot, in the case of the Christian child, his crucifixion transforms the child into Jesus and into Christianity, symbolically allowing the community to savor that vengeance against the enemies of Israel which is a necessary, although insufficient, preamble to their final redemption. The crescendo of insults and contemptuous gestures in front of the almemor of the synagogue was not, paradoxically, directed against the innocent boy, but rather, against Jesus, "the hanged one", whom the boy personified. Whether by ‘doing the fig’, spitting on the ground, grinding their teeth or stamping their feet, all the participants in the spectacular representation, alive and charged with tension, repeated the Hebrew wish, ken ikkaretu kol oyevecha, which means, "thus may our enemies be consumed" (32).
The women also had their role to play in the ritual of vilification, and their role was not one of secondary importance. Their enthusiastic participation in the display of verbal and gestural contempt during the functions of the synagogue was well known to everyone and caused no surprise. Rabbi Azriel Diena, in a ritual response sent to the heads of the Jewish community of Modena in the month of November 1534, censured the bad habits of the women, who, in the synagogue, as well as on the Sabbath and during the festivities, "when the solemn moment arrives in which the rolls of the Torah were extracted from the Ark, they rise up, as if they were infuriated, launching a barrage of insults and curses against all those whom they hated" (33). Beniamin Slonik, rabbi of Grodno in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in his manual of honest female behavior in the Ashkenazi communities, which was translated into Italian several times, attempted,
in an effort to teach them to restrain themselves and cool their burning ardor, to explain the predisposition of Jewish women to imprecate and fling endless anathemas. According to the scholarly Lithuanian, the women suddenly restrained themselves "when they curse with kalalot (anathemas), which the women are very accustomed to doing, because they cannot revenge themselves physically due to their lack of strength, and start to curse and swear at all other persons who have displeased them in some way" (34).
Even the Jewish chronicles of the Crusades, which exalted the heroism and readiness for martyrdom of German Jewish women, stressed the manner in which they disdainfully rejected "conversion to the faith of the crucified bastard (talui mamzer)" and, showing praiseworthy courage and surprising temerity, did not hesitate to shout insults and curses at their Christian aggressors" (35).
Bella, the wife of Mayer and daughter-in-law of Mosè of Würzburg, in her deposition dated 6 March 1476, recalled the women’s active participation in the contemptuous ritual allegedly performed in the synagogue of Trent during the child murder committed the year before.
The same Bella, together with Brunetta, Samuele of Nuremberg’s wife, and Anna, his daughter-in-law, Brünnlein, Angelo da Verona’s mother, Anna, Maestro Tobias's first wife, now deceased, all appeared at the threshold of the synagogue during the ceremonies to see the child’s body, which lay stretched out on the almemor. They then enthusiastically joined the ritual of imprecations, spontaneously begun by the men, waving their arms and shaking their heads as a sign of censure and spitting on the ground (36).
These acts were accompanied by the ever-present scurrilous gesture of “doing the fig”, which was exalted and almost sanctified by the fact that it was being performed in a place of worship, whether a synagogue or a church. It is not, therefore, surprising that the display of those contemptuous gestures was one of the charges brought by the Holy Office of Venice against the elderly Elena Freschi (Fritschke), survivor of a poorly digested conversion to Christianity. According to the testimony of the Venetian patriarch Donna Paola Marcello, in fact, that Sunday, during Mass in the church of San Marcuola, just as the priest had started reciting the Credo, the arrogant Paduan convert "got very angry and made ugly faces and said bad words, and, among other things, I heard her say: 'You’re lying through your teeth' . And I saw her ‘do the fig’ towards the altar
where the priest was saying Mass (37). The clash of religions therefore occurred on several different levels simultaneously, passing from ideological diatribe, with scholarly and religious features, to sneering and curses, accompanied by codified gestures of proven and obvious effectiveness, with obscene and insolent meanings.
NOTES TO CHAPTER FOURTEEN
1. "Samuel fecit quandam predicationem et dixit non esse verum quod lesus Christus fuisset ex vergine natus, sed quod eius mater, videlicet beata virgo Maria, fuerat meretrix et adultera et Christus ex adultera natus et quod fuerat exginta tempore quo menstrua patiebatur" [“Samuele declared that it was not true that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, but that His mother, i.e., the Virgin Mary, was a whore and an adulteress and that Christ was born of an adulteress and that He was conceived while she was having her menstrual period”] (Archivio di Stato di Trento, Archivio Principesco Arcivescovile, sez.lat., capsa 69, n. 163).
2. In this regard, see R. Di Segni, Due nuove fonti sulle "Toledot Jeshu", in "La Rassegna Mensile di Israel", LV (1989), pp. 131-132. The author stresses that "the importance of the information inferred from the Trent trial, which, for the moment, it is the oldest source which explicitly considers Jesus to be the son of a menstruating woman” and records “worthy of note” the “German origin of the narrator, which could cause one to assume that the information is of the same origin as well”. It seems implicit that Riccardo Di Segni does not consider the tale of Samuele of Nuremberg’s anti-Christian sermon as the fruit of a suggestive pressures of the Trent judges upon the accused, but he places it in relationship with the reasons for the anti-Christian polemic present in contemporary Ashkenazi Judaism with peculiar sociocultural characteristics. On the story of Jesus the "bastard, son of a menstruating woman" in the Toledot Yeshu and on its importance, see Id., Il Vangelo del Ghetto. Le "storie di Gesù": leggende e documenti della tradizione medievale ebraica, Rome, 1985, pp. 120-123.
3. The defendants were required to respond in relation to the "verba scripta in dicto libro Mazor (recte: Machazor, the liturgical form for the feasts) sibi ostensa in capitulo quod incipit: Anni, anni amezaber (recte: anì, anìha-medabber), videlicet in lingua latina: Io sonno quello che parla" (cfr. A. Antoniazzi Villa, Un processo contro gli ebrei nella Milano del 1488, Milan, 1986, pp. 132-135).
4. Machazor le-yamim noraim le-fì minhage' bene' Ashkenaz ("Handbook of solemnities according to the custom of the German Jews"). II: Yom Kippur , by E.D. Goldshmidt, Jerusalem, 1970, pp. 555-557.
5. On the Ashkenazi name Frishke, Fritschke, Frits, Fritse, Fridman, rendered into Italian as “Freschi” or “de Frigiis”. See A. Beider, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names , Bergenfield (N.J.), 2001, p. 315.
6. On the personage of Maestro Lazzaro di Raffaele Freschi, his conversion to Christianity and his anti-Jewish activity at Venice, see S. Franco, Ricerche su Lazzaro ebreo de Frigeis, medico insigne ed amico di Andre Vesal, in "La Rassegna Mensile di Israel", XV (1949), pp. 495-515; F. Piovan, Nuovi documenti sul medico ebreo Lazzaro "de Frigeis", collaboratore di Andrea Vesalio, in "Quaderni per la storia dell'Università di Padova", XXI (1988), pp. 67-74; D. Carpi, Alcune nuove considerazioni su Lazzaro di Raphael de Frigiis, in "Quaderni per la storia dell'Università di Padova", XXX (1997), pp. 218-225.
7. The trial of the Holy Office at Elena Freschi Olivi is transcribed by P.C. loly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti. I: 1548-1560, Florence, 1980, pp. 51-52, 151-224. On this case, see also B. Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice (1550- 1670), Oxford, 1983, pp. 282-289.
8. Cfr. loly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti, cit., voI. I, p. 152.
9. Il processo ad Aron e Asser dinanzi all'Inquisizione di Venezia è segnalato e trascritto da P.C. loly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti. II: 1561-1570, Florence, 1982, pp. 17-19,31-48. In this regard, see also Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice , cit., pp. 296-297.
10. The Hebrew expression mamzer barbanid is an obvious corruption of mamzer bar ha-niddah, "bastard son of a menstruating woman", and not as maintained by loly Zorattini, “mamzer barchanit” (?), "turncoat bastard, deserter" (cfr. loly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti, cit., voI. II, p. 33).
11. Cfr. ibidem, pp. 33, 46.
12. Babylonian Talmud, Ghittin, c. 57a.
13. "Interrogatus si dicunt lesum Christum damnatum est in inferno et ibi positum est in vase uno pieno excrementre et si habent predicta scripta in libris eorum vel aliis scripturis, respondit et dicit quod semel in civitate Romana et tempore papis Sisti audivit predicta verba et vidit predicta in uno quinterneto et verba ea legit" [“In reply to the question of whether it is said that Jesus Christ is in hell and was placed in a vase full of excrement there and whether such words appeared in their books or other scriptures, he answered and said that he had read the aforementioned words in Rome, in a booklet during the reign of Pope Sixtus”] (cfr. Antoniazzi Villa, Un processo contro gli ebrei nella Milano del 1488 , cit., p. 102).
14. Salomone da Como stated "quod comprehendere ipsius quod (Iesu) sit iudicatus in excrementre calido" [“that he understood that (Jesus) was being punished in hot excrement”](cfr. ibidem, pp. 112-114).
15. Cfr. A.M. Haberman, Sefer ghezerot Ashkenaz we-Zarf at ("Book of the Persecutions in Germany and France"), Jerusalem, 1971, p. 36.
16. Luigi Maria Benetelli, Le saette di Gionata scagliate a favor degli Ebrei, Venice, Antonio Bortoli, 1703, p. 410.
17. In this regard, see S. Krauss, Imprecation against the Minim in the Synagogue, in "The Jewish Quarterly Review", IX (1897), pp. 515- 517.
18. In this regard, see Y. Boksenboim in Azriel Diena, Sheelot w-teshuvot. Responsa, by Y. Boksenboim, Tel Aviv, 1977, voI. I, p. 12 note 5, and, more recently, R. Weinstein, Marriage Rituals Italian Style. A Historical Anthropological Perspective on Early Italian Jews, Leyden, 2004, pp. 225-226.
19. In this regard, see P. Burke, Insulti e bestemmie, in Id., Scene di vita quotidiana nell'Italia moderna, Bari, 1988, pp. 118-138; Id., L'art de l'insulte en Italie au XVIe et XVIIe siècle , in J. Delumeau, Injures et blasphèmes, Paris, 1989, pp. 249-261.
20. Leon da Modena, Historia de' riti hebraici, Venice, Gio. Calleoni, 1638, pp. 80-81; Giulio Morosini, Derekh Emunah. Via della fede mostrata agli ebrei , Roma, Propaganda Fide, 1683, p. 836. On gestural language in Jewish liturgy, see, recently, U. Ehrlich, The Non-Verbal Language of Jewish Prayer , Jerusalem, 1999 (in Hebrew).
21. On the expressions and anti-Christian meanings of the hymn 'Alenu le-shabbeach, see, most recently, I.J. Yuval’s exhaustive treatment in "Two Nations in Your Womb". Perceptions of Jews and Christians , Tel Aviv, 2000, pp. 206-216 (in Hebrew).
22 Morosini, Derekh Emunah. Via della fede mostrata agli ebrei, cit., pp. 277 -278.
23 "Samuel stans apud Almemor coepit facere ficas in faciem pueri et illud colaphis caedere et in faciem expuere. Moyses antiquus similiter faciebat ficas, quas dum sic faceret, ostendebat dentes, irridendo et Angelus expuendo in faciem pueri, illud colaphis caedebat. Tobias cum manu sinistra coepit capillos pueri et cum caput eiusdem pueri quateret super Almemor, tenendo capillos per manum cum alia manu pluries colaphizavit faciem pueri, in illamque expuit. Et Israel, filius Samuelis, tenendo os apertum, emittebat linguam et fecit ficas et Ioff, elevatis pannis, ostendit posteriora et pudibunda [displayed his buttocks and genitals], et Isaac, coquus Angeli, similiter fecit ficas et colaphis cecidit puerum. Et Moyses forensis fecit ficas, et Israel pietor similiter fecit ficas et similiter omnes alii Judaei ibi adstantes fecerunt aliquos actus illusorios [...] et Lazarus fecit ficas et semel cum manu aperto percussit faciem pueri et per capillos cepit puerum et eius caput quassavit". [Approximately: “Samuele, standing near the altar, started to ‘do the fig’ in the boy’s face and then he started to strike him and spit in his face. Moses the Old Man also ‘did the fig’, and, while he was doing it, he showed his teeth, grimacing, and Angelo spat in the boy’s face, then started striking him. Tobias, with his left hand, held the boy by the hair, holding his hair in his left hand, and with the other hand he started to strike the boy in the face, on the altar, over and over again, and to spit in his face. And Israel, Samuele’s son, opened his mouth, stuck out his tongue, ‘did the fig’ and Joff, raising his hem, displayed his buttocks and genitals [at least, if we assume that “pudibunda” = “filled with shame”, feminine nominative or ablative singular, is an obvious translation error for “pudenda” = “genitals”, neuter accusative plural; otherwise the sentence makes no sense, either grammatically or in context], and Isacco, Angelo’s cook, also ‘did the fig’ and struck the boy. And Moses did the fig in front of everybody and Israel piously did the same, and so did all the other Jews who were there performed acts of mockery […] and Lazarus ‘did the fig’ and struck the boy in the face and held the boy by the hair and shook his head violently”] Deposition of Lazzaro da Serravalle dated 20 November 1475 (cfr. [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trento nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso, Trent, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, p. 119). Peter Burke (Insulti e bestemmie, cit., p. 127) maintains that the public exhibition of the private parts was a classical gesture of contempt during the passage of Christ in a procession.
24. "Quo puero sic stante, Samuel cum dentibus momordit aurem dicti corporis et idem Joff cepit aurem praedicti corporis illam stringendo cum dentibus" [Approximately: “The boy being on the altar, Samuele bit the corpse on the ear with his teeth and Joff did the same, fastening his teeth tightly”] (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 119).
25. "Die sequenti post festum Paschae (Anna) vidit corpus illius extensum super Almemore et vidit in Synagoga omnes infrascriptos [...] qui colaphis caeciderunt dictum puerum" [“The day after Easter (Anna) saw the body lying on the altar and saw all the above mentioned persons in the synagogue [...] who began to beat the above mentioned boy”] (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 121).
26. "Modo possunt esse anni tres vel quatuor et nescit dicere praecise quot anni, fuit interfectus alius puer in domo Samuelis, qui quadam die in vigilia tunc Paschae ipsorum Judaeorum de sero fuit portatus per Tobiam in domum Samuelis [...] Et dicit quod postea die sequenti [...] ipsa Bella vidit corpus dicti pueri in Synagoga prius prandium, hora quo celebrantur officia; quo corpore sic stante omnes suprascripti Judaei et etiam alii Judaei advenae, qui tunc se repererunt in Civitate Tridenti, illuserunt contra corpus dicti pueri [...] illudendo et dicendo illamet verba: Tolle, suspensus, Tluyo, suspensa" (cfr. ibidem, pp. 121-122).
27. "Qui omnes, corpore stante super Almemore, illuserunt in dictum corpus, faciendo quasi easdem illusiones, pro ut factum fuit Tridenti in domo Samuelis" [“Everybody ridiculed the body lying on the altar, making jokes....” (cfr. ibidem, p. 141).
28. The text of Hinderbach’s letter is reproduced in F. Ghetta, Fra Bernardino Tomitano da Feltre e gli ebrei di Trento nel 1475, in "Civis", suppl. 2 (1986), pp. 129-177.
29. The formula recited in the act of whirling the white chickens around the head is as follows: "This is instead of me, it is in my place, this is for my expiation (kapparah); this cock shall go to its death while I will proceed towards a happy life with all Israel. Amen". On the rite of the kapparot in the customs of the Ashkenazi Jews, see Siddur mi-berakhah ("Correct order of benedictions according to the customs of the German Jews"), Venice, Pietro & Lorenzo Bragadin, 1618, cc. 35-36.
30. Morosini, Derekh Emunah. Via della fede mostrata agli ebrei, cit., p. 665.
31. Cfr. Benetelli, Le saette di Gionata scagliate a favor degli Ebrei, cit., p. 222.
32. Angelo da Verona reported that "omnes dicebant infrascripta verba in lingua Hebraica: chen icheressù chol hoyveha, que verba in lingua Latina sonant: così sya consumadi li nostri inimizi" (cfr. A. Esposito e D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di Trento, 1475-1478. I: I processi del 1475 , Padova, 1990, p. 290).
33. Azriel Diena, Sheelot w-teshuvot. Responsa, cit., voI. I, pp. 10-14.
34. Mizwat nashim melammedah. Precetti da esser imparati dalle donne hebree, composto per Rabbi Biniamin d'Harodono in lingua tedesca, tradotto ora di nuovo dalla detta lingua nella Volgare per Rabbi Giacob Halpron Hebreo a beneficio delle devote matrone & Donne Hebree tementi d'Iddio , Venice, Giacomo Sarzina, 1615, p. 98.
35. Cfr. Haberman, Sefer ghezerot Ashkenaz we-Zarf at, cit., pp. 34,38-39. For a rather vague discussion of this matter, see S. Goldin, The Ways of Jewish Martyrdom , Lod, 2002, pp. 119-121 (in Hebrew).
36. "Et dicit se vidisse dictus corpus ut supra, dum ipsa Bella esset super hostio Synagogae, cum qua etiam aderant Bruneta, uxor Samuelis, Anna, ejus nurus, Bruneta, mater Angeli, et Anna, uxor tunc Tobiae, qua mortua est jam duobus annis vel circa. Quae omnes infrascripte mulieres et ipsa Bella illuserunt contra dictum corpus sic jacens super Almemore, ut supra, faciendo ficas et expuendo in terram, admovendo manus et quatiendo capita sua et dicendo praedicta verba" [“…and all the above mentioned women ridiculed the body lying on the altar, ‘doing the fig’ and spitting on the ground, waving their arms and violently shaking the boy’s head and repeating the above mentioned words”], (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 121-122).
37. Cfr. loly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti, cit., voI. I, pp. 154-155
ISRAEL'S FINAL DEFIANCE
Israel of Brandenburg, the young Saxon painter and miniaturist who arrived at Trent on the occasion of the fateful Passover of 1475 on one of his frequent trips to the cities of the Triveneto region in search of clients, Jews and Christians, was the first to opt for a rapid conversion to Christianity. He had already successfully braved the baptismal waters by the time the interrogations of the principal persons implicated in the child murder of Simon began in late 1475. Wolfgang was given a new name selected for him by Hinderbach, in honor of a saint for whom the prince bishop of Trent showed particular affection (1). As Wolfgang was to confess at a later time, he had decided to abjure the faith of his fathers simply in the hope of saving his skin (2). And the circumstances proved him right. Or at least, they proved him right, at first.
Two months later, by the end of June, upon conclusion of the first phase of the trials, the principle defendants, nine in total, including Samuele da Nuremberg, Angelo da Verona and the physician Tobias of Magdeburg, were condemned to death and executed. The old man Mosè da Würzburg had died in prison before being sentenced to execution. The trials were then all temporarily suspended by order of the Archduke of Austria, Sigismund. A few of the minor defendants, all of them from among the servants to the two principal money lenders and the physician Tobias, were in prison waiting to learn their fate. By contrast, the women of the small community were confined under house arrests in Samuele’s house, kept under surveillance by the bishop’s gendarmes.
Giovanni Hinderbach had taken a liking to the young convert, Israel Wolfgang, and had demonstrated his trust in him by admitting him freely to the castle and allowing him to sit at table among his servants and courtiers. But his trust was not entirely disinterested.
In the summer of 1475, Wolfgang, the convert painter, was in fact the only Christian in Trent who could read and understand Hebrew. This knowledge was indispensable to the young bishop, who, having confiscated the goods of the condemned, found himself in need of someone capable of deciphering the bank ledgers of the Jews, drawn up, as was normally the case, in Hebrew. The value of the pledges and the ownership by the citizens of Trent or foreigners could only be determined by means of a correct interpretation of the entries appearing in those books. In early June, Hinderbach decided officially to entrust Israel Wolfgang with the paid task of supervising the restitution and redemption of the collateral amassed in the vaults of the Jewish banks (3). The Saxon painter's new workplace was now the money lending shop formerly owned by the deceased Samuele da Nuremberg. Here, the young Wolfgang spent a great part of his time, working diligently and capably.
But at the same time, Israel Wolfgang had simultaneously decided to use his conversion as a disguise, permitting him more easily to help the Jewish women confined under house arrest, facilitating their escape and expatriation (4). Of these his intentions he secretly informed his influential and powerful protector of these intentions: Salomone da Piove di Sacco, who had allowed Wolfgang to stay in his home as a guest, allowing him to meet his family and learn their secrets. The nearby city of Rovereto, located in the high valley of Lagarina, which belonged to the Republic of Venice and was therefore outside bishop Hinderbach’s jurisdiction, had been selected as the general headquarters of the representatives of the Ashkenazi community of the Veneto region for the task of making every effort to obtain the release of those defendants still in prison in Trent, and to invalidate the trials. Salomone Cusi, sent to Rovereto by Salomone da Piove, informed anyone who needed to know of Israel Wolfgang’s full preparedness to bring about the prisoners’ release, particularly the women, quickly, and without attracting attention (5). Jacob of Brescia, Jacob di Bonaventura da Riva, and Cressone da Nuremberg, some of the more prominent exponents of the “lobby” gathered at Rovereto, were perfectly well aware of the dangerous mission which the bold young Saxon, camouflaged as a Christian, had voluntarily assumed.
Jacob da Brescia was the brother of Rizzardo, accused of being one of the principal recipients of the blood originating from
the Regensburg child murder. The money lender did business at Gavardo, in the Bresciano region, and, in testimony of his authority, in 1467, Milanese officials referred to him as "the Jew who is the head of the other Jews" (6). For more than a decade, from 1475 to 1488, Jacob di Bonaventura da Riva was generally considered the most influential banker at Riva del Garda (7). Cressone (Gherson) was another highly prominent Ashkenazi Jew. A native of Nuremberg, he had reached Rovereto around 1460, but he had only received authorization from the Doge Nicolò Tron to bring his daughter and the family’s moveable capital from his native city in 1471 (8). Starting in 1465, a patrician from Rovereto, Delfino Frizzi, had permitted him to live in his palace and to become associated with the Adige river navigation business (9). In his spare time, Cressone da Nuremberg also worked successfully in the money trade, an activity which often took him to the principal centers of the zone, between Riva del Garda (10).
In the summer of 1475, the air at Trent was charged with tension. The minds of both Jews and Christians were filled with uncertainty about the fate of the defendants still in prison, as well as concern for the executed defendants’ wives and children. Israel Wolfgang and his diligent collaborators were concerned with the total confiscation of all the defendants’ property, the redemption of the collateral deposited in their shops, the reimbursement of all sums borrowed -- promptly convoyed in Hinderbach’s strongboxes. In the meantime, as we have seen, the Dominican Battista de' Giudici, bishop of Ventimiglia, the Pope’s delegate commissioner, moved from Rome to Trent to shed light on Simon’s murder and to search for errors by the prince bishop, suspected of having deliberately manipulating the trials towards the resulting conclusion. Before Pope Sixtus IV, Salomone da Piove insistently supported the sending of this commissioner to save those defendants still in prison and to muffle the undesirable scandal threatening to overwhelm the other German Jewish communities of northern Italy, jeopardizing delicate interests and laboriously captured positions while irremediably upsetting the political hinterland which had made these interests possible.
In August 1475, on the road to Trent, the commissioner of the Judges was crossing the Veneto with a small retinue of functionaries and collaborators. It seems that they were accompanied by three Jews, who joined them traveling from the region of Padua (11). Two of these are easily identifiable as Salomone da Piove and Salomone Fürstungar.
Perhaps the third was Rizzardo da Regensburg’s brother, Jacob da Brescia, returning from Rovereto. Fürstungar, the unscrupulous wheeler-dealer and expert intriguer with a thousand resources and influential and multifarious contacts, was probably identical with one of the most prominent figures in German Jewry, transplanted to the Veneto region. This person was Salomone da Camposampiere, who, together with Salomone da Piove, a friend and colleague, maintained despotic control over the money trade at Padua and the district (12).
Battista de’ Giudici entered Trent in the early part of the month of September, taking up quarters at the Albergo Alla Rosa, in the Via delle Osterie Grandi, from which the Wharf of Buonconsiglio was quit visible. He courteously declined bishop Hinderbach’s invitation to be his guest at the castle, probably intended to control his meetings and movements in this way, on the grounds that the inn, although German owned, was well-known for its appetizing Italian cuisine, a quality particularly appreciated by the Dominican inquisitor, who considered himself a man of good taste, not one disposed to compromise in culinary matters (13). De' Giudici was escorted by a small retinue, including his assistant Raffaele, a one-eyed notary , blind in one eye, who knew German and could act as an interpreter, and a mysterious priest, old and hunchbacked, who always wore a torn black frock-coat. The Albergo alla Rosa also hosted Salomone Fürstungar, the influential wheeler-dealer who accompanied the apostolic commissioner with prudence and circumspection, meeting him frequently and speaking Italian, without need for an intermediary of any kind (14).
Israel Wolfgang was now required to respect the delicate and dangerous commitments which he had voluntarily assumed. The young Saxon had been duly warned of de' Giudidi’s arrival by Salomone da Piove, and knew that Fürstungar would contact him [Wolfgang] immediately.
They met at night, in the stalls of the Albergo alla Rosa, far from prying eyes. Fürstungar informed Wolfgang that Gasparo, assistant to Sigismondo’s steward, had procured a safe conduct for him [Wolfgang] to travel to Innsbruck and confer with the Archduke of Austria in order to obtain a definitive suspension of the trials and the release of the imprisoned women. He also asked Wolfgang to make himself available to the apostolic commissioner through the one-eyed notary, who knew German, and to deliver secret messages to the women, confined in Samuele da Nuremberg’s house,
messages to be transmitted to Wolfgang from the general headquarters of the Ashkenazi Jews, set up in Rovereto. The women were reassured, and informed of the good prospects of Wolfgang’s mission before Sigismundo and the commissioner’s full readiness to do everything possible to obtain their release. Fürstungar entrusted Israel Wolfgang with money for his expenses and trouble (15).
The next day, it was the one-eyed notary’s turn to take the initiative of meeting Israel Wolfgang. The location of the appointment was the “stube” near the fountain behind the Chiesa di San Pietro, a public bath in a discreet area of Trent where the streets were usually empty. The notary informed the young painter that he would soon be called upon to talk with the commissioner and, knowing that Wolfgang could freely enter the rooms of the castle of Buonconsiglio, he asked Wolfgang to spy on Hinderbach’s movements and to inform him, the notary, Raffaele, of any rumors going around at the castle relating to the Jews still held in jail as well as on the eventuality of a resumption of the trials.
For his part, Israel Wolfgang warned the one-eyed notary that he intended to continue to avoid the Jews so as not to awaken suspicion, informing him, in the meantime, of what he had succeeded in gleaning from the information floating around. There was a current rumor at Trent that the apostolic commissioner was in cahoots with the Jews and proposed to exonerate all those condemned for Simon’s murder, and bringing about the release of anyone still in prison, including the women. In this regard, Israel Wolfgang knew that Hinderbach was not at all prepared to permit Battista de' Giudici to meet the women for the purpose of interrogating them, and therefore expressed his intention to remove them from house arrest in Samuele’s dwelling and throw them in prison, in separate cells (16).
With his usual circumspection, Salomone Fürstungar, before leaving for Trent on his way back from Innsbruck, had contacted another person, considered a certain friend of the Jewish families. This was Roper, known as Schneider Jud, a German known as the “tailor to the Jews”, who had for years frequented their houses and was linked to them through strong ties of solidarity. For these reasons, he was arrested during the first phase of the trials and subjected to torture. But he confessed nothing, obviously because he knew nothing. He had finally been released and remained a friend to the Jews, although with justifiable caution.
We must not, therefore, be surprised that Schneider decided to go to Rovereto to meet the representatives of the Ashkenazi Jews, offering them his assistance. During the meeting, he
was informed by Salomone Cusi, Salomonoe da Piove’s delegate, and Cressone da Rovereto of Fürstungar’s planned mission before the Archduke Sigismondo. Now Fürstungar now assigned Schneider, directly, with the same tasks as Israel Wolfgang, i.e., first of all, that of keeping contact with the women, and bringing them letters and information (17).
Israel Wolfgang and Roper Schneider had become the Jewish women’s messenger boys, their only precious source of information, the only chink onto external reality. But they had to be careful to avoid discovery. The bishop’s solders, in fact, occupied Samuele’s house, in which the women were confined, guarding the external door. The Saxon painter could easily enter the house, since it contained some of the late banker’s collateral, but if he was caught talking to the women he would arouse the gendarmes’ justifiable suspicions. The solution was to communicate orally, in the courtyard located at the rear of the house, where the women faced a small balcony overlooking the stall. Any letters sent to them, as well as any letters written in response, by contrast, were exchanged through a chink dug in the surrounding wall (18).
Sara, Maestro Tobias’s widow, and with her, Bella and Anna, were informed by Israel Wolfgang of the commissioner’s favorable attitude towards them, as well as his plans to liberate them and the hopes linked to Fürstungar’s ambassadorship at Innsbruck. In the letters sent from Rovereto and written in Hebrew, Fürstungar himself, with Jacob of Arco and Cressone, asked the women for detailed information about the conditions of their imprisonment and any coercive methods employed by Hinderbach to make them confess. For his part, Israel Wolfgang was now fully committed, working diligently and enthusiastically in the desperate attempt to free Sara and the other prisoners. The intrepid Saxon painter was thus compelled, despite himself, to neglect the graces of his mistress, Ursula Oberdorfer, a prosperous local beauty with whom he was accustomed to entertain himself concealed at Angelo's tavern, in the San Pietro district. To seal his love, Israel had recently given the young lady, who was, of course, a Christian, a precious silver ring with a valuable stone, obviously taken from Samuele’s pledges, which he was supposed to safeguard (19).
The same apostolic commissioner convened Israel Wolfgang to his room in the inn, in the wee small hours of the morning, under maximum secrecy. All of de' Giudici’s collaborators were there: Raffaele, the secretary responsible for drawing up the
minutes; the one-eyed notary, who knew German and who acted as a translator, and the hunchbacked priest in a black cassock. Invited under oath to set forth his version of the facts, the young Jew, now nominally a Christian, told of the horrible tortures to which the accused, all innocent, had been subjected during trial, for the purpose of extorting their confessions. Hinderbach and his jailers were accused of orchestrating a colossal injustice accompanied by ignoble machinations, all for profit. The Jews of Trent were said to be the mere victims of a pitiless theorem [theorem = an indicative conditional: if A, then B], intended to demonstrate their guilt at all costs (20).
Israel Wolfgang was later to admit that he lied to the commissioner, in his effort to be of some assistance to the poor women who were still in prison (21). Interrupting the painter’s “domesticated” report, the one-eyed notary asked him whether he could so something to help the women escape from their involuntary abode.
The response was in the negative. Gendarmes were everywhere and were determined to be effective guards, subjecting Sara and her companions in misfortune to strict supervision.
As early as late September, Salomone Fürstungar returned to Trent, disillusioned by his meeting with Sigismundo at Innsbruck. The archduke had in fact refused to intervene to free the prisoners and was persuaded that the trials should resume to make a final determination of the defendants’ guilt or innocence. The path was now free for Hinderbach, who had probably exerted pressure on Sigismundo to obtain a decision of this kind. For his part, Fürstungar, angered by the unexpected failure of his mission, was now resolutely determined to avenge himself upon the implacable bishop of Trent by dispatching him to his Creator, perhaps in the company of his collaborators. And he knew he had a bold assassin at hand, prepared to do the job.
Israel Wolfgang was urgently summoned to the usual meeting place, at night. In the stalls of the “alla Rosa” inn, Fürstungar informed Wolfgang of the negative outcome of the appointment with Sigismundo and asked him to carry out an immediate plan to terminate Hinderbach’s existence by poisoning (22). The poison was to be put in his food while circumventing the many precautions with which the prudent bishop had thought fit to protect his life. The young painter, eager to carry out the new mission entrusted to him, carefully examined Hinderbach’s habits at table. All dishes and wine placed on the table were tasted by various persons on three occasions, i.e., by the cook,
in the kitchen, by the steward, in putting the dish on the sideboard, and by the waiter, in placing it on table. The poison therefore had to be placed in the food after the last servant had tasted it. Israel Wolfgang said he was capable of choosing the right time, but needed to find the raw material, an effective and lethal poison. Upon his return to the castle at Buonconsiglio, he quickly set to work (23).
Among the stationary materials in the office, Israel Wolfgang knew there was a box containing materials belonging to a friend and colleague who had recently died, Friar Pietro, a German who had earned his living as a painter, miniaturist, and occasionally as an alchemist. The ingredients used by the monk in preparing his colors were bound to include some solid arsenic. Israel Wolfgang was not mistaken: a respectable chunk of red arsenic, or cinnabar-colored arsenic sulfide, soon found its way into his pockets.
The next night, the Saxon painter hasted to meet Fürstungar again; with justifiable satisfaction, Wolfgang showed him the poison he had obtained. But the astute and expert German go-getter only needed a glance to realize that that Wolfgang’s lump of bi-sulfide of arsenic was almost harmless, and would never have troubled the bishop of Trent with anything more serious than a passing belly-ache. At any rate, he offered to supply his young assassin as quickly as possible with good arsenic, capable of poisoning the bishop effectively (24). But for a variety of reasons, the project, although never formally abandoned, was to take another course, and Israel Wolfgang is not thought to have seen Salomone Fürstungar again.
Battista de' Giudici wasn’t discouraged either. Unable to meet the women and other defendants due to Hinderbach’s refusal, he concluded that he could do little by remaining at Trent. The hostile and intimidating climate -- as he saw it -- in which he was compelled to work, actually prevented him from making the desired progress in his inquiry (25). The failure of Salomone Fürstungar’s mission to Sigismundo, of which de’ Giudici had been duly informed, was only an obvious prelude to the imminent resumption of the trials, leaving him with very little time in which to work, carrying the dossiers to Rome with only moderate hope that the appeal process might be approved and that the defendants might be released before they suffered the anticipated punishment.
In very late September 1475, less than one month after de’ Giudici’s arrival in the city, the pontifical commissioner decided to leave Trent and move to Rivereto, outside Hinderbach's jurisdiction. The choice of city seemed a rather delicate one,
since Rovereto was known as the established general headquarters of the Ashkenazi Jewish community of northern Italy, actively mobilized some time before, in their efforts to exonerate the accused from any responsibility in Simonino’s murder. It was also foreseeable that the bishop would spare no pains in representing the apostolic functionary as being under the thumb of the Jews. And Hinderbach lost no time in stressing the unsuitability of de' Giudici’s decision. In a letter to the humanist friend Raffaele Zovenzoni, the bishop of Trent [Hinderbach] noted that the reasons for the commissioner’s [de’ Giudici’s] move to Rovereto were just phony excuses and that the presence of the Jews gathered in the city at that time was highly suspicious (26).
Before leaving Trent, commissioner de’ Giudici sent his one-eyed notary to Israel Wolfgang to inform him, Wolfgang, of his, de’ Giudici’s intentions and later availability. De' Giudici, who intended to leave for Rome as quickly as possible to confer with the Pope and try to get him to stop the trials, is said to have warned the Saxon convert just in time for Wolfgang to reach Rovereto. In fact, the commissioner wished to take Wolfgang with him to see Sixtus IV, considering Wolfgang’s testimony of fundamental importance. At Rome, Israel Wolfgang is also thought to have been assisted financially, as usual, by Fürstungar. In the meantime, Wolfgang was to maintain his contacts with the commissioner and keep him informed of everything going on at Buonconsiglio, sending regular epistolary reports to his protector, Salomone da Piove, who was well able to make best use of them. But the most important recommendation was that Salomone should do everything in his power to enable the women to escape from their enforced confinement in Samuele’s home (27).
With the departure from Trent of Fürstungar, who continued, cautiously and with circumspection, to watch de' Giudici and his retinue in their every move, Israel Wolfgang became the only Jew, although formally converted, left in the city, able to render any assistance to the women and other detainees. He was perfectly aware of the delicate nature of this role. Although he was able to leave Trent without impediment, reaching liberty on other, safer shores, the young painter from Brandenburg was not prepared to abandon the dangerous mission which he had voluntarily assumed. He was certainly not lacking in either courage or recklessness. He is believed to have remained at Trent, engaged in his desperate attempt to save the women defendants, at the risk of his life, to the bitter end.
Immediately upon his arrived at Rovereto, the apostolic commissioner ordered the bishop of Trent to free the prisoners without delay, particularly, the women and children, and he prohibited subjecting them to torture. At the same time, the Jews presented Battista de' Giudice
with an appeal disputing the validity of the trials, signed by Jacob da Riva and Jacob da Brescia (28). They were ready to accept it, instructing Hinderbach to respond to thirteen counts in an indictment accusing him, among other things, of bringing the trials solely to misappropriate the property of the condemned, estimated at twenty thousand florins.
The efforts expended to cause problems for the inquisitorial machinery set up at Trent enjoyed an initial success on 12 October 1475, when Sixtus IV himself, at the request of the Jews gathered at Rovereto, instructed Hinderbach to release the incarcerated women and children, said to be confined in precariously unhealthy conditions, and whom Sixtus believed to be innocent (29). De' Giudici, for his part, invited Giovanni da Fondo, the notary at the Trent trials, to appear before him to testify as a witness. The notary’s refusal was clear and immediate. Giovanni in fact maintained that he feared for his life: the Jews at Rovereto would not hesitate to have him murdered (30).
In the meantime, Fürstungar, alias Salomone da Composampiero, reaching Val Lagarina together with the apostolic commissioner, abandoned Rovereto immediately to travel to Verona in an attempt to procure the services of Gianmarco Raimondi, one of the best lawyers in the city. Having obtained an appointment, Fürstungar explained to the Veronese jurist, Raimondi, that, in the cause of the Jews of Trent, he could count on the support of illustrious Roman prelates, and that even the apostolic commissioner himself had only arrived in the area thanks to the considerable financial commitments assumed by the German-origin Jewish community to ensure the commissioner’s very appointment before the Pope. Raimondi was offered a fee at the rate of three florins a day to overcome his foreseeable hesitation, but to no avail: Raimondi had no intention at all of taking the case (31).
At Trent, Israel Wolfgang had an unexpected meeting. Waiting for him one morning under the portico of Samuele’s bank, was a German Jew whom Wolfgang had met some time back, in his uncle’s house at Erlangen, near Nuremberg. The German Jew told him that he, too, had converted to Christianity, taking the Christian name of Giovanni Pietro in baptismal deed, registered at Mantua, but that he had remained faithful in one way or another to the faith of his fathers. To allay suspicion, he told people that he had been moved to visit Trent by the miracles of little Simon, but had, in reality, been sent by the general headquarters of the German Jews at Rovereto to make contact with
Israel Wolfgang. In particular, he had been instructed on his mission in Trent by no less a personage than the usual Salomone da Piove, and with him, Aronn da Castelnoveto (32). The latter was to be tried and condemned in 1488 for contempt for the Christian religion, together with the other heads of the Ashkenzi community of the Duchy of Milan (33).
The Mantuan convert known as “Giovanni Pietro” asked Israel Wolfgang to place him in contact with the women detainees and to obtain useful information from them; he moreover wished to obtain first-hand news about the goings-on at Buonconsiglio. Promptly satisfied, he [Giovanni Pietro] was successful in meeting secretly with Brunetta, Samuele of Nuremberg’s obstinate widow, and asked her whether she and the other prisoners had been subjected to torture, despite the intimations of the commissioner and the Pope (34). But there was not much time left. Not even to organize one last desperate attempt to arrange for the women’s escape and conveyance to safety. The meeting between Israel Wolfgang and Giovanni Pietro da Mantova, the German Jew from Erlangen, was on 18 October. Two days later, the Trent trials were officially re-opened, on Hinderbach’s initiative, with the explicit consent of the court at Innsbruck.
One week after that, Israel Wolfgang was already in trouble, betrayed by Lazzaro da Serravalle and Isacco da Gridel di Vedera, Angelo da Verona’s servants, as well as by Mosè da Franconia, teacher of Tobias’s children, and Joav da Ansbach, the ignorant scullery boy in Tobias’s kitchen, who, tortured and confessing, out of envy or spite, had accused the young Saxon painter of responsibility for little Simon’s murder (35) .
Israel Wolfgang was arrested on 26 October while dining at the castle, calmly and with a good appetite, with the bishop’s officials and courtiers. Immediately transferred to the prisons of the Buonconsiglio, he was subjected to an exuberant dose of torture to induce him to say whatever he knew or imagined.
The other defendants were condemned and publicly executed between 1 December 1475 and 15 January of the following year. At the foot of the scaffold, Mosè of Franconia and the coarse Joav both converted to the faith in Christ, in the hope of alleviating their own suffering (36).
Wolfgang was, deliberately, the last to be executed, condemned by Giovanni Hinderbach’s tribunal on 19 January 1476.
Offended and feeling betrayed, Hinderbach made no exception of any kind for Wolfgang, and punished him much more harshly than even the principal defendants on trial; his body, cruelly broken on the wheel, was devoured by animals. The young Saxon painter and miniaturist, "who said that he was less than twenty five years old, although he looked at least twenty nine", faced martyrdom without batting an eye, dying a death which, both in his eyes and from the point of view of that German Judaism to which he belonged, he had been taught to court to sanctify the name of God ('al qiddush ha-Shem).
His death was accompanied by unflaggingly indecorous anti-Christian grimaces and a scornful profession of polemical faith. The voluntary sacrifice of Israel Wolfgang, the boy from Brandenburg, counter-balanced, or, more exactly, flanked, the involuntary sacrifice of little Simon, in a holy tragedy in which the basic elements of the plot, cruel and bloody, had been composed centuries before, in Hebrew and Yiddish, in German and in Latin, in the valleys washed by the muddy waters of the Rhine and the Main, the Rhône and the Danube, the Adige and the Ticino, where it was said that the god of the rivers claimed their innocent victims every year.
"Yes, I am perfectly persuaded and convinced that killing Christian children and consuming their blood and swallowing it was a good thing [...] If I could obtain the blood of a Christian boy for our Passover feast, of course I would drink it and eat it, if I could do so without attracting too much attention. Know ye that, although I have been baptized, I, Israel, son of Meir, may he rest in peace, a Jew of Brandenburg, intend, and have established in my soul, that I wish to die a true Jew. I had myself baptized when I saw that I had gotten caught, and in doubt that I might be condemned to death, believing that I could avoid it, as actually happened. Know ye, therefore, that I, Israel of Brandenburg, Jew, do no consider anything believed and observed by the Christian religion to be true at all. I believe with an unshakeable faith that the religion of Israel is correct and holy" (37).
But not everything had gone wrong, at least from Israel of Brandenburg’s point of view. Not a single week had passed since his arrest before the young Saxon Jew, in his cell, was informed that Hinderbach had finally given in, perhaps in part to counterbalance foreseeable criticism of his decision to reopen the trials, and had consented to release the incarcerated women’s children. These were Mosè and Salomone, the children of
of Verona and of Dolcetta; Seligman, Meir of Würzburg’s young boy; Samuele da Nuremberg’s daughter-in-law Anna’s young boy, still in diapers; and the numerous offspring of the late Tobias, whose four children were named Joske, Mosè, Chaim and David. An envoy from the apostolic commissioner appeared at the castle of Buonconsiglio on 2 November and took delivery of the children, who were later taken to Rovereto and entrusted to the Jews (38).
Little is known of their fate. Many of them were probably taken back to Germany and adopted by relatives or persons known by them, and seem to have disappeared from the pages of history. Only Mosè and Salomone, Angelo da Verona’s children, remained safely in Italy, entrusted to the Ashkenazi community which had worked so actively to obtain their release (39). Following the confessions of Brunetta, Samuele da Nuremberg’s widow, and the other women, followed by their conversion to Christianity, which occurred in January 1477, attempts to return the children to their mothers proved fruitless (40).
Bella, Anna and Sara, who had, at the time, voluntarily entrusted their children to the Jews of Rovereto -- now that they were converted and baptized under the names of Elisabetta, Susanna, and Chiara -- wanted them back urgently, ceding to the pressures of those who wished them to have the children baptized. Pope Sixtus IV himself, by a bull of 20 June 1478, addressed to Hinderbach, exhorted him to take all steps to ensure that they might be returned to the recently converted women, together with their dowries; the children were to be baptized. But his attempts in this direction were too late; it was like closing the barn door when the horse has already been stolen.
"We still wish, and we enjoin you to it with the same authority, that you shall use all diligence to ensure that the children of the condemned Jews be returned to their baptized mothers, together with their dowry, wherever that might be found, compelling any opponent or rebel by means of ecclesiastical censure and other means granted by law" (41).
But the last scene of the drama was yet to be enacted. The drama finally concluded with the solemn appearance at the baptismal font of Salomone, the physician Tobias’s feeble-minded servant. The poor imbecile, deemed incapable of understanding or consenting, had survived the trial for little Simon’s murder because he gave no indication of knowing or remembering anything about it.
Now, to mark the occasion of the feeble-minded Salamone’s baptism, under the name of Giovanni; in a crowded ceremony in the Chiesa di San Pietro at Trent, it was the common desire of all that he might also recover the light of the intellect (42). The body of the sainted little martyr Simon was invoked aloud to perform this one last appropriate miracle.
NOTES TO CHAPTER FIFTEEN
1. Cfr. D. Rando, Dai margini la memoria. Johannes Hinderbach (1418-1486) , Bologna, 2003, p. 398.
2. The podestà of Trent stated with some uncertainty "quod Wolfgangus asseruit se minorem 25 annis et licet ex aspectu videatur major annorum 28 vel circa". [“that Wolfgang said he was less then 25 years old, but you could see from his face that he was at least 28”] At an earlier date, on 21 April 1475, a record was made in the trial documents "quod Israel Hebreus, qui ad praesens in carceribus detinetur, occasione q. Simonis interfecti, desiderat effici Christianus et Baptisma suscipere; idcirco praelibatus Reverendissimus Dominus mandavit dictum Israelem de carceribus relaxari pro nunc, ita quod de Castro non exeat, ad hoc ut in fide instrui possit et deinde si visum fuerit Baptizari"[Approximately: “that Israel the Jew, who is presently being held in jail in relation to the killing of Simon, wishes to become a Christian and undergo baptism; for this reason, the Prince Bishop commands him to be released for now, as long as he doesn’t leave the castle, so that he might be instructed in the faith, and we therefore consent to his baptism”]. Israel Wolfgang later admitted that he had been baptized to escape condemnation to death, "quare ipse Wolfgangus fecit se baptizare, quia vidit se captum et dubitavit ne condemnaretur ad mortem, credens se illam evadere, ut evasit" (cfr. [Benedetto Bonelli], [“because this Wolfgang caused himself to be baptized because he saw that he had gotten caught and feared he might be sentenced to death, believing he could escape death, which in fact he did”] Dissertazione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trento nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso, Trent, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, pp. 138, 140, 147). In this regard, see also G. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, Trent, 1902, voI. II, pp. 78 ss.; R. Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475. A Ritual Murder Trial , New Haven (Conn.), 1992, pp. 95-96.
3. On 8 June 1475 it was announced that Hinderbach "praelibatus Reverendissimus Dominus, attento quod non sit aliquis, qui libros Hebraicos dictorum Judaeorum legere sciat, cum supradictis libris nomina omnium qui habent pignora apud Judaeos scripta sint in Hebraicis litteris, nec alius sit qui dictos libros legere valeat, de quo verosimilius confidi possit, quam de suprascripto Israele, nun facto Christiano et nominato Wolfgango, eidem Wolfgango licentiam dedit quod possit exire de Castro etc."] [Approximately: “since His Most Rerevend Lordship saw that there was nobody else who could read what was written in the books of the Jews, said books containing notations as to all the pledges held by the Jews, written in Hebrew, and that nobody else who can be trusted is any good at reading them, except for the above mentioned Israel, who has now become a Christian and is called Wolfgang, he gave the said Wolfgang permission to leave the castle, etc.”] (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 140).
4. Israel Wolfgang confessed to the Trent judges that, taking advantage of his new condition as a Christian, "volebat adjuvare judaeos, si potuisset" [“that he wanted to help the Jews, if possible”] (cfr. ibidem, p. 147).
5. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 87 -90.
6. On Jacob da Brescia, see, in particular, F. Glissenti, Gli ebrei nel Bresciano al tempo della Dominazione Veneta. Nuove ricerche e studi, Brescia, 1891, pp. 714; A. Gamba, Gli ebrei a Brescia nei secoli XV-XVI, Brescia, 1938, p. 31; F. Chiappa, Una colonia ebraica in Palazzolo a metà del 1400 , Brescia, 1964, p. 37; Sh. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, Jerusalem, 1982, vol. I, pp. 433, n. 1013 e 677, n. 1632.
7 . "Iacob Ebreus et socii habitator Ripae", [“Jacob the Jew, and associates, residents of Riva”], or "Iacob Ebreus et socii dantes ad usuram in Rippa" [“Jacob the Jew and his money-lending associates in Riva”], are very often recalled in the advisory orders of Riva del Garda and in the notarial documentation for the years 1475-1488 (cfr. M. Grazioli, L'arte della lana e dei panni nella Riva veneziana del sec. XV in due documenti dell'Archivio Rivano e Riva veneziano. Le uscite ordinarie , in "Il Sommolago", III, 1986, n. 1, pp. 109-120; IV, 1987, n. 3, pp. 5-54; M.L. Crosina, La comunità ebraica di Riva del Garda, sec. XV-XVIII, Riva del Garda, 1991, pp. 29-35). It is not entirely impossible that Jacob da Arco, of whom we know nothing, may be identical with this Jacob da Riva.
8. The privilege of the Doge Nicolò Tron, relating to the transfer in 1471 of the daughter of Cressone da Nuremberg to Rovereto, is recalled by R. Po-Chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder. Jews and Magic in Reformation Germany, New Haven (Conn.) - London, 1988, p. 44.
9. Cfr. G. Boldi, Gli estimi della città di Rovereto (1449, 1460, 1475, 1490, 1502), Rovereto, 1988, pp. XXV, 92,180, 343. Cressone, who at Rovereto lived in the Frizzi palace "under the Rock", possessed real property in the district.
10. On Cressone’s banking activity, which included patrician families among his clients, such as the Counts of Lodron, see C. Andreolli, Una ricognizione delle comunità ebraiche nel Trentino tra XVI e XVII secolo , in "Materiali di lavoro", 1988, n. 1-4, pp. 157-158. On his involvement in the Riva del Garda affairs, see Crosina, La comunità ebraica di Riva del Garda, cit., p. 29.
11. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, pp. 69-70.
12. The reasons leading me to accept the proposed identification of Salomone Fürstungar with Salomone da Camposampiero, already advanced by Daniele Nissim (La risposta di Isacco Vita Cantarini all' accusa di omicidio rituale di Trento, Padova 1670-1685, in "Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche", LXXIX, 2000, p. 830), are many, of considerable weight: 1) it seems implausible that a personality of major importance in the panorama of Ashkenazi leadership in the Veneto, like Salomone da Camposampiero, should be quite absent from the documentation relating to the efforts of the Jewish community to save the Trent defendants, in contrast to what happened with his friend and colleague Salomone da Piove; 2) Salomone Fürstungar, whose name does not appear in the documentation on the Jews of Padua having come to light so far, is described in the trial records as a recognized leader of the Paduan Jews, among whom he had been living for some time, so much so as to have a perfect knowledge of Italian, in addition to German (which fits Salomone da Camposampiero perfectly); 3) Fürstungar was able to dress "like a Christian", a privilege enjoyed only by Jewish physicians and bankers, including Salamone da Camposampiero. On Salomone da Camposampiero and his family, cfr. D. Jacoby, 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 (XIII-XVIII Centuries) , Ramat Gan, 1989, pp. 160-177; D. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività. Saggi di storia degli ebrei a Padova e nel Veneto nel!' età del Rinascimento , Florence, 2002, pp. 61-110.
13. The inn alla Rosa, "a good inn", among the most popular of Trent, was located in the district of the German inns beyond the northern gate of San Martino, was managed by the Bavarian family of Michael di Konrad and his son Michael (cfr. E. Fox, Storia delle osterie trentine , Trent, 1975, pp. 84-87; S. Luzzi, Stranieri in città. Presenza tedesca e società urbana a Trento, secoli XV-XVIII, Bologna, 2003, pp. 229-236).
14. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 73, 86.
15. Ibidem, pp. 78-79; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., pp. 98-100.
16. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 79-80.
17. Cfr. ibidem, pp. 87-90. On the interrogation and tortures to which Roper Schneider was subjected, see A. Esposito and D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di Trento, 1475-1478 . I: I processi del 1475, Padua, 1990, pp. 38-40.
18 cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 84-85.
19. Cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 148; Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 95.
20. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 81-83.
21. "Wolfgangus interrogatus a dicto Monoculo (the one-eyed notary), illo Notario interprete D. Commissarii, respondit quod delato sibi juramento [...] nec ipsi, nec alii Judaei interfecerunt dictum puerum [...] et ideo dixit et testificatus est quia ipse Wolfgangus volebat adjuvare Judaeos si potuisset" ] (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 147).
22. "(Salomon) rogabat ipsum Wolfgangum quod debebat cogitare modum aliquem, per quem posset ulcisci. Et cum ipse Wolfgangus respondisset quod erat contentus quod ulcisceretur, si modo posset, praedictus Salomon dixit sibi Wolfgango quod deberet bene advertere et diligenter considerare castrum, videlicet bene advertere quem modum servabat Reverendissimus Dominus in bibendo; et si aliquo modo idem Reverendissimus Dominus posset venenari et quod bene debeat considerare ista et in reditu ejusdem Salomonis postea referre sibi Salomoni. Cui Salomoni ipse Wolfgangus ita promisit facere" [Approximately: “(Salamone) told Wolfgang that he should think of some way to get revenge. And when Wolfgang told him he would be happy to get revenge, Salamone told him that he should take great care and study the castle carefully, and see who served His Most Reverend Lordship his drink, and see if there was any way that that he might be poisoned, and that he should think about this, and report back to Salamone later. Which Wolfgang promised to do”] (cfr. ibidem, p. 145). In this regard, see Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 127-145; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., pp. 101-102.
23. "Salomon dixit sibi Wolfgango an posset venenare Reverendissimum D. Episcopum Tridentinum, cui Salomoni ipse Wolfgangus respondit quod praefatus Reverendissimus Dominus faciebat sibi fieri magnas custodias, faciendo sibi facere credentias, et quod ipse Wolfgangus tamen tentaret et videret si posset illum venenare. [...] Wolfgangus cogitaverat de venenando ipsum Reverendissimum Dominum et alios hoc modo, quia volebat conterere dictum venenum et postea se approximare credentiae, super qua deferentur fercula, quae postea deferuntur in mensam Reverendissimi Domini et tentare, si illud venenum poterat proijcere vel in vinum vel in fercula, et hoc interim dum dicta fercula starent super credentieria, pincerna aut aliis ibi existentibus non advertentibus" (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 146).
24. "Wolfgangus vidit dictum frustum veneni super disco in Cancellaria et accepit tantum de dicto veneno, quantum esset una avellana, et illud portavit ad dictum Salomonem, qui Salomon respondit quod illud non erat de bono veneno ad interficiendum et quod idem Salomon bene portaret de bono veneno pro interficiendo" (cfr. ibidem, p. 146).
25. The apostolic commissioner also lamented the true and proper climate of Trent, humid and rainy, which is said to have reduced him to a state of infirmity for three weeks (see Battista de' Giudici, Apologia Iudaeorum. Invectiva contra Platinam , by D. Quaglioni, Roma, 1987, pp. 49-59).
26. In the missive, Hinderbach stressed that "Iudei et quidam doctores qui apud Rovredum, oppidum nobis vicinum, sunt, ubi etiam legatus ille seu commissarius se pretextu adverse valitudinis que illum et suos hic invasit pridem se reduxit" (Esposito e Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, p. 17).
27. In this regard, see Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 93-94.
28. Cfr. ibidem, pp. 101-104; Esposito e Quaglioni, Processi, cit., voI. I, pp. 19-21.
29. "Verum, exponitur nobis pro parte ludeorum, quod illic adhuc nonnulli pueri et femine, de quorum innocentia nullum dubium esse dicitur, detineantur infirmi, non absque vite, propter infirmitatem huiusmodi, periculo, carcerati. Hortamur in Domino fraternitatem tuam, ut, si carcerati predicti circa eiusdem pegni negocium culpa carent, eosdem relaxare, et operam suam etiam apud ducem ipsum, si necessarium fuerit, in hoc efficaciter impartiri velit, ut pro iustitie debito relaxentur" (cfr. Sh. Simonsohn, The Apostolic See and the Jews. III: Documents, 1464-1521, Toronto, 1990, p. 1232). See also W.P. Eckert, Aus den Akten des Trienter Judenprozesses, in P. Wilpert, Judentum im Mittelalter , Berlin, 1966, p. 300.
30. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 112 -113, n. 6.
31. The lawyer, Raimondi, hastened to write to Hinderbach a few days later, on 12 October 1475, informing him of Salomone Fürstungar’s report during the meeting. "Nonnulli Judeorum hic commorantium, oblato non parvo pondere auri, patrocinium meum habere quaesierunt et dietim sedulo aureos tres pollicebantur, subjungentes quod apud Summum Pontificem favores plurimos Praelatorum consequebantur et Delegatum Apostolicum impetrasse magna exposita pecunia. Haec et alia verba, quae mihi somnia videbantur, percepi a Salomone, hic commorante". The letter was published by Bonelli (Dissertazione apologetica, cit., p. 145) and is reproduced by Divina (Storia del beato Simone da Trento , cit., voI. II, p. 105).
32. In this regard, see Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 114-117; Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475, cit., pp. 99-100.
33. On the 1488 trial of Samuele, a resident of Castelnoveto, and the other German Jews living in the Duchy of Milan, see Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan , cit., voI. II, p. 897; A. Antoniazzi Villa, Un processo contro gli ebrei nella Milano del 1488, Milan, 1986, pp. 107-108.
34. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, pp. 116-117.
35. Cfr. ibidem, p. 135.
36. Cfr. ibidem, pp. 57-60.
37. "Quod ipse Wolfgangus tenet et firmiter credit quod sit bene factum interficere pueros christianos et comedere et bibere sanguinem [...] et quod si ipse Wolfgangus posset habere de sanguine pueri christiani in festo Paschae ipsorum Judaeorum, etiam de illo biberet et comederet, dummodo posset illum secrete comedere et bibere; et quod, licet sit baptizatus, tamen intendit et in animo suo statuit velle mori ut realis Judaeus, et ipse Wolfgangus fecit se baptizare, quia vidit se captum et dubitavit ne condamnaretur ad mortem, credens se illam evadere, ut evasit [...] et ipse Wolfgangus nihil credit de his quae fides Christiana tenet et observat et quod tenet pro firmo quod fides Judaeorum sit justa et sancta" [Approximately: “That Wolfgang held and firmly believed that it was a good thing to kill Christian boys and eat and drink their blood […] and that if he could obtain the blood of Christian boys during the Jewish Passover feast, he would eat and drink of it, as long as he could eat and drink of it in secrecy; and that it was lawful to be baptized, but that he intended and wished in his soul to die a real Jew, and that he had himself baptized because he saw he had gotten caught and was afraid he’d be condemned to death, and thinking he could get off, which he did […] and that he didn’t believe there was any truth in the Christian faith and that he firmly held that the faith of the Jews was holy and just.”] (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 147-148).
38. In this regard, see Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., voI. II, p. 110. Battista de' Giudici is said to have been later accused of having delivered the children to the Jews of Rovereto instead of having them baptized ("in quantum tradidit sanguinem innocentem perfidis Iudeis, videlicet infantes illos, qui modo essent Christiani, quorum animae plus valerent quam totus mundus"). Vedi [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica , cit., p. 132.
39. The ritual decisions of the well-known rabbi Israel Isserlein da Wiener Neustadt refer to a compromise relating to the sharing of the inheritance of Angelo da Verona (who here appears under the name of Engel mi-Trient) among the orphan children, in a dispute before a rabbinical tribunal, the judges of which were from Treviso, Verona and Padua (Israel Isserlein, Pesaqim w-ketavim, Fürth, 1738, c. 17b, par. 102-103). Since Isserlein died in around 1460, it is not possible that the response, obviously linked to a situation later than 1475, can be attributable to him; the response was probably erroneously included among his writings. In this regard, see I.J. Yuval, Scholars in Their Time. The Religious Leadership of German Jewry in the Late Middle Ages , Jerusalem, 1984, p. 261. In August of 1498, the brothers, Mosè and Salomone, Angelo’s sons, appointed as their procurator Manuele da Rovigo to recover the loans forming part of their father’s inheritance (cfr. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit., voI. IV, pp. 2847-2848). It should be noted that Mosè, son of the late Angelo da Verona, was still alive and presumably rather old by the mid-Sixteenth century. He lived at Cremona (cfr. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan , cit., vol. II, pp. 1335, 1357).
40. On the conversion of the women detained at Trent, see, in particular, [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 158-160; Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento , cit., voI. II, pp. 204-206.
41. "Preterea volumus, et eadem tibi auctoritate iniungimus, quod omnem adhibeas diligentiam, ut infantes Iudeorum damnatorum filii, eorum baptizatis matribus, una cum dotibus matrum eorundem, apud quoscumque reperiantur deposite, omnino restituantur; contradictores quoslibet et rebelles per censuram ecclesiasticam, et alia iuris remedia compescendo" (cfr. Simonsohn, The Apostolic See and the Jews, cit., pp. 1246-1247). In this regard, see also Eckert, Trienter Judenprozesses, cit., p. 300. My text includes Divina’s translation of the passage from the Papal bull, Divina (Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 212).
42 "(Comparuit) Joannes Neophytus, alias Salmon in Judaismo denominatus, genua sua humiliter et devote flectens, et manus suas versus eandem capsam, in qua corpus praefati Beati Simonis et Martyris conservatur, tendens [...] in signum contritionis ac votorum suorum Omnipotenti Deo ac Beato Simoni" [“Johann the convert, alias Salamon, his Jewish name, humbly and devoutly (appeared) on bended knee, with his hands extended towards the vault in which the body of the Holy Saint Simon is kept, as a sign of contrition and prayer to the Omnipotent God and Saint Simon”] (cfr. [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 159-160). See also Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento , cit., vol. II, p. 60.
1452, l March
The physician Abbe de Mosè del Medigo di Candia, imprisoned in the Carceri Nuove of Venice under the accusation of having crucified lambs at Passover, in comtempt of the Christian religion, is accused together with the money lender Bonomo da Mestre of having attempted to bribe Antonio Priuli, "district mayor in the Levant" of Venice. The Avogaria di Comun condemns Bonomo and acquits Abba del Medigo.
ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650 (I), cc. 28r-29r.
Die XXVIII februarii. Bonomus ebreus filius Moisi contra quem processum fuit per dominos advocatores comunis et offitium suum in eo, de eo et pro eo quod dum ipse Bonomus alquotiens iret visitatum Abbam ebreum carceratum in carcere novo ad requisitionem dominorum auditorum novorum sententiarum veluti sindicorum levantis et quandoque intercessisset nominem dicti Abbe cum viro nobili ser Antonio de Priolis, uno dictorum auditorum in ipso casu, ausu temerario et non propendens quantum hoc redundabat in infamiam et dedens nobilium huius rei publice, dixit ipsi Abbe falso et contra veritate quod vir nobilis ser Antonius predictus rogabat ipsum Abbam ut sibi mutuo daret ducatos quinquaginta ex quo ipse Abbas, repertis ipsis denariis, etiam ipse mutuo eos dedit ipsi Bonomo ebreo, credens ut ipsos mutuo daret ipsi ser Antonio de Priolis, qui Bonomus ipsos denarios pro se retinuit. Cumque post aliquos menses ipse Abba vellet denarios suos et hoc diceret ipsi ser Antonio de Priolis, ipse ser Antonius turbatus ex hac gulositate, predictum manifestavit dominis advocatoribus comunis ut de omnibus et predictis latius patet per processus camere; ductus et placitatus fuit ipse Bonomus in Consilio de XL, in quo posita fuit pars si videtur vobis per ea que dicta sunt quod procedatur contra Bonomum ebreum filium Moisi qui, postposito omni timore Dei et domini nostri, accepit ab Abba ebreo carcerato ducatos .L. pro subornando virum nobilem ser Antonium de Priolis sindicum levantis et eos pro se retinuit ut est dictum.
Datis atque receptis in ipso consilio ballotis XXXIII fuerunt: non sinceris -10-, de non -1- et de parte -22-. Capto ergo de procedendo, positis diversis partibus, 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 carceribus et solvat ducatos ducentos auri et iterum banniatur et totiens quotiens se permiserit reperiri; et quod de predictis vel aliquo predictorum non possit sibi fieri gratia, donum, remissio, revocatio vel aliqua declaratio nisi per sex consiliarios tria capita de XL, XL, de XL et quatuor partes Maioris Consilii, nec possit poni de faciendo aliter sub pena contenta in parte nova contrabandorum.
Die primo martii. Abba ebreus carceratus absolutus, sed tamen contra quem processum fuit per dominos advocatores comunis et offitium suum et pro eo quod, dum esset carceratus, ad istantiam virorum nobilium ser Antonii Grandonico et ser Antonii de Priolis auditorum et sindicorum levantis, et Bonomus ebreus filius Moisi, qui ipsum quandoque visitabat in carceribus, falso et contra scientiam ipsius ser Antonii 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 .L., credens quod ipse Bonomus eos daret ipsi ser Antonio, sed ipse eos retinuit pro se, ut latius patet per processus camere ductus et placitatus fuit in Consilio de XL in quo sub die XXVIII februarii proxime elapsi primo posita fuit pars si videtur vobis pro ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Abbam ebreum, carceratum ad instantiam sindicorum levantis, qui postposito omni timore dominii nostri dedit Bonomo ebreo ducatos .L. auri ut eos daret pro subornatione viro nobili ser Antonio de Priolis sindico ut est dictum.
Datis atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXXIII fuerunt: non sinceris -11-8-, de non -12-16- et de parte -9-9- et quomodo nil captum fuit. Secondario, sub die primo instantis, posita dicta parte in dicto Consilio et datis atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXXII fuerunt: non sinceris -11-8-, de parte -5-5- et de non -16-19- et sic captum fuit de non et remansit absolutus.
1452, 30 October
Abba del Medigo di Candia, tried on a charge of having crucified lambs at Passover, in contempt of the Christian religion, incarcerated at Venice, is accused of having committed blasphemous acts in his cell against the faith in Christ. Abba is condemned.
Asv, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650 (I), c. 49rv.
Die XXX octobris MCCCCLII, indictione prima. Abba Moisis del Medigo ebreus, contra quem processum fuit per dominos advocatores comunis et offitium suum in eo et pro eo quod, dum esser carceratus per sindicos levantis inculpatus de crucifixione agni, parvipendens Dominum nostrum et spiritu diabolico ductus, quodam die accepta zangula de loco suo eam in vilipendium crucifixi posuit sub ymagine Jesu Christi crucifixi dumque carcerati redarguerentur eum cepit dicere quod domina nostra virgo Maria fuerat incantatrix et docuerat Jesum talia facere et quod habuerat tres viros et alios filios, diridendo de miraculis virginis predicte, ut latius patet per processus camere. Ductus et placitatus fuit in Consilio de XL in quo posita fuit pars si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Abbam ebreum Moisis de Cretta qui existens carceratus propter fidem, ductus spiritu diabolico in maximam ignominiam fidei catolice multa turpissima verba dixit contra virginem Mariam et Jesum Christum, accipiendo zangulam et eam ponendo ante crucifixum ut est dictum.
Datis atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXVIII fuerunt: non sinceris -11-, de non -2- et de parte -15-. Capto itaque de procedendo, positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod iste Abbas stare debeat uno anno in carceribus et solvat libras mille advocatoribus comunis.
3. Venice1454, 7 June
Abba di Mosè del Medigo and other Jews from Candia are accused of having crucified a lamb on Passover 1451, as they were accustomed to do every year, in contempt for Jesus and the Christian religion. Abba and the other accused, arrested and transferred to the prisons of Venice, are tried before the Maggior Consiglio.
Asv, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3650 (Il), cc. 9v-lOr.
Die septimo junii MCCCCLIIII, indictione II. Abas quondam Moisi ebreis absolutus sed tamen contra quem processum fuit per dominos advocatores comunis et offitium suum in eo et pro eo quod dum alias viri nobiles ser Laurentius Honoradi et ser Antonius Gradonico olim sindici ad partes levantis se reperissent in civitate Candide et ad eorum aures, ex fama publica, pervenisset quod ebrei ibidem commorantes in vilipendium catolice fidei christiane omni anno crucifigebant unum agnum in sanctissimo die veneris sancti, ipsi sindici super fama publica examinaverunt multos testes. Postea, post recessum suum per regimen 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, ex quibus scripturis ipse Abbas et ceteri nominati in infrascripta testificatione fuerunt per sindicos placitati, collegiati et introducti ad Maius Consilius et in tertio consilio absoluti. Cumque ex postea dictum consilium absolutionis fuisset incisum propter placitare advocatores, ut patet in libro processum, modo condemnatione facta contra virum nobilem Hieronymum Lambardo et spectabilis vir dominus Nicolaus Bernardo tunc advocator comunis intromisisset ipsum Abbatem et successive dominus Antonius Diedo honorabilis advocator intrasset secum in oppinione una cum viris nobilibus ser Thadeo Justiniano, ser Antonio Gradonico et Candiano [Bolani] auditoribus et in hac parte sindicis accesserunt ad Consilium Maius et iterum introducentes solum ipsum Abbatem primo sub die XXI maii proxime preteriti posuerunt partem tenoris infrascripti: verum si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Abbatem quondam Moisi del Medigo ebreum qui, postposito omni timore huius christianissime rei publice, in maximum opproprium fidei catolicae ausus fuit, una cum aliquibus aliis perfidis ebreis, in civitate nostra Candide in die veneris sancti renovare misteria passionis domini nostri Jesu Christi et crucifixerunt unum agnum, quod etiam ipse Abbas in domo sua fecit ut est dictum.
Datis atque receptis in ipso consilio ballotis -307- quia ipsum consilium poterat in presenti casu esse in ordine cum ballotis -300-, vigore partis capte propter hoc modo ipso consilio fuerunt: non sinceris -91-69-, de non -85-95- et de parte -131-142- et quomodo nihil captum fuit.
Secundario sub die VII junii presentis introducto modo ipso consilio casu predicto et datis atque receptis ballotis -500- fuerunt: non sinceris 123-, de parte -123- et de non -254- et sic remansit absolutus.
4. Venice1463, 29 December
The Consiglio dei Dieci di Venezia grant the merchant David Mavrogonato di Candia, his children and descendants, a series of privileges for having revealed a conspiracy hatched at Venice in 1461 to the detriment of Venice, and for having contributed to the condemnation of the defendants On 10 February 1464, Mavrogonato asked that the privilege be extended to his business associate, the banker Salomone da Piove di Sacco.
Asv, Inquisitorato agli Ebrei, envelope 19, doc. no. 3 (copy in ASV, Inquisitorato agli Ebrei, envelope 39).
1463, die 29 decembris. Cum David Mavrogonato Judeus de Creta esset pro suis agendis Mercator in Venetiis et in Appellatione coram Auditoribus Sententiarum et unus papa Cretensis revelasset Capitibus el Consilio .X. certam suspitionem tradimenti et vellet esse secretus, visum fuit Capitibus Consilii .X. quod ipse David, qui fuerat Interpres papatis, relictis rebus suis et Appellatione sua, iret in Cretam ad denotandum Regi Cretae et capi faciendum nominatos et suspectos, quam rem idem David libenter fecit et sagaciter executus fuit omnia.
Cumque ibi stando, pro una re habuisset quamdam notitiam de Joanne Gavala, qui volens reincendere proditionem Siffi miserat Litteram et postea percusserat Joannem Milisino, pro qua causa cum ignotum esset quis scripserat illam Litteram et quis percusserat, per Regimen Cretae publicata et per istud Consilium .X. confirmata fuit talea danda yppr tria statim et .V. singulo Anno et participatio officiorum et beneficiorum cum Descendentibus et tres bannitos, sicut constat per Litteras Regis Cretae. Ipse David die 12 Mensis Octobris dedit notitiam Regi Cretae de hac re, cumque Regimen non ita cito ad inquirendum et procedendum attendisset, die 18 Mensis Novembris Regimen Rethimi inquisivit et processit, et captum Gavala mori fecit, nullo dato praemio denunciatori nec ibi, nec hic, quam de Mensis Octobris conscientia et accusatio ipsius facta fuerat Regi Cretae.Cumque praedictus David, nunc reversus ad Capita, exposuisset incomoda sua cum eundo, stando et redeundo de Mandato Capitum .X. passus fuit et publicum odium, quod ipse in tota insula tam per Christianos quam per Judeos acquisisset, cum jam digito mostraretur ab omnibus, tam pro prima causa quam pro ista secunda, nec petat propter hoc praemium Taleae, sed solum gratiam Dominij et infrascriptas petitionem et justum sit ac conveniens honori Nostri Dominij et exemplo aliorum quod non per charitatem sed per praemia serviunt, quod pro retributione fidei suae ad Dominum Nostrum et pro recognitione laborum et accusationum suarum, postquam non petit limitatam taleam, aliquid sibi per Nos concedatur, quod sit publicum signum gratitudinis. Et audito Consilio et responsione Regis Cretae super denuntia et super Judaeis Castellorum et etiam Nobilis Viri ser Leonis Duodo ultimi Duche Cretae.
Vadit Pars quod, excepto Capitulo de extrahendo aliquem de Banno, dictae petitiones sibi concedantur, tenor quarum talis est videlicet:
MCCCCLXIII. Ser. Ducali Dominio, suoque Excellenti Consilio supplicat et reverenter petit fidelis Servus suus David q. Eliae Mavrogonato, Zudio de L'isola Vestra de Crede. Cum sit, che per lui sia sta' fatto e compidamente esequito tutto quello li fò commesso per Magnifico Signor Cavi di .X. in andar in Candia, e poi revelado el fatto de Zan Milisino per lo qual vene in le vostre man Zuanne Gavala, el qual aveva taja yppr. . III. de subito e yppr. .V. all'Anno, partecipazion de officij e beneficij con suo Descendenti in perpetuo, e cavar trè de bando, confermada per lo Excellente Consejo de .x., de le qual cose faza la Vostra Clemenzia quanto li par e piase, o per la so Fameja, la qual è povera proveda a so piacer perché se trova in gran povertade.
+ E sel par alla Vostra Signoria che domanda, Io supplico che per le Colte, le qual nui Zudij pagemo in Crede, Io David con mie Fioli e tutti Descendenti in perpetuum, ne per Zudij ne per altri mai non sia accresudi più di quello al presente Io son in Estimo, zoè pp. uno all' Anno, ne altra angaria ne possa esser messa mai più ne accresuda, ma sempre siano in lo Extimo ch'io sono al presente.
+ Item una Casetta a pepian so' de un Zudio, sotto la Casa de Sabatheo Caxani confiscada in Comun zà longo tempo, la qual se affitta alcune fiade yypr. .8. over .X. all' Anno, et alcuni Anni non se trova affittar, supplico sia concessa a mi e mie Discendenti liberamente in perpetuum.
+ Item perche il Mangano hà de sovra una Terrazza, qual el Reggimento de Crede ogni do Anni convien far conzar e reparar, e spende yppr. .L. e da la in suso, Supplico me sia concessa quella Terrazza, ch'è solo lajere, sulla qual Io possi edificar qualche Casa, e quella Terra vacua, la qual i se daladi, della qual utilità alcuna non se hà, azochè per quella Io abbia la mia Entrada sù quella Terrazza, supplico me sia concesso passa .IIII. per larghezza e per longhezza, quanto è la Casa del dito Mangano, siando tegnudo tegnirlo in colmo a mie spese.
+ Item degnasse le Vostre Magn. veder la resposta del Reggimento de Crede per lo abitar di Zudijin li Castelli Vostri, Castel nuovo e Castel Bonifacio, e de gratia conciederme che i predetti Zudei possa tornar ad abitar e star in li ditti Castelli con quelle condizion e muodi in tutto si como i stava avanti che de là i fosse remossi. Recordando alla Vostra Signoria che tal abitazion sarà cum segurtà del Vostro Stado, perché i ama el Stado Vostro e mostrolo cum effetto al tempo della rebellion gran da e per i sui privileggi el se dichiara e pruova. Item el sarà cum utele della Signoria per la entrada de quelli Castelli.
+ Item degnasse la Vostra Signoria reffarli la Lettera lui ave dalle Vostre Magn., quando per quelle el fò mandado in Crede, azochè el sia libero da Corsari e mala zente, e questo in vita soa. + Item se degni conciederli ch'el non porta segno del.O. per suo salude, e ch' el possi portare Arme cun uno appresso de sì per segurtà della sua Persona, azochè da qualche Villan over altra mala persona non li possi esser fatta violenzia over vergogna e mal per quello la fatto per Vui.
+ Item li sia concesso poder cavar de Bando per puro omicidio do Persone solamente. Ex margine: 1463, die primo Februarij. David praedictus dixit et declaravit quod Socius suus, signi non portans et arma (portans), est Salomon qm. Marci  (de Plebesacci), cujus auxilio et consilio usus fuit in praedictis et omnia praedicta.
5. Venice1473, 3 September
Anselmo (Asher, Hossar) "with the beard", a German Jew of Venice, smuggler and alchemist, is arrested by the Avogaria di Comun for having sold two false gold bars to a Venetian artisan, defrauding the assayer of Rialto.
Asv, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3653 (Il), cc. 44v-45r .
Die III septembris (1473). Anselmus iudeus a barba, contra quem processus fuit et est per antescriptos dominos advocatores in Consilio XL pro eo quod, ad finem defraudandi mercationis et maioris sui lucri, ausus est in fundo denariorum fundellorum, ubi sollitum est accipi sagium argenti, fundidit aliquantum limature aurri itaquod videbatur argentum ipsum tenere aurum in multis [...]ractis. Sicque cum ipsis fundelis accessit ad sagiatorem folee auri in Rialto, qui sagium fecit et fecit bulletinum ipsi iudeo prout solitum est fieri, quem postea argentum dictus Anselmus vendidit Joanni Antonio partitori in eiusdem danno et deceptione. Ex quo formato processu tanquam prefati domini accedentes ad Consilium XL posuerunt processum infrascripti tenoris: si videns vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Anselmum iudeum pro istis duobus fundellis argenti fundatis, demonstrantibus tenere aurum et non tenentibus nisi in locis in quibus solit acceperi sagium per sagiatorem comunis, vinditis Joanni Antonio partitori ad eiusdem deceptionem et dannum maximum, ut est dictum.
Quod datis atque receptis in ipso Consilio sub die ultimo augusti proxime ballotis XXVI fuerunt non sinceros -16-14-, de non -2-1-, de crocedendo -18 (recte: 8)-11-, et quomodo nil captum fuit. Fuit secundario in prefato Consilio per dictos advocatores sub die infrascripto III septembris posita ipsa pars, verum si videbitur vobis in omnibus ut supra; et datis atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXVI fuerunt non sinceris -10-, de non -2-, de procedendo -14-.
Captum ibidem de procedendo et positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod iste Anselmus compleat menses sex in carceribus, perpetuo privetur possendi exercere mercaturam auri et argenti grezorum Venetiis, sub pena ammissionis argenti et auri in quibus dere[...]ro contrafacente. Et quod istud argentum fraudis commisse sit ammissum quod totum sit Advocatorum comunis: ita tamenquod primo et ante omnia detracta infrascripti argenti satisfiat infrascripto Joanni Antonio partitori  pro eo quod habere restat, et quod postea advocatores comunis habeant pro tanta summa regressum con tra Anselmum supradictum, et quod non incipiat tempus carceriorum nisi prius cum integritate satisfecerit et restituerit denarios suos Joanni Antonio partitori descripto. Verum si casus mortis ipsius Anselmi occurreret aut quod de carceribus aufugerit et tot bona ipsius Anselmi non invenientur, tunc argentum predictum, ad manus Advocatorum perventum, obligatum sit integre satisfactioni infrascripti Joanni Antonio.
6. Venice1472, 29 May
A network of counterfeit money smugglers is discovered by the Venetian authorities. The fraudulent trade, directed at the Venice market from Ferrara, is headed by the banker Salamoncino da Piove di Sacco and his right-hand man, Zaccaria di Isacco. The persons responsible, both Jews and Christians, are arrested and sentenced to various penalties.
ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3635 (Il), cc. 8v-9v.
Die XXVIIII maii, MCCCCLXXII, indictione Vta. Joannes Antonius de Mediolano et Abundius de Cumis, contra quos et quemlibet quorum fuit et est processum per antescriptos dominos Advocatores comunis et officium suum in Consilio de XL, in eo et pro eo quod confessi fuerunt se pluries conduxisse e Ferraria Venetias multam quantitatem monetarum argenti falsarum, verum grossetos et grossones ad similitudinem stampe Dominii Nostri, quas monetas scienter accipiebant a fabricatoribus illarum et illas, renduetas Venetias, dispensabant diversis personis, a quibus habebant ad incontrum ducatos auri et argentum cum certa sua utilitate de tot pro centenario, ut de predictis latius patet per processum camere, quare ducti et placitati cum fuissent per antedictos dominos Advocatores comunis in dicto consilio sub die XXVII mensis maii suprascripti, in quo primo posita fuit pars huius tenoris contra Joannem Antonium, verum: cum Joannes Antonius de Mediolano, habitator Ferrariae, confessus fuerat se pluries conduxisse Venetias multam quantitatem monetarum argenti falsarum ad similitudinem stampe Dominii Nostri, scienter acceptam Ferrarie a fabricatoribus illarum, et illa dispensasse diversis personis, a quibus habuit ad incontrum ducatos auri et argentum cum sua utilitate, vadit pars quod, auctoritate huius consilii, idem Joannes Antonius intelligatur et sit incursus penas legis Maioris Consilii 1454 lecta huic Consilio, verum quod postprandium conducatur in medio duarum colunnarum, ubi ipsi abscidatur manus dextera ita quod ex brachio separetur et eruantur ambo oculi et solvat ducatos mille.
Datis igitur atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXVII fuerunt non synceris - 14-15-, quod non sit incursus -8-7-, quod sit incursus -5-5.
Quocirca videntes prefati domini Advocatores intentionem Consilii sub die 29 infrascripto venerunt ad Consi lium predictum et relicta infrascripta prima parte qua pendebat posuerunt partem de procedendo, verum si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Joannem Antonium de Mediolano, habitatorem Ferrarie, et Abundium de Cumis confessos pluries conduxisse Venetias multam quantitatem monetarum falsarum ad similitudinem stampe Dominii Nostri, scienter emptam et acceptam Ferrarie a fabricatoribus illarum, et illam dispensasse diversis personis cum sua utilitate, ut est dictum. Datis igitur atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXVIIII fuerunt non synceris -0-, de non -0- de procedendo -XXVIIII-; capto itaque de procedendo et positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod Joannes Antonius infrascriptus hodie postprandium hora solita conducatur in medio duarum colunnarum, ubi per ministrum iustitie sibi abscidatur manus dextera et eruatur unus oculus et solvat ducatos quingentos auri Advocatoribus, de quibus detur quartam partem accusatori, et postea banniatur de perpetuo de Venetiis et de omnibus terris et locis Dominii Nostri, tam a parte terre quam maris. Et si contrafecerit et captus fu[er]it; conducatur Venetias ubi in medio duarum colunnarum sibi eruantur alter oculus et remittatur ad bannum et sic publicetur. Et successive item alias fuit hec pars et capta verum quod iste Abondius hodie post prandium hora solita conducatur in medio duarum colunnarum, ubi per ministrum iustitie sibi abscidatur manus dextera et eruatur unus oculus et solvat ducatos Vc. auri Advocatoribus, de quibus detur quartum accusatori, et postea banniatur perpetuo de Venetiis et de omnibus terris et 10cis Dominii Nostri, tam a parte terre quam maris. Et si contrafecerit et captus fuerit, conducatur Venecias, ubi in medio duarum colunnarum sibi eruatur alter oculus et remittatur ad bannum et sic publicetur. Die II iunii publicata in schalis Rivoalti per Bagatinum preconem.
Die dicto. Salamoncinus Salomonis, hebreus de Plebesacci, contra quem fuit et est processum per infrascriptos dominos Advocatores in eo et pro eo quod, spiritu avaritie ductus, non contentus de usuris quibus pe(...) et ipse insidant, scienter se inmiscuit in acceptando et dispensando de monetis falsis cum utilitate ducatorum .X. pro centenario, sicut ad torturam confessus est et ut de predictis latius patet per processum camere. Quare ductus et placitatus fuit in Consilio de XL in quo posita demum fuit pars huius tenoris, verum: si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt, quod procedatur contra Salamoncinum filium Salomonis, feneratoris in Plebesacci, qui post posito timore Dominii Nostri, scienter acceptavit et dispensavit de monetis falsis suprascriptis cum utilitate ducatorum .X. pro centenario, ut est dictum.
Datis igitur atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballottis XXVIII fuerunt non sinceris - 1-, de non -0-, de parte -XXVII-; capto atque de procedendo et positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod iste Salamoncinus (de Plebesacci) stet menses sex in carceribus clausus et solvat ducatis duomille nostro Arsenatui et mille Advocatoribus nostris, qui dent quartum accusatori. Et non incipiat tempus carceris nisi cum integritate persolverit et deinde banniatur per annos decem de Venetiis et distrietus et Padua et territorio paduano. Et si tempore banni contrafecerit, stet anno in carcere et solvat ducatis mille et iterum remittatur ad bannum et sic publicetur in schalis Rivoalti. Die II iunii publicata in schalis Rivoalti per Bagatinum preconem.
Die dicto. Nicolaus Fugaçonus, becharius de Veneciis, et socii, contra quos processum fuit et est per antescriptos dominos Advocatores communis et offitium suum in consilio XL, in eo et pro eo quod etiam ipse habuit commertium cum Abundio infrascripto, conductore monetarum falsarum, a quo recepit satis bonam quantitatem dictarum falsarum pecuniarum, cum utilitate XIII pro centenario et fuit medius ad faciendum quod Salamoncinus (de Plebesacci) suprascriptus haberet de dictis monetis cum infrascripto Zacharia etiam iudeo sumti de predictis latius pate[n]te per processum camere, quare conductus et placitatus fuisset per prefatos dominos Advocatores comunis in Consilio de XL; demum posita fuit pars huius tenoris, verum si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Nicolaum Fugaçonum, Lau rentium Paulo et Zachariam iudeum, qui spiritu avaritie ducti, scienter acceptaverunt cum certa utilitate monetas argenti falsas, ex Ferraria Venetias conductas, illas dispensando pro bonis, ut est dictum.
Datis igitur atque receptis in ipso Consilio ballotis XXVIII fuerunt non synceris - 0-, de non -0-, de procedendo XXVIII. Capto itaque de procedendo et positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod iste Nicolaus Fugaçonus compleat annum in carcere et deinde banniatur per annos octo de Venetiis et districtu. Et si tempore huius banni contrafecerit et captus fuerit, pene predicte sibi duplicentur et remittatur ad bannum suum et quod banchum becharie sibi reservetur.
Laurentius Paulo compleat annum unum in carcere et solvat ducatos centum Advocatoribus et deinde banniatur per annos octo de Venetiis et districtu. Et si tempore huius banni contrafecerit et captus fuerit, pene predicte, tam carceris quam pecunie, sibi duplicentur et ad bannum declarando quod tempore huius banni possit assumi et ire pro scriba galearum nostrarum, non possendo tamen perpetuo venire intra confinia sub pena predicta et sic publicetur. Et sic publicata fuit die II iunii in scalis Rivoalti per Bagatinum preconem.
Zacharias iudeus quondam Isahach, hospes in Venetiis, compleat annum unum in carcere et solvat ducatos ducentos auri, quorum centum sunt nostri Arsenatui et alii centum Advocatorum comunis, et non incipiat tempus carceris nisi prius solverit et deinde banniatur per annos octo de Venetiis et districtu. Et si tempore banni contrafecerit, pene suprascripte sibi duplicentur et sic duplicetur.
7. Padua1481, 10 May
1485, 3 November
As a result of the dishonest bankruptcy of the Soave lending bank owned by David Schwab, involving, on the highest levels, the bankers Salamoncino da Piove di Sacco and Anselmo, son of Salomone da Camposampiero, the factor of the Soave bank is arrested at the petition of the small savers, left penniless. To represent them, the “rag paper maker” Aronne di Jacob da Wil. In 1481, the parties to the dispute, resorted to arbitration, apparently without any satisfying results, before two German rabbis from Padua, Isach Ingdam and Viviano da Vacheron.
ASP, Notarile, Luca Talmazzo, 251, c. 58r; Asp, Notarile, Ambrogio da Rudena, 779, c.460r
1481, indictione XIV, X maii. "In comune al disco dell'Orso".
Haron ebreus qm. Jacob, habitator in contrata Domi, parte una, Jacob qm. Salomonis de Plebe, suo nomine et Fais et Salamonis (= Salamoncini) fratrum, Isachetus qm. Consilii de contrata Strate, Enselmus,filius Salamonis de Campo Sancti Petri, nomine dicti eius patris, parte altera, super quibuscumque differentiis existentibus inter dictas partes, se compromiserunt in magistrum Isach Ingdam, hebreum habitatorem in contrata Domi, electum pro parte dicti Haron, et in magistrum Vivianum de Vaischoron, de contrata S. Canciani, electum per suprascriptos Jacob et socios, secundum morem, leges et stillum alme civitatis Veneciarum.
1485, indictione III, III Nov. "In comune, ad banchum ser Ambrosii de Rudena".
Cum de anno 1484, die 4 septembris, per dominum Bernardum Maripetro, capitaneum Suapis, in executione litterarum dominorum supragastaldionum civitatis Veneciarum, ad instantiam Aronis hebrei qm. Jacob (de Wil), strazaroli de Padua, et sociorum, uti creditorum banchi Suapis, intromissa fuerint nonnulla bona penes gubernatores et factores dicti banchi Suapis pro summa et quantitate ducatorum mille quingentorum auri vel circha, que quidem bona postmodum subtracta fuerint. Propter quod, ad instanciam dicti Aronis et sociorum, fuerat et sit incarceratus in carceribus comunis Padue Jacob qm. Lazari, uti factor tunc dicti banchi Suapis, ut ita dictus Jacob fassus est. Quapropter dictus Jacob, intendens se a dictis carceribus liberare, sponte consignavit in soluto dicto Aroni (de Wil), acceptanti nomine suo et consociorum suorum, excepto Henselmo, cum quo dictus Jacob dixit esse in concordia, ducatos .CLV. auri existentes penes Salamonzinum hebreum de Plebe, per ipsum habitos ab Henselmo filio David de Suave, nomine dicti Jacob,  absque tamen licentia et consensu dieti Jacob, ut dixit dictus Jacob. Quos denarios dictus Jacob affirmavit fuisse et esse dictorum bonorum intromissorum ad dictum banchum Suapis.
8. Venice1488, 22-23 May
Salamoncino da Piove sends an assassin, Isaia Teutonieo, to Venince, with the job of killing Aronne da Wil. The latter, although seriously wounded in the head, survives. The Avogaria di Comun proceeds with the arrest of Salamoncino and to the condemnation of the attacker in absentia.
ASV, Avogaria di Comun, Raspe, 3656 (Il), c. 72rv.
Die XXII maii, MCCCCLXXXVIII, indictione VI. Isayas iudeus theotonicus, solitus alias esse famulus Salamoncini iudei de Plebesacci, absens, contra quem processum fuit et est quod antescriptos Advocatores et officium suum in Consilio XL [...] criminalibus deputato in et pro eo quodcum coram officium suum in consilio prefatorum dominorum Advocatorum comunis cum gravissima querella comparuisset Aron quondam Jacob, iudeus (de Wil), et exposuisset quod quodam siro circa prima, in secundam horam noctis, dum veniret ab hospitio iudeorum de contracta sancti 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 sanguinis et fracturam longa per unum digitum, pro quo quidem delicto petebat iustitiam administrari et fieri debitas provisiones, unde quod domini Advocatores, cum de malefactore aliter noticiam habere non possent, accedentes ad prefatum consilium XL, proposuerunt casum et tandem ibidem posita et capta 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.
Unde formato diligenti processu seperinde domini Advocatores accesserunt ad prefatum Consilium, ubi posuerunt et sic captum fuit quod ipse Isayas retineretur propter ea ubicumque terrarum et locorum Dominii Nostri illustrissimi examinaretur, collegiaretur et cetera alliter proclamatus in schalis Rivoalti ad se defendendum, cum termino dierum octo qui dum non comparuisset imo in sua contumacia perseverasset,fuit absens placitatus in prefato Consilio per antescriptos dominos Advocatores, ita quo quidem posuerunt partem infrascripti tenoris: si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt, quod procedatur contra Isayam teothonieum iudeum, alias solitum esse famulum Salamoncini iudei de Plebesacci absentem, sed legitime citatum super schalis Rivoialti, ex eo quod, ad instantiam dicti Salamoncini, de mense januarii 1486, tempore noctis, percussit Aronem iudeum proditorie, una percussione de taleo super capite cum incisione et effusione sanguinis ac offensione ossis, ut est dictum.
Et datis atque receptis in ipso consilio ballotis XXX, omnes fuerunt de procedendo. Capto itaque de procedendo et positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod iste Isa yas sit bannitus perpetuo de Venetiis et districtu 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 amputatur et deinde, cum ea appensa ad collum, conducatur in medio duarum colunnarum ubi sibi caput a spatulis amputetur sie quod moriatur, et habeat quod illum reperit et dederit in vinis Nostri Dominii libras quingentas de bonis suis, si haberi potuerint, sin autem de bonis Nostri Dominii et publicetur super schalis Rivoalti. Die 14 maii infrascripti publicatus super schalis Rivoalti per Petrum Rubeum preconem in omnibus ut supra.
Die XXIII maii infrascripti Salamoncinus quondam Salamonis iudeus de Plebesacci, contra quem processus fuit et est per prefatos dominos Advocatores in prefato consilio XL ex eo quod, dum data fuisset talia suprascripta in Consilio XL super casu infrascriptis insultis et vulneris in personam infrascripti Aronis, et publicata in schalis Rivoalti, dictus Salamoncinus, credens habere beneficium talee suprascripte, venit ad officium advocarie se ipsum manifestavit et quomodo ipse erat in societate eiusdem Isaie suprascripti ut quod, eius Salamoncini causa motus, ipsum taliter vulneravatur sed huius am[...] verum causam fuisse quia sepius et continue fuerat molestatus Salamoncinus ipse in litibus ab ipso Arone, sicut per eius manifestationem in processu apparet, verum prefati domini Advocatores, considerantes formam et tenorem talee superinde date, inter cetera continentis quod, si cum percussore fuissent plures uno ad committendum dictum excessum, si unus eorum accusabit ipsum percussorem et auctorem dicte percussionis si quis fuit Advocatoribus comunis sicque per comunis accusam habeatur veritas, habeat taleam pecuniarum et esset absolutus ab omni pena in quam prope hoc posset incurrere ut in ea ligitur, non habentes nec tenentes prope hoc Salamoncinum ipsum, cum fuerit auctorem dicti delicti, posse gaudere vel habere beneficium talee, quandoquidem ex verbis [...] exctradatur auctor ipse a tali beneficio, accesserunt ad Consilium prefatum de XL ubi posuerunt et sic captum fuit quod ipse Salamoncinus, iam propter ea retentus, bene retentus remaneat ad petitionem Advocatorum comunis et pro clariori rei successus informatione et veritate iterum de plano examinetur, collegietur res sicque iterum examinatus, formato diligenti processu, patefactis omnibus fuit collegiatus et tandem  ductus et placitatus in eodem Consilio per prefatos dominos Advocatores, presens sese defendendo cum advocatoribus suis, in quo quidem tandem posita fuit pars tenoris infrascripti: si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt quod procedatur contra Salamoncinum quondam Salamonis de Plebesacci iudeum, qui fuit mandator et autor dicte percussionis ut est dictum.
Et datis atque receptis heri in primo consilio ballotis XXX fuerunt non sinceris -8- 6-, de non -7-9-, de procedendo -15-15-, et quomodo nil captum fuit. Secundario hodie in ipso consilio per eosdem dominos Advocatores in ipso Consilio posita ipsa pars, verum si videtur vobis per ea que dicta et lecta sunt, quod procedatur contra Salamoncinum et cetera in omnibus, ut supra. Et datis atque receptis in ipso consilio ballottis XXXIIII fuerunt non synceris -11-5-, de non -7-10-, de procedendo -16-19-. Capto itaque de procedendo et positis diversis partibus, captum fuit quod iste Salamoncinus compIere debeat menses sex in carceribus clausus, solvat ducatos ducenti auri, quorum centum sint hospitali Pietati, alii vero centum sint Advocatoribus comunis, sit postea bannitus per annos quatuor. Et si quo tempore contrafecerit banno et captus fuerit, stet per annum in carceribus clausus et solvat alios ducatos ducentos auri, quorum centum sint ipsorum Advocatorum comunis et alii centum dentur capienti illum, et hoc tociens obprovetur quotiens contrafecerit. Et publicatur super schalis Rivoalti. Die 14 maii 1488 publicata super schalis Rivoalti per Petrum Rubeum preconem in omnibus ut supra.
9. Pavia5236 (= 1476), March
The banker Manno di Aberlino (Mendele b. Abraham) of Pavia sends a message in Hebrew to the physician Omobono (Simcha Bunim Sal) of Venice, pharmacist at San Cassiano. Charged with delivering the missive to the addressee is the priest, Paolo da Novara, amanuensis in the Trent trials, on the order of Giovanni Hinderbach, later accused of being in the pay of the Jews of the Duchy of Milan with the job of poisoning the Trent bishop. In the letter, Manno recommends that Omobono reassure his Christian creditor, a certain Tommaso, probably from Venice, who is demanding the payment of 42 ducats. The Pavian banker undertakes to transfer the sum without delay, as agreed. Manno warns Omobono to pay attention to what the courier of the letter, i.e., Paolo da Novara, has to communicate to him, so as to be able to take what may appear to him to be the most suitable decisions at a later time.
AST, Archivio Principesco Vescovile, s.1., 69, 68.
Rivolga Dio il suo volto verso di te e ponga su di te la pace.
Al dotto, operoso e caro parente, l'esperto medico Simcha (Omobono) Sal, che Dio conservi in vita.
Ho ricevuto un messaggio scritto dal nostro amico messer Tommaso, che mi chiede 42 ducati perché è venuto il momento di pagarglieli. E così intendo fare, inviandoglieli con una persona di fiducia, come è giusto. Comunicagli la cosa a nome mio, assicurandolo che manterrò appieno le mie promesse.
Se il latore di questa lettera ti parlerà, prestagli ascolto e poi decidi secondo la tua intelligenza. Stammi in pace, secondo i tuoi desideri ed i desideri del tuo parente e umile servitore Manno.
Al sapiente e alacre medico, il magnifico messer Si. (?)
Bunim (Omobono) Gerta Sal, che Dio conservi in vita.