CV 98 David Abulafia and Robert Bonfil, “Italy,” in Robert Chazan, ed., The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 6 – The Middle Ages: The Christian World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 98-128, 885-886

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  CV 98 David Abulafia and Robert Bonfil, “Italy,” in Robert Chazan, ed., The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 6 – The Middle Ages: The Christian World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 98-128, 885-886
  chapter 5 ITALY  david abulafia and robert bonfil THE SOUTH david abulafia  Until the late fourteenth century, by far the greatest concentration of Jewsin Italy was to be found in the south, within the two kingdoms of Sicily   – the mainland kingdom (often called the Kingdom of Naples) and theisland kingdom, which both srcinated in the elevation of the NormanRoger II to the crown of Sicily in  1130 . Whereas the Jewish communities of northern Italy grew in the late Middle Ages following immigration fromFrance into Piedmont and from Germany into the Po Valley, the Jews of Rome, southern Italy, and Sicily had been there for centuries, appearing already in Cicero ’ s biting orations against Verres. The sense that Jews werenotoutsidersbutpartofthefabricofsocietyremainedalivethroughouttheMiddleAges,evenifpopularhostilitygrewinthe 󿬁 fteenthcentury.Forthe Jews were protected not merely by rulers who valued their presence (oftenenough for 󿬁 nancial reasons), but also by the character of a region in whichGreek Orthodox, Armenians, Slav and Albanian settlers, Waldensian here-tics, and, for a while, Muslims all intermingled, the Jews being oneminority among many. The Jews were, if anything, one of the more stableelements in this shifting population. Ethnic and religious diversity pro-vided what was generally a safe environment.The Jews of southern Italy andSicily were notisolated. Until the twelfthcentury, the Jews of Apulia enjoyed close links with the Byzantine world,fortheregionhadbeenunderByzantineruleuntil 1070 .ThoseofSicily,onthe other hand, lived under Muslim rule until the Norman conquest, which began in the  1060 s, and maintained intimate ties with North Africa, Spain, and Egypt; these links are amply represented in the lettersof the Cairo Genizah. 1 In some southern Italian towns,  5  percent of the 1 Relevant documents are collected in M. Ben-Sasson,  Yehude Sitsilyah,  825  –  1068  : Te  ’   udot u-Mekorot   (Jerusalem,  1991 ). 98  urban population was probably Jewish. At the same time, it would be wrong to treat their existence as idyllic. The heavy involvement of Jews inthe dyeing of cloth and in slaughterhouses may be a survival of Byzantinepractices whereby physically unpleasant jobs such as tanning and dyeing  were passed to the Jews. Moreover, the pro 󿬁 ts that the monarchy couldmake from taxes on the Jews encouraged the region ’ s rulers to take themdirectly under their own protection.It is impossible to say when signi 󿬁 cant numbers of Jews  󿬁 rst settled insouthern Italy. Venosa, in the interior of southern Italy, still preserves its Jewish catacombs, and there are many Hebrew inscriptions from the city,suggesting that there was a lively community of Jews in the sixth to ninthcenturies. Jewish settlements 󿬂 ourished in the Byzantine southeast of Italy.Here one of the major centers of Jewish scholarship was Oria.The reputation for learning of the Apulian Jews was summarized in thesaying:  “ From Bari shall go forth the Law, and the word of the Lord fromOtranto. ”  A sense of the glories of these communities can also be gainedfrom the mid-eleventh-century chronicle of Ahima  ’ az, rich in legendsabout successful dealings between the Jews and the Byzantine emperors. 2  At the end of the tenth century, the physician, astronomer, and Hebrew scholar Shabbetai Donnolo appears to have had good personal relations with the charismatic monk Nilus of Rossano. 3  As for Sicily, the Cairo Genizah documents shed a powerful light ongroups of prosperous and highly mobile merchants who traded throughPalermo and Mazara, supplying cotton to the looms of North Africa,trading in silk from Spain and  󿬂 ax from Egypt, and conveying spicesbrought out of the Indian Ocean across the southern Mediterranean.Sicily was one of the hubs of the Genizah network. Mazara became thegrand terminal for shipping bound from Egypt, bringing   󿬂 ax to Sicily andsending silk eastward. 4  Sicily had large areas given over to pasture, and it isno surprisethat good-qualityleather, sometimes gilded,and koshersheep ’ scheese were among the prized exports of the island. 5 These mercantile linkspeakedintheearlyeleventhcentury;by  1200 ,thedirectionofSiciliantrade was shifting northward to Genoa, Pisa, and Venice, and the era of the 2 M. Salzmann,  The Chronicle of Ahimaaz   (New York,  1924 ); A. Sharf,  The Universe of  Shabbetai Donnolo  (Warminster,  1976 ),  9 . 3 Sharf,  Universe  , esp.  14 – 17 . 4  S. D. Goitein,  “ Sicily and Southern Italy in the Cairo Geniza Documents, ”  Archiviostorico per la Sicilia orientale   67  ( 1971 ),  10 ,  14 ,  16 . 5 S. D. Goitein,  A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza,  vol. I:  Economic Foundations   (Berkeley, 1967 ),  111 ; Goitein,  “ Sicily and Southern Italy, ”  31 ; A. Feniello,  Sotto il segno del Leone:storia dell  ’   ltalia musulmana   (Bari,  2011 ),  165 – 6 . italy 99  Genizah merchants was at an end. 6 These economic changes formed partof a wider set of political changes in the Mediterranean around  1100 .The major political change in the region was the coming of Normanknights who conquered southern Italy and all of Sicily. The fundamentalfeature of Norman rule was respect for existing institutions, and the arrivalof the Normans made little difference to the economic activities of the Jews, though gradual changes occurred in their legal status, and (froma cultural perspective) the late eleventh century and early twelfth century seem to mark the end of the golden age of Apulian Jewry. One of its morecolorful  󿬁 gures was the son of a Norman knight, Obadiah the Proselyte, who adapted to Jewish use the church music with which he was familiar. 7  Whether there was a rash of such conversions is hard to say: in oneextraordinary incident, the archbishop of Bari, Andreas, supposedly became a Jew, but  󿬂 ed to Constantinople and Egypt out of harm ’ s way,a story that may just be hostile gossip disseminated by enemies who forcedhim out of his see. A further indication of the relatively untroubled state of the Jewishcommunity comes from the reign of the  󿬁 rst Norman king of Sicily andsouthern Italy, Roger II. In  1153  a Jew exchanged some land with an abbessin order to acquire a plot between the main synagogue of Naples anda nearby church. The aim was to establish a small school and house of prayeronthenewsite. 8  Adozenorsoyearslater,theSpanishJewBenjaminof Tudela visited southern Italy, and recorded the existence of   󿬂 ourishing communities in Salerno, Capua, and Benevento, in all of which theirnumbers supposedly ran into the hundreds, and in the case of Naples,thousands. 9  Jews were active in wine production, and the tanning and silk industries, and the impression is of a largely artisan population.Moneylending, as Thomas Aquinas would later testify in his letter to theduchess of Brabant, was not their trade.In the thirteenth century, the age of relative toleration (if that is not toooptimistic a term) ended, and a new period of forced conversions and 6 DavidAbula  󿬁 a,  The Two ltalies: Economic Relations between the Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Northern Communes   (Cambridge,  1977 ); David Abula  󿬁 a,  The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean  (London,  2011 ),  295 – 6 . 7  J. Prawer,  “ The Autobiography of Obadyah the Norman, ”  in I. Twersky, ed.,  Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature   (Cambridge, MA,  1979 ),  110 – 34 . 8 N. Ferorelli,  Gli Ebrei nell  ’   Italia meridionale dall  ’   età romana al secolo XVIII  , ed.F. Patroni Grif  󿬁  (Naples,  1990 ),  59 . 9 M. N. Adler, ed.,  The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela   (London,  1907 ),  7 – 9 ;C. Colafemmina,  “ L ’ itinerario pugliese di Beniamino da Tudela, ”  Archivio storico pugliese   37  ( 1975 ),  81 – 100 ; C. Roth,  The History of the Jews of Italy   (Philadelphia, 1946 ),  74 – 81 . 100 the middle ages: the christian world  migrations began, in which the monarchy and the Church were heavily implicated. The south Italian Jews entered the history of western Europe,detached from their historic ties to Byzantium and the Maghreb. Frederick II ’ s reign marks the beginning of the process of transition. He was heavily in 󿬂 uenced by papal thinking on the way of treating the Jews withina speci 󿬁 cally Christian society. The multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic Sicily of the twelfth century, containing Greeks, Muslims, and Latinsalongside Jews, gave way under the later Normans to an increasingly monocultural society, comprising primarily Latin Christians. 10 The removal of the Muslim population from Sicily left the Jews as thesole non-Christian element in the island ’ s population. Papal in 󿬂 uence onFrederick  ’ s legislation can already be seen in his decrees issued at Messina inthe spring of   1221 . Jews were classed alongside prostitutes as outcasts whothreatened contamination; each group must be made visible by its costume,and where appropriate physically segregated from the mass of Christians.Thiswasidealizedlegislation,forthereisnoevidencethatJewsweremadeto wearthecostumethatwasprescribed.Infurtherlegislationof  1231 ,Frederick  warned against persecuting Jews and Muslims, who must have the samerightto initiate legal proceedings as anyoneelse,andwho are at the momenttoo severely persecuted. Although, in the same code of laws, he tried to limitthe rate of interest Jews could charge, there is no evidence that the Jews of the Sicilian kingdom were heavily involved in moneylending; these provi-sionssimplydemonstratehisindebtednesstocurrentpapalthinking.Infact,Frederick encouragedNorth African JewstosettleinPalermo,to replace theskills of the expelled Muslim population by cultivating specialized commer-cial crops such as henna and indigo. 11  An important feature of Frederick  ’ s treatment of the Jews was hisclassi 󿬁 cation of his Jewish subjects as  servi camere regie   ( “ servants of theroyal chamber ” ), a term which indicated that they were the ruler ’ s directdependants, but that he would protect them and expected them to behonored by non-Jews for the service they did to the king. The idea of therulerpossessingtheJews,inacertainsense,isalreadyvisibleintheNormanperiod. Con 󿬁 rming Sichelgaita  ’ s grant of the Jews to the archbishop of Palermo in the late eleventh century, Frederick stated that the Jews  “ areyours and of the Church of Palermo and are subject to you and to theChurch in all things. ” 12  Although the concept of Jews belonging in some 10 David Abula  󿬁 a,  “ The End of Muslim Sicily, ”  in James M. Powell, ed.,  Muslims under Latin Rule,  1100 –  1300  (Princeton,  1990 ),  103 – 33 . 11 David Abula  󿬁 a,  Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor   (London,  1988 ),  335 – 6 . 12 “ Vestri sint et ecclesie panormitane et vobis et ecclesie subditi in omnibus ” : B. andG. Lagumina,  Codice diplomatico dei Giudei di Sicilia  , Documenti per servire alla storia  italy 101  sense to the royal or imperial  󿬁 sc can be traced back to twelfth-century Germany, Castile, and Aragon, the precise phrase  servi camere nostre   was 󿬁 rst used by Frederick II in his Jewry privilege issued for Germany in  1236 .Out of this phrase has developed a whole literature on the meaning of theterm  “ chamber serfdom, ”  which is itself a misconceived translation of a much more subtle concept: the Jews were as much the ruler ’ s ministersor agents as they were his direct dependants (with  servi   not to be under-stood as  “ serfs ” ). 13 Soon after the German privilege, we see the conceptcross the Alps as Frederick himself moves down from Germany throughnorthern Italy to Sicily: a privilege issued at Brescia in November  1237 exempted the  magister   Busach (Abu lshaq), described as  iudeus medicus,servus camere nostre  , from taxes customarily paid by the Jews of Palermo, inrewardforhis servicia. 14   Atthispoint,theterm servuscamere nostre  seemstohave been used on an individual basis in Sicily, though it was applied moregenerallyinGermany.Meanwhile,thepapacycomplained,inAugust 1236 ,that Frederick had stamped on the rights of the Church in Sicily, and oneissue was  “ the Jewries seized from certain Churches. ” 15 Frederick repliedthat all Jews, both in the Empire and in his kingdom, were immediately subject to his authority. 16 Political strife in Italy in the thirteenth century had a severe impact onthe Jews. The arrival in southern Italy of the Angevin dynasty in  1266 signalled the coming of a new, anti-talmudic approach to Judaism, whichhad developed particularly in the circle of King Louis IX of France, whosebrother Charles now became king of Sicily and southern Italy, though helost the island to the king of Aragon following the revolt of the Vespers atPalermo in March  1282 . 17 There is no evidence that Charles shared hisbrother ’ s visceral hatred of Judaism, but he did permit the convertManuforte to organize anti-Jewish preaching, with the result that he di Sicilia, ser.  1 , vol.  6  (Palermo,  1884 ), I, no. xii,  9 – 10 ; no. xvi,  12 – 14 ; also (evidence from 1195 )R.Straus, Gli ebreidi Siciliadai Normannia Federico II  ,trans.S.Siragusa(Palermo, 1992 ),  97 . 13  Anna Sapir Abula  󿬁 a,  Christian –   Jewish Relations   1000 –  1300 : Jews in the Service of  Christendom  (Harlow,  2011 ). 14  S. Simonsohn,  The Jews in Sicily,  vol. I:  383 –  1300  (Leiden,  1997 ), no.  214 ; also Lagumina,I,  27 – 8 . 15 Simonsohn,  The Jews in Sicily  , no.  212 . 16 Ibid., no.  213 ; J. Aronius,  Regesten zur Geschichte der juden im fränkischen und deutschenReiche bis zum jahre   1273  (Berlin,  1902 ), no.  498 . 17  Joshua Starr,  “ The Mass Conversion of Jews in Southern Italy ( 1290 – 93 ), ”  Speculum  21 ( 1946 ),  203 ; David Abula  󿬁 a,  “ Monarchs and Minorities in the Late Medieval WesternMediterranean: Lucera and its Analogues, ”  in Scott L. Waugh and Peter D. Diehl, eds., Christendom and its Discontents: Exclusion, Persecution and Rebellion,  1000 –  1500 (Cambridge,  1996 ),  234 – 63 . 102 the middle ages: the christian world
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