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Caption of map: Ritual Homicide Accusations in the 15th century

It was in February of 1469 that Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III, traveling from Rome, made his solemn entrance at Venice with a long retinue for which that which was to be his third and last official visit to the city which he so loved and admired [1].It was to be his first visit to the City of Venice since his triumphant reception immediately following his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in Rome in 1452 [2].

As was customary on these magnificent occasions, Friedrich spent entire days in diplomatic meetings and in receiving the official visits of ambassadors, and in conferring diplomas, stipends and privileges of all sorts upon beneficiaries selected from long lists of names prepared by his officials, as dictated by imperial interests and his own. In those days, intriguers, wheeler-dealers and adventurers attached to the monarch’s court, or who thought they were, toiled with a calculated industriousness to intercede in favor of various persons seeking official ratification of their own professional and economic success; of priests, patricians and academics bent upon crowning their own cursus honorum through the attainment of some precious imperial investment, or those of a variety of ethnic and religious communities intent on achieving confirmation of their ancient or recent privileges, not to mention merchants and intriguers intent on covering up affairs of dubious honesty and scraping up advantages for themselves during the solemn visit [3].

Friedrich was known as a fanatical and often naive collector of relics of all types. It is not therefore surprising that the objectives of his trip to Venice should have included a passionate and unrestrained hunt for relics, hawked about in abundance by wheeler-dealers and impertinent intermediaries at high prices, a fact noted with malicious humor by Michele Colli, a salt superintendent, in a report sent from Venice to the Duke of Milan, in which he cast doubt on Friedrich's alleged competence

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where relics were concerned. According to the Milanese official, the Emperor, in this type of business, which he presumed to carry out directly and without regard to price, was a sucker to be plucked assiduously, adding, to add to the ridicule, half-seriously half facetiously, that "certain Greeks sold him dead bones including the tail of the ass that brought Christ to Bethlehem" [4].

On this occasion, some supposed relics of Saint Vigilius found their way to Venice in the hands of a loving and faithful subject of Friedrich, Giovanni Hinderbach, a famous humanist and man of the Church who had traveled from Trent to the City of the Lagoons, not only to present the Emperor with the highly-valued relics, but above all as an act of gratitude, on the occasion of his receipt of his much sought-after investiture of the temporality of the episcopate of Trent. Again, it was Colli who informed the Duke of Milan that "His Illustrious Majesty invested the Bishop of Trent with a thousand temporal solemnities and celebrations" [5]. But Hinderbach was not the only person to have undertaken the uncomfortable journey from Trent to Venice during the German Emperor’s distinguished presence in the city.

Tobias da Magdeburg and cruel ritual murder of Little Simon of Trent

Tobias da Magdeburg was an obscure Jewish herb alchemist who, after traveling down from his native Saxony and finding exile among the mountains of the region of Trent, practiced the art of medicine and surgery with some success, at least on the local market. A few years later, he was to meet Hinderbach under much unhappier circumstances, under indictment for participation in the cruel ritual murder of Little Simon and admitting his guilt, he was to meet a cruel death at the stake, accompanied by the confiscation of all his goods. [6]

Maestro Tobias appears to have been acting in accordance with other motives during the Emperor’s official visit to Venice, particularly, the possibility of meeting large groups of German Jews arriving from the other side of the Alps along with Friedrich’s baggage train, many of whom Tobias looked forward to seeing again after years of involuntary separation. There was no shortage of German Jews at Venice in February of 1469: disciplined, humble, but totally self-absorbed and self-interested.

In his depositions before the judge of Trent in 1475,Tobias was not exaggerating when, after recalling his own presence in the city during "His Most Serene Highness’s visit to Venice", he stressed that many Jewish merchants, in crossing the Alpine barrier, had actually traveled from the German territories to the City of the Lagoons for the purpose of acquiring a wide variety of high-priced goods without paying taxes or duty of any kind, passing them off

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as goods owned by the Emperor, in whose baggage train they were said to have found their way back to Germany. This astute and bold stratagem was well worth the physical and economic cost of the difficult trip to the city of the Doges [7].

But Tobias’s presence in Venice was not due to any mere nostalgia for the people among whom he had been born and grew up. As a physician, and as a Jewish physician in particular, he knew that the Emperor, during his visit, would, as he was normally accustomed to do, grant doctoral degrees in medicine to a swarm of more or less highly recommended candidates, including a few Jews. In fact, it was during that same February of 1469 that Friedrich granted a license permitting the College of Physicians of San Luca, an institution of higher learning teaching students of various origins -- not just Venetians -- to confer the insignia of Imperial Authority upon eight medical degrees per year [8]. Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, recalled the manner in which Friedrich graduated a swarm of medical students during his second visit to Italy.

The number of Jews on the Emperor’s lists of candidates remains unknown. Nor do we know who filed the petitions to inscribe these Jewish candidates, or the methods used, or the reasons for doing so. We only know that many Jewish physicians, of various origins, in addition to Tobias, a resident of Trent, were in Venice during the Emperor’s visit, attracted by an opportunity of obtaining some much sought-after title from Emperor Friedrich in person; nor do we know how many of them had already spent considerable periods of time in the City of the Lagoons in search of fame and fortune [9]. Among them were the Jews Moschè Rapp, Lazzaro [10] and the better-known Omobono (Simcha Bunem or Bunim), keeper of the pharmacy "della Vecchia" at San Cassian, with a house at San Stae, only a few steps from the Albergo dei Bresciani ("magister Homobon, Jewish physician, at the Speziaria de la Vechia at San Cassian, with his house near San Stae, not far from the Casa de Bressani, at Venice") [11]. Accompanying them was the physician Moisè da Rodi, whose presence is attested to with certainty in 1473 [12], but who probably arrived in Venice even earlier, and "Maestro Theodoro (Todros), Jewish physician", who reached Venice in 1469 with Friedrich [13].

The best-known of all, however, was, without doubt, the rabbi and barber surgeon Jehudah messer Leon, certainly a product of Ashkenazi Jewish environment, if his origins at Montecchio in the Vicentino region are indeed a fact [14]. This same Leon, who resided in Venice starting in 1469 at the earliest, where his son David was born, was officially granted his degree in medicine

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during the Emperor’s visit, although formally the diploma was only signed a few days later by the imperial notary at Pordenone (but still in the month of February) [15]. Similarly, years later, in August of 1489, the Emperor, still at Pordenone, is said to have granted a doctorate in medicine to two Jewish candidates, both of them from Sicily and belonging to the Azeni family at Palermo, David di Aronne and Salomone di Mosè [16].

The petitions of the Jews to the Emperor, who had always been highly esteemed for his benevolent attitude, filed during his stay in Venice during the winter of 1469, were submitted by an ambassador admitted to Friedrich’s presence for that particular occasion. The occasion was described as follows, early in the 16th Century, with some satisfaction although with undoubted exaggeration, by the chronicler Elia Capsalia, rabbi of Candia, who had studied medicine at the Talmudic academy of Padua:

"The Emperor (Friedrich III) was very favorable to the Jews. During his visit to Venice (in 1469), when his vassals and subjects presented him with (gastronomic) gifts, he never refused to eat them before his servants and functionaries had tasted them first, as is the custom among emperors. Whenever the Jews brought him gifts of this kind, Friedrich never hesitated to eat any of the dishes immediately, saying that he had complete faith in the loyalty and honesty of his Jewish subjects.

"Later, Frederic, traveling from Venice, went to Padua to gain an impression of that city. On that occasion, the Serenissima prepared a carriage for him and placed it on the city walls: the horses pulled the carriage from which the Emperor admired the entire city. This was done so that he might easily verify the thickness and solidity of the walls (of Padua). Friedrich signed a pact with Venice and remained its faithful ally for the entire time he lived" [17].

In all probability, the ambassadorship of the Jews conferring with Friedrich III as described by Capsali was headed by David Mavrogonato (in Italian, Maurogonato), an adventurer and not overly-scrupulous businessman in the service of the Republic of Venice, a person of enormous financial resources and great influence, a native of Candia who was often sent on hazardous missions to the lands of the Aegean and the Great Turk, where he was to run many risks and die a cruel death; on the other hand, he was certainly capable of procuring sumptuous stipends and profitable privileges for himself [18].

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Maestro Tobias da Magdeburg, the humble physician from Trent, had seen Mavrogonato at Venice during the days of the imperial visit, although he did not know Mavrogonato’s name. He had observed Mavrogonato with respect and reverential fear; he knew approximately where he lived, although he did not know the exact address; but he was well aware that he would never have been able to approach Mavrogonato without undergoing the suspicious appraisal of Mavrogonato’s bodyguards. Perhaps Tobias thought that Mavrogonato’s recommendation would help get him, Tobias, included in the list of people enjoying the Emperor's favor, or those about to receive a Doctorate, but he was unable, or did not dare, to ask for it. The personage and appearance of Mavrogonato nevertheless remained imprinted in his memory after many years; in 1475, in speaking to the judges at Trent, he envisioned Mavrogonato as follows, erroneously imagining that he might be still alive:

"He might have been forty four or forty five years old; he wore his hair long and wore a black beard, like the Greeks. He wore a black cloak that came down to his feet, and covered his head with a black cap. In substance, he dressed like the Greeks" [19].

But who was David Mavrogonato really? An ambiguous and mysterious character, Mavrogonato appeared in Venice in 1461 on his own initiative to reveal a conspiracy being hatched on the island of Candia against the Serenissima. The Council of Ten did not hesitate to take the Jewish merchant into its service and send him back to Candia on a secret mission to spy on the conspirators and report them to the Venetian authorities, after gathering the evidence required for their arrest [20]. Mavrogonato carried out the mission to perfection, although his tireless commitment finally ended by blowing his cover, rendering continued residence on his native island impossible, since, as he claimed, both Greeks and Jews "pointed him out with their fingers", considering him a vile informer, or malshin in Jewish juridical terminology, a term with lethal penal implications [21]. We also know that Mose Capsali, rabbi at Constantinople, had threatened Mavrogonato with excommunication at the request of the Jews of Candia [22].

The privileges requested early in his career by Mavrogonato in return for services rendered were granted without delay and with expressions of profound gratitude by the Council of Ten in December of 1463. These rights, which extended to his sons Jacob and Elia and his descendents in perpetuity included, among other things, exemption from the wearing of the distinctive sign required of the Jews, and authorization

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to move about armed wherever he wished. He was not, however, granted the privilege, odd in appearance, but perfectly consistent with the type of persons with whom he had to deal, of striking two names off the list of banned wanted by the Serenissima for the crime of homicide [23].

Mavrogonato, Judeus de Creta et mercator in Venetiis, knew full well who might have benefited from such a clause, and had very definite ideas about certain people condemned in absentia who might thus have been permitted to return in the territories under Venetian domination. At this point, the entrepreneurial Jew from Candia, a permanent resident of Venice since the beginning of 1464, traveling frequently and easily, supervising his goods and entering and leaving the port en route for Candia and Constantinople, was officially a spy in the service of the Republic and at its disposal for other, more or less hazardous, secret missions.

In effect, Mavrogonato is thought to have been sent to Candia and Constantinople at least four times, in 1465, the next year, in 1468 and in 1470, during the first Venetian-Turkish War [24]. It is possible that, in 1468, on the eve of Friedrich’s imperial visit to Venice, Mavrogonato may have accompanied a vessel, loaded with goods owned by himself, from Candia to the Venetian landing place. In June of 1465, a decree signed by the Council of Ten officially admitted that Mavrogonato had been sent to the capital of the Great Turk to spy on the enemy; in 1466, he was referred to the "Jew from Crete, called David", called upon by Venice to participate in the peace negotiations with the Sultan Mahomet II [25].

David Mavrogonato died as mysteriously as he had lived, probably during his fourth mission. On 18 December 1470, the Doge of Venice, writing to the Duke of Crete, mentioned the death of his secret agent, but without providing any details as to the circumstances of his death [26].

Mavrogonato may have accepted the dangerous assignment of plotting the Great Turk’s assassination in one way or another, and may for some reason have failed in the mission, meeting an unexpected death in the process. Other, later, clues are also thought to point in this direction.

Among the requests filed by Mavrogonato with the Council of Ten after his first secret mission to Candia in the years 1461-1462, was that of being permitted to avail himself of a body guard, assigned to his personal defense ("that you might deign to grant him the privilege [...] of keeping [...] some person near him for the safety of his person, so that no violence or ignominy may be done to him by some villain or other evil person").

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Once his petition had been accepted by the Venetian legal authorities in February 1464, the merchant from Candia made haste to appoint a person originally described as a sort of bodyguard, but referred to in the document as Mavrogonato’s "associate", a designation quite distinct in scope as well as quality. This bodyguard, or "associate", was to share in almost all the privileges granted by the city of Venice to Mavrogonato, including that of being authorized to engage in business of any kind, on a basis of equality with Venetian merchants, and being permitted to move about the city and territory wearing the black hat of a Christian gentlemen instead of the crocus-colored beret of the Jews (for this reason, Mavrogonato, in Venice and its domains, was known as "Maurobareti") [27]. Mavrogonato was an experienced and rich businessman, but not a muscular street fighter or expert in the martial arts; these latter services were to be provided by a man bearing the name of Salomone da Piove di Sacco, known throughout Venice and the entire Veneto region as a banker, merchant and rough-and-ready financier, as bold as he was unscrupulous [28].

Starting in 1464 and continuing thereafter, Mavrogonato is thought to have entrusted his affairs to Salomone da Piove di Sacco during his enforced and prolonged absences from Venice, including the management of his lordly dwelling at San Cassian and his joint interest in commercial ventures undertaken on the maritime routes to the great markets of the Levant.

Finally, Mavrogonato is also believed to have entrusted Salomone da Piove with some of his own precious secrets as a diplomatic spy in the pay of Venice. On the eve of his first, risky trip to Constantinople in June 1465, David Mavrogonato informed the Council of Ten that he had indeed confirmed Salomone as his business agent at Venice "due to the complete faith which I have in him" [29].

Salomone’s ancestors had arrived in Italy in the last part of the 14th century from the Rhine region in Germany, perhaps from the same important seat of the archbishop of Cologne. The family had gradually extended its offshoots from Cividale del Friuli, where Maruccio (Mordekhai) and Fays -- Salamone’s father and grandfather respectively -- had operated in the local money market, to Padua, where, in the mid-15th century, the same Salomone managed the bank of San Lorenzo in the city district of the same name [30].

Salomone and his clan formed part of a migratory flow extending to all regions of northern Italy since the very late 14th century, involving the massive transalpine migration of entire German-speaking communities, both Christians and Jews,

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from the Rhineland, Bavaria and upper and lower Austria, Franconia and Alsace, the Kärnten, Styria and Thüringen, Slovenia, Bohemia and Moravia, Silesia, Swabia and Saxony, Westphalia, Württemburg in the Palatinate, Brandenburg, Baden, Worms, Regensburg and Spira. A heterogenous German-speaking population, made up of rich and poor, entrepreneurs and artisans, financiers and scoundrels, men of religion, adventurers and rascals, traveling from the transalpine territories via the mountain crossings in a process of long duration, towards the lagoons of Venice, as well as the cities and lesser centers of the terra firma of the Veneto region [31].

This was a large-scale phenomenon containing a large Jewish component which had already come to the fore in the regions of northern Italy, in consequence of the persecutions following the Black Death in the mid-14th century as well as sporadically during the century before.

Ashkenazi, i.e., German, Jewish communities of diverse numerical consistency formed in a myriad of localities, large and small, from Pavia to Cremona, from Bassano to Treviso, from Cividale to Gorizia and Trieste, from Udine and Pordenone to Conegliano, from Feltre and Vicenza to Rovigo, from Lendinara to Badia Polesine, from Padua and Verona to Mestre [32]. Here they stayed, a stone’s throw from Venice, an enterprising Jewish community of considerable economic weight, whose members came mostly from Nuremberg and the adjacent areas. In 1382, a few Jews from Mestre obtained authorization to move to Venice to practice money-lending, but were expelled a few years later, in 1397, for failing to comply with the conditions under which the government of Venice had admitted them to the city [33].

Policy of refusing to grant permanent residence to Jews

The Serenissima thus returned to its traditional policy of refusing to grant permanent residence to Jews on the banks of the Great Canal, except under exceptional circumstances and for periods of short duration. This policy, frequently quite contrary to actual practice, witnessed Jews crowding the streets of certain city districts during the day and remaining there in great numbers even after dark, lodged in houses and inns, sometimes for long periods of time. There was no shortage of Jews in Venice: mostly physicians, influential merchants and bankers, having established themselves more or less permanently at Venice. The numerical consistency of this community, heterogenous in professions but more or less homogenous in ethnic origin, originating from the transalpine German-speaking territories, has, until today, been considered

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from an unjustly simplistic point of view. Beginning in the second half of the 15th century, they tended to gather in one particular strategic area, a sheltered location in the international market at Rialto, the node of the great trading systems linking the city of Venice, by land and sea, to the centers of the plains of the Po River valley and the German-speaking regions which constituted a constant point of economic, social and religious reference, towards which the eyes of these Ashkenazi Jews continued to be directed [34].

These areas included the districts of San Cassian, where a kosher butcher's shop soon opened, preparing meat according to the Jewish custom, Sant Agostino, San Polo and Santa Maria Mater Domini. At San Polo, they probably also attended the German-rite synagogue, authorized by the Venetian government in 1464 to serve "the Jews who reside in the capital or who meet there to carry on their businesses", with a decree which nevertheless limited their liturgical collective meetings to the participation of ten adults of the male sex [35].

Italian and German Jews

Moreover, the Jewish community at Venice, like the others of more or less distant Ashkenazi origin to be seen in the more immediate and smaller centers of northern Italy, formed part of a German-Jewish koinè, consisting of German-speaking Jews on both sides of the Alps, linked by liturgical usages and similar customs, sharing the same history, often marked by events both tragic and invariably mythologized, as well as by the same attitude of harsh hostility to the arrogant Christianity of surrounding society, the same religious texts of reference, the same rabbinical hierarchies, produced by the Ashkenazi Talmudic academies to whose authority they intended to submit, and the same family structures [36].

These communities made up a homogenous entity from the social and religious point of view, which might be called supranational, in which the Jews of Pavia identified themselves with those from Regensburg, the Jews from Treviso with the Jews of Nuremberg, and the Jews of Trent with those from Cologne and Prague, but certainly not with those from Rome, Florence, or Bologna.

Relations with the Italian Jews who often lived alongside them, where such relations existed, were markedly fortuitous, based on contingent common needs of an economic nature, and the common perception of being viewed as identical by the surrounding Christian environment.

Many of these Ashkenazi Jews did not speak Italian, and if or when they did speak it, it was difficult to understand them due to the heavy German inflection of their pronunciation and the many Germanic and Yiddish terms with which their phrases were cram-packed. Not only the Hebrew language,

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but the common liturgical usage of German and Italian Jews, was pronounced in a radically different way, so that the two groups considered it impossible to pray together [37].

It is not therefore surprising that Italian Jews were not on terms of much familiarity with German Jews.

Despite their close proximity, they had little knowledge of them, distrusted their aggressive economic audacity, which generally had little respect for the nation’s laws, and dissented from their religious orthodoxy, which they considered exaggerated and depressing. Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, they feared them.

The Italian Jewish koinè, i.e, of distant Roman origin (Jews active in the money trade only moved from Rome to seek permanent residence in the municipalities of central and northern Italy starting in the second half of the 13th century), lived side with the German Jewish koinè, of more recent origin, but without assimilating, without merging and without being influenced, except to a minor and quite secondary degree. They were distant brothers, even if they were not "brothers who hate and fear each other".

The first group of "Roman" Jews, i.e., Jews of Italian origin, flowing into the centers of the plane of the Po from their preceding seats in the Patrimonio of San Pietro, in Umbria, in the Marca d'Ancona, in the Lazio and in Campagna to carry on the authorized money trade, i.e., regulated by permits, did not reach these regions simultaneously with the arrival in those regions of the German transalpine Jews, active in the same profession. They in fact preceded them by several decades.

The first Jewish money lenders at Padua and Lonigo, in the Vicentino region, were Italians, and initially settled there between 1360 and 1370. Jews of German origin only reached the region in consistent numbers at a later time, at the end of the century, and, in particular, at the beginning of the 15th century [38].

A comparison of the clauses of the permits granted to the German Jews compared to those granted to the Italian Jews, often active in the same areas, reveals obvious traces of profound differences in religious usage and mentalities, sediments of particular and diverse historical experiences. The attitudes and ceremonial components, the fears and mistrust, the sense and dimension of life, the relations with the surrounding Christian society of these German Jews, immersed in the new Italian reality in which they felt profoundly foreign, remained influenced and marked by their experiences in the Germanic world from which they originated, and which they had only left physically.

The principal concern of these immigrants seemed to be, understandably, that of ensuring their physical safety

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and the protection of their property against the dangers represented by a surrounding society which considered them treacherous and potentially hostile. Almost obsessively, the chapters of the permits repeatedly mention the exemplary punishments to be threatened to anyone causing damaging or injury to the Jews, or subjecting them to trouble or vexations. The permit granted by the municipality of Venzone to the money lender Benedetto of Regensburg in 1444 contained the condition that wet nurses and Christian personnel in the service of the Jews were not to be molested or offended, nor could they be made to work on Sunday or the feast days of the Christian calendars [39].

The transalpine Jews were particularly sensitive to the possibility of being falsely accused and, in consequence, of suffering from legal proceedings and expropriations, as shown by their preceding experience in the German territories, the scars of which they still bore. In 1414, Salomone da Nuremberg and his companions requested and obtained a concession from the government of Trieste stating that, if Jews accused of any crime or offense before the judges of that city would not be subjected to torture to extort confessions without at least four citizen witnesses, trustworthy and of good reputation, against them [40].

The permits signed by the municipalities of Lombardy and Triveneto with the Ashkenazi Jews were characterized by a constant concern that they be guaranteed the freedom to observe their religious ritual and ceremonial standards with zealous scrupulousness. The religious clauses inserted in the chapters were more detailed in this sense than those found in the contemporary permits granted to Jewish money lenders of Italian origin, undoubtedly an indication of greater adherence to the observation of religious precepts on the part of the Ashkenazi community than the Italian one. It was significant in this regard that the appearance of the clause relating to the undisturbed provision of kosher meat, i.e., meat butchered according to ritual law, appears for the first time in the permits granted to German Jews at the end of the 14th century (from Pavia in 1387 to Udine in 1389, from Pordenone in 1399 to Treviso in 1401), approximately twenty years before this made its initial appearance, certainly in imitation of, and under the influenced by, the Ashkenazi prototype, in the permits of the Italian Jews [41].

The religious clauses inserted in the permits of the German Jews include, in addition to the right to supply themselves with kosher meat to observe their festivities freely, the right not to be compelled to violate the standards of Hebraic law in the exercise of

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their lending activities or having to appear in court on Saturday or the feast days of the Hebraic calendar. The same clauses furthermore permitted the safeguarding of the other Jewish alimentary norms, such as the supervised preparation of the wine, cheeses and bread (a clause usually missing from the permits granted to Italian Jews); the right to "attend synagogue" (Pavia 1387); to use a piece of land as a cemetery and to permit Jewish women to take regular baths of purification, after the end of their menstrual periods, in the city baths on particular days set aside for them (Pordenone, 1452) [42].

Prohibition to priests to proselytize among Jewish children

But the most characteristic clause, absolutely generalized in the permits of Jews of German origin, but significantly absent from the permits of the Italian Jews, was that referring to protection against forced conversions to Christianity. In particular, the Ashkenazi appeared obsessed with the possibility that their children might be kidnapped, subjected to violence or swindled with snares and tricks to drag them to the baptismal font. That this possibility was anything but remote seemed obvious to anyone having experienced this type of traumatic experience at first hand on the banks of the Rhine or the Main.

Permits issued in Friulia, Lombardy and Veneto granted to German money lenders, as early as the end of the 14th century, explicitly prohibited friars and priests of any order from proselytizing among Jewish children not yet having reached their 13th birthday [43].

In 1403, Ulrich III, bishop of Bressanone, granted the Jews of the Tyrol protection from any possible ecclesiastical claims to a right of forced conversion of Jewish children. This protection could, and did, include the dangers represented by baptized Jews, zealous and implacable in plotting the ruin of the Jewish communities from which they originated [44].

The immediate removal from the city of so-called "Jews turned Christian"

In 1395, Mina da Aydelbach, representing the Jewish families of German origin residing in Gemona, first stopping place on the main road to the lagoons of Venice after the mountain crossing of Tarvisio, obtained, in the initial clauses of their permits explicitly provided for the immediate removal from the city of so-called "Jews turned Christian", who were said to constitute elements of scandal and disturbance [45].

The die was already cast between the Italian and German Jews, settled in the lands beyond the River Po, by the mid-15th century. With a few exceptions, the piazza was henceforth solidly in the hands of Yiddish-speaking Jews who, in the best of cases, badly mangled Italian [46].

In former times, they had crossed the Alps fearfully and almost on tip-toe, in search of sufficiently modest and desirable dwellings

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so as to live and survive comfortably, but they also, when need arose, proved themselves enterprising in financial matters, courageous and even bold in their commercial undertakings, nonchalant and often arrogant and impudent in their relations with the government, only obeying the law when it was strictly necessary or too dangerous to do otherwise.

Victory was now theirs, and it was because of these same bankers and merchants that many of them had been able to accumulate huge sums of capital in a relatively short lapse of time, such as to bear no comparison with the fortunes possessed by Christian mercantile families and patricians who were both more distinguished and of higher rank.

Italian Jews are pushed away by German Jews - Ashkenazi

The chronology is relatively precise. In 1455, all Italian Jews active in the money trade were expelled from Padua and compelled to shut down their banks, while the "Teutonic" Jews, divided from, and now entirely separate from, the Italian Jews, gained the upper hand in the local money market [Padua], the most important in the terra firma of the Veneto region, as early as ten years before. At Verona, all lending banks owned by Italian Jews had already been closed in 1447, while, in 1445, the permits of the Jewish bankers of Vicenza were not renewed [47].

With the Italian Jewish banks shut down in all the principal centers of the Veneto region, a few district lending banks, few in number but of great economic potential, particularly because of the higher interest rates charged by them in comparison to the rates formerly charged by banks controlled Italian Jews, remained open to serve the needs of the clientele in the cities and in the countryside [48]. These were the banks of Soave and Villafranca in the district of Verona, Mestre for Venice, and Este, Composampiero and, above all, Piove di Sacco in the Padua district [49].

The forced and almost simultaneous dismantling of the Jewish banks of Padua, Verona and Vicenza led, as an immediate consequence, to the almost total extinction of the Hebraic community of Roman origin, which was compelled, for the most part, to flow into the centers on the nearer side of the Po; on the other hand, however, it allowed other money lenders, from Treviso and the territories of Friulia, who took over the assets and management of the few remaining lending banks, to make extraordinary fortunes.

As we have seen, these banks benefited from an extremely broad catchment area and could rely on a numerous and heterogenous clientele. Their economic success was therefore guaranteed and proved to be exceptional in scope. The lucky few bankers remaining on the piazza were almost all Ashkenazi, the same Jews who had hastened or more or less directly procured the financial ruin of the Italian Jews. The

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most prominent among them was, in the end, Salomone di Marcuccio, owner of the Banco di Piove di Sacco and, after 1464, David Mavrogno da Candia’s official business associate, with a more or less official residence at Venice [50].

Rich and influential, Salomone, although not a man of great culture, was not averse to sponsorship ventures, in which field he established himself with flare and good taste. At Piove, where the local community was practically one of his fiefdoms, in 1465, he became associated with the German printer Meshullam Cusi, whose presence at Padua is attested to in the same year.

A classic ritualistic code, Arba'a Turim is printed

Cusi undertook the initial printing of one of the first Hebraic cunabulae, certainly one of the most important and monumental, at Piove, towards the end of 1473. This was a classic ritualistic code, Arba'a Turim, a work of the German rabbi Ya'akov b. Asher (1270 circa 1340), whose family originated from Cologne but had carried on its activities for the most part at Barcelona in Catalunya, and later at Toledo in Castille.

The four volumes, printed on Cusi’s presses with great care and heedless of cost, were completed in July 1475 and constituted one of the most splendid and elegant examples of Hebraic printing [51].

Certain copies of great beauty were printed on parchment and intended for a highly sophisticated readership, particularly from the economic point of view, one of the most important of whom was to be Salomone di Piove. The printing costs linked to the supplies of machinery, type, materials and labor, were to fluctuate between seven hundred and one thousand ducats, a large sum which Cusi might not have had available, without the direct or indirect joint involvement of the Jewish banker di Piove.

"Rothschild Miscellanea", one of the most sumptuous and famous of all Jewish legal codes

We believe that consideration should be given to the possibility that Salmone may have also undertaken another artistic-literary undertaking of great importance, at proportional economic cost. The precious miniatures of the so-called "Rothschild Miscellanea", one of the most sumptuous and famous of all Jewish legal codes, were executed in the decade between 1470 and 1480, probably in Leonardo Bellini’s workshop at Venice. The artistic decoration of the manuscript cost almost one thousand ducats, a sum equivalent to half the taxes paid by the entire Jewish community of the Duchy of Milan during the same period [52].

Salomone may well have been the only Jewish sponsor living more or less permanently in the city of the lagoons able to make

p. 31]

an investment of such magnitude without difficulty. For purposes of comparison, we know that in 1473, Salomone, still active on the piazza of Venice, together with one of his sons, Marcuccio, his first born, was able to pay a gigantic sum, equal to 300 ducats in cash and another 360 in credits, intended for the restoration of the perimeter wall of the old Arsenal [53].

Between 1468 and 1469, in view of Emperor Friedrich’s forthcoming visit to Venice, Salomone hosted a plenary meeting at Piove of the German rabbis of the Jewish community of northern Italy, presided over by their most authoritative exponent, the jurist Yoseph Colon, then active in the community of Mestre [54]. The petitions said to have been presented by the Jewish ambassadorship to the solemn and magnificent Emperor during the anticipated audience described by Rabbi Elia Capsali di Candia in his chronicles may have been drawn up on that occasion.

During the summer of 1470, David Mavrogonato set sail from Venice to return to Candia for what was to be his last mission. He had long since prudently avoided reappearing on his native island. He was probably accompanied on this voyage by Salomone di Piove himself, who, at the end of June, left his son Salamoncino with a power of attorney for the purpose of collecting a huge loan from the bank Soranzo at Venice, a transaction which he would normally have conducted directly [55].

As we know, this was a voyage from which Mavrogonato is thought never to have returned alive, meeting with his tragic demise a few weeks later, certainly before September of that year. From that time onwards, Mavrogonato’s name and memory were to be systematically omitted from all documents signed by his former associate, Salomone da Piove, as well as by Salamone’s sons, although reference to the privileges obtained by the influential merchant from Candia appears to have become an established custom. This is not surprising and cannot be merely accidental. Salomone certainly knew the truth about that last voyage to Constantinople in which Mavrogonato is believed to have met with unexpected death. Did Salamone know too much? Did he wish to forget, or rather, cause others to forget, that he had been with him on that tragic maritime voyage? What is certain is that Salomone da Piove was close to David Mavrogonato until the end. Perhaps too close.

It is not therefore surprising to learn that, at around this same time, Salomone personally took over a bold project, perhaps planned beforehand by his associate and collaborator from Candia,

p. 32]

"to take the life of the Great Turk", thus doing the government of Venice a great favor [56]. To provide for the assassination of Mahomet II, the nonchalant financier informed the Council of Ten that he had sent a Jewish doctor named Valco, whose Italian name was probably derived from the well-known family of doctors, natives of Worms, called Wallach, Wallich or Welbush, to Constantinople, at his expense [57].

"Salamon, as appears in the books of Your Majesties the Council of Ten, due to his wish to do a great ourselves and all of Christianity a great service by attempting to take the life of the Great Turk, chose, at his expense, sent for a Maestro Valco, a Jewish doctor, whom he sent with his own money" [58].

Even before that, we know that the Venetian authorities had been glad to avail themselves of the services of a Jewish barber-surgeon, Jacob da Gaeta, the Sultan’s personal physician, an expert spy and double agent, greedy for gain and treacherous, with whom Mavrogonato had maintained frequent contacts [59]. It also appears that Maestro Jacob had reached Venice in secrecy, together with Gaeta, on the same vessel from Ragusa, in very late 1468, on the eve of the imperial visit and the Venetian congress of Jewish physicians, held on that occasion [60].

Maestro Valco, paid by Salomone, moved to Constantinople, and went quickly to work, but apparently with little result. Mahomet II was still alive and kicking when the Jewish banker from Piove finally died, between the end of 1475 and the very early part of the following year. But Salamone was occupied with certain other matters, much more serious and more disagreeable then merely "taking the life of the Great Turk" during that period, which was to prove fraught with danger for all the Jewish communities of northern Italy.

Attempts to influence the outcome of the Trent trials

The Trent trials of the Jews accused of little Simon’s martyrdom had ended with the condemnation and execution of the principal defendants, who were burnt at the stake or decapitated in June of 1475. Other defendants, including the women of the small community, were waiting to learn their final fate, after which the trial proceedings were suspended in April by order of Sigismundo IV, Count of Tyrol, and were then newly interrupted the following July by order of Pope Sixtus IV after a brief recommencement, requested by several parties for purposes of intervening in the affair. The Pope then personally sent a special commissioner to Trent, the Dominican, Battista de ’ Giudici, bishop of Ventimiglia, with the task of investigating and

p. 33]

reporting on the facts. De’ Giudici, who had initially taken up lodgings at Trent, later moved to the nearby, but more secure, seat of Rovereto, in territory belonging to Venice, where they met with the lawyers, all of top rate importance, whom the Jews of Padua had decided to make available to the defendants [61]. Salomone da Piove played a prominent role in the affair, requesting the Pope to appoint an apostolic inquisitor and probably meeting Battista de' Giudici at Padua, on de’ Giudici’s way to Trent [62].

In accordance with de' Giudici, with whom he maintained intense epistolary relations, as well as through another Jew from Piove, belonging to the Cusi family of typographers, having strategically moved, to Rovereto, Salomone provided a safe conduct to a Paduan Jew, a native of Regensburg, and sent him to Innsbruck with the mission of pleading the cause of the Trent defendants still in prison, before Sigismundo, Count of Tyrol, and, if possible, obtaining their release. Salomone Fürstungar, his agent on this delicate mission, was an unscrupulous intriguer who camouflaged himself by dressing, not as a Jew, but "in the German-style, with a short overcoat and a cap on his head", returned from Tyrol disappointed and empty-handed. His bitter failure was also an indication of the failure of the efforts of all the German-origin Jewish communities from the Veneto region to avoid the tragic consequences of the Trent affair for the defendants who were still alive [63]. Salomone da Piove is said to have died shortly afterwards [64].

The leadership of this conspicuous group, committed, as always, to avoiding the political and financial effects and repercussions of the Trent trials on their Jewish brethren, thus passed into the hands of Manno di Aberlino (Mandele ben Abrahim) of Vincenza, maximum exponent of the influential Ashkenazim community of Pavia [65].

A prestigious banker with vast financial resources, he had been appointed collector of Jewish taxes to the Lombard communities by the Duke of Milan in 1469. Manno was related to Salomone da Piove, whose first-born son Marcuccio had married one of his brother Angelo’s daughters [66].

Manno was to meet Salomone da Piove at fairly frequent intervals at Venice, where he had more or less officially opened a money lending shop, of secondary importance compared to the great bank at Padua but still of strategic importance [67].

p. 34]


[Letter in Hebrew sent by the banker Manno (Mandele) of Pavia to the physician Omobono Bonim of Venice, March 1476 (State Archive of Trent, Archivio Principesco Vescovile, S.L., 69, 68).]

Revenge for the Trent trial - assassination attempts

When Salomone Fürstungar, just recovering from the setback at Innsbruck, thirsting for revenge or just to reshuffle the cards, took to considering murdering the captain of the guards of the podestà of Trent and even bishop Hinderbach himself, hiring an assassin for the task, a person above suspicion, a priest named Paolo da Novara, the industrious Manno offered to finance the bold initiative, without regard to cost [68].

Manno asked the priest, Paolo da Novara, who was probably contacted through his brother Bartolomeo, a druggist at Piove di Sacco [69], to poison the persons responsible for the Trent trial and to obtain the arsenic required to do so from the Venetian physician Omobono (Bunim), owner of the "della Vecchia" pharmacy at San Cassian, who is also believed to have issued instructions on how to use the arsenic. As a reward, Paolo was to receive four hundred ducats, half of it immediately, and the other two hundred to be withdrawn over the counter a Manno’s bank at Venice [70].

But the conspiracy, the most prominent members of which were all Jews from Pavia, Padua, Novara, Soncino, Parma, Piacenza, Modena, Brescia, Bassano, Rovereto, Riva and Venice, failed miserably, with the arrest and confession of the fanciful and avaricious priest [71].


[1] Cfr. P. Ghinzoni, Federico III Imperatore a Venezia (dal 19 febbraio 1469), in "Archivio Veneto", n.s., XIX (1889), no. 37, pp. 133-144.

[2] On the Roman coronation of Friedrich III in 1452 see, recently, Ph. Braunstein, L'événement et la memoire: regards privés, rapports officiels sur le couronnement romain de Federic III, in "La circulation de nouvelles au Moyen Age", Société des Historiens Médievistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur Public, Publications de la Sorbonne, Ecole Française, Roma, C. (1994), pp. 219-229. Friedrich was had also been in Venice in 1436, returning from a pilgrimage. The imperial retinue in 1452 was particularly numerous, as shown by the Cronaca di Zorzi Dolfin, cited by Marin Sanudo ("[...] con bocche 1.500 a spexa della Signoria e a Trivixo erano cavalli 1.200 che lo aspettavono; la spexa era al giorno ducati 1000 per dodici giorni" ["with 1,500 mouths to feed at His Lordship’s expense and 1,200 horses at Treviso waiting for him; the expenses amounted to 1,000 ducats per day"]. The dance in the hall of the Greater Council was held "cum infinite donne della terra, 250") ["with infinite numbers of ladies from the mainland, 250"]. For this passage from the Cronaca del Dolfin, see the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice, Italian manuscripts, cl. VII, cod. 794 (8503), c. 310r. See also Marin Sanudo, Le vite dei dogi (1423-1474). I: 1423-1457, by A. Caracciolo Aricò, Venice, 1999, pp. 471-473. During his visit to Venice in 1469, where "li fo fatti grandissimi apparati" ["where great displays of magnificence were prepared for him"], Friedrich's retinue was reduced and consisted of eight hundred dignitaries. Friedrich, on this third visit, was sumptuously received at the Palazzo Ducale "et, venendo a veder Rialto, errano sopra li banchi posti assaissimi ducati et do garzoni picholi in camixa con una palla per uno in mano, che l'uno et l'altro si butavono li ditti ducati, si come si butta formento" ["and, when he came to see the Rialto, large quantities of gold ducats had been placed on stands in a high place, where two little boys in shirt sleeves, each with a paddle in his hand, were tossing the ducats about, as if they were grain"]. (see Marin Sanudo, Le vite dei dogi. II: 1457- 1474, Venice, 2004, pp. 109-111).

[3] On this visit, and probably on the preceding visit in 1452 as well, it seems that some Venetian patricians were awarded the rank of knight by Friedrich (Sanudo, Le vite dei dogi, cit., vol. II, p. 109: "li fo fatto festa in sala del Gran Conseio [...] et sopra il soler lo Imperador fece alchuni zentilomeni cavalieri") ["The Emperor was greeted in the Greater Council with great pomp and ceremony […] and on the terrace he dubbed several gentlemen knights"].

[4] On Michele Colli's report to the Duke of Milan cfr Ghinzoni, Federico III imperatore a Venezia, cit., p. 151. See also D. Rando, Dai margini la memoria. Johannes Hinderbach (1418-1486), Bologna, 2003, pp. 345-346. Michele Colli was probably a member of the entourage of Andrea Colli, Milanese ambassador at Venice, of whom he was a relative.

[5] Cfr. Rando, Dai margini la memoria, cit., p. 346. In 1452, Hinderbach had taken advantage of Friedrich's stay at Padua, on the way to Rome, where he was to be crowned Emperor, to obtain his own doctorate in a solemn ceremony, held in the cathedral, in the presence of large numbers of prelates, noblemen and academics, "quo actu nullus numquam insignior habitus, cui tot et tanti principes et nobiles interfuissent" ["in which act there was never anything more magnificent, there were so many princes and noblemen there"] (cfr. V. von Hofmann-Wellenhof, Leben und Schriften des Doctor Johannes Hinderbach, Bischofs von Trent, 1465-1486, in "Zeitschrift des Ferdinandeums für Tirol und Vorarlberg", s. 3, XXXVII, 1893, pp. 259-262).

[6] For the text of the depositions of Tobias of Magdeburg before the Trent judges during the 1475 trials for the death of Simon, son of Andrea Lomferdorm, see A. Esposito and D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di Trento, 1475-1478. I: I processi del 1475, Padua, 1990, pp. 307-348. See also G. Divina's argument in Storia del beato Simone da Trento, Trent, 1902, vol. II, pp. 8-12; pp. 45-47. Quaglioni (" Orta est disputatio super matheria promotionis inter doctores ". L'ammissione degli ebrei al dottorato , in "Micrologus. Natura, scienza e società medievali", IX, 2001 [Gli ebrei e le scienze], pp. 249-267) examines in detail the deposition of the physician Tobias at the Trent trial, whose confession was extorted "con torture raffinatissime che conducono l'inquisito in punto di morte" ["with exceedingly refined methods of torture which practically kill the person under investigation"], but he nonetheless considers it a document rich in details of indubitable truthfulness.

[7] "Tempore quo Serenissimus Imperator erat Venetiis, modo possunt esse VI vel VII anni, ipse Thobias reperit se Venetiis [...] et dicit quod tunc erat ibi magna multitudo Iudeorum, qui tunc venerant Venetiis post Serenissimum Imperatorem, causa emenda merces, ad finem ut non haberent causam solvendi gabellas pro mercibus predictis, quia illas tales mercea postea mittebant cum preparamentis seu caribus prefati Serenissimi Imperatoris, dicendo quod erant bona prefati Domini Imperatoris"

[Approximately: "During the Emperor’s stay at Venice, perhaps about 6 or 7 years ago, this Tobias found himself at Venice, too [...] and he said that there were great multitudes of Jews there, who followed the Emperor to Venice to sell goods, since they didn’t have to pay any duty on those goods, because they took the goods with them in the Emperor’s baggage train, saying they belonged to the Emperor:"]

(cfr. Esposito and Quaglioni, Processi, cit., vol. I, pp. 328-329).

[8] The privilege granted by Friedrich to the Board is dated 16 February 1469 (cfr. R. Palmer, The "Studio" of Venice and its Graduates in the Sixteenth Century, Triest-Padua, 1983, p. 58). With regards to the imperial visit to Italy in 1452, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, in his Historia Australis reported that "multos [doctores Federicus] in Italia promovit, quibus aurum pro scientia fuit" (cfr. M.J. Wenninger, Zur Promotion jüdischer Ärzte duch Kaiser Friedrich III, in "Aschkenas", no. 2, p. 419). The Diario Ferrarese reports that Friedrich III, visiting Ferrara in 1452 after the Roman coronation, was received in a solemn ceremony by the Marchese Borso d'Este and the bishop of Ferrara, "con tutta la chierexia et multi doctori ferraresi" ["with the whole hierarchy and many learned men from Ferrara"], cit., in R. Bonfil, Rabbis and Jewish Communities in Renaissance Italy, Oxford, 1990, p. 87.

[9] In this regard, see D. Nissim's recent publication, Un "minian" di ebrei ashkenaziti a Venezia negli anni 1465-1480 , in "Italia", XIV (2004), pp. 41-47.

[10] On Mose Rapa (Moshe Rapp), whose documentary evidence dates back to 1475, cfr. "Hebraische Bibliographie", VI (1863), footnote p. 67. On Raspe and the other physician "Lazzaro", recorded at Venice in December 1465, see also I. Munz, Die Jüdischen Ärzte im Mittelalter, Frankfurt A.M., 1922.

[11] On Maestro Omobono and his involvement in the Trent trials, see Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 169. For other information relating to him cfr. D. Carpi, L'individuo e la colletività. Saggi di storia degli ebrei a Padova e nel Veneto nell'eta del Rinascimento , Florence, 2002, pp. 221-224. Carpi reports that Leone, son of the "magistri Hominisboni medici ebrei de Veneciis" [ "Omobono, the master Jewish doctor from Venice"], in 1471 had had a certain Marco di Salomone Ungar incarcerated at Padua for debt. Omobono lived "appresso la Casa dei Bresciani" and G. Tassini (Curiosità veneziane, Venice, 1863, pp. 96-97), notes in this regard that "alcuni paesi della Repubblica, come Brescia, godevano il diritto di tenere in Venezia particolare alberghi coll'oggetto di alloggiare i propri nunzi, con l'andare del tempo transformate in communi osterie e taverne" ["a few regions of the Republic, such as Brescia, enjoyed the right to keep private inns in Venice for the purpose of loding their own nuncios, and in time these inns became transformed into ordinary eating houses and taverns"]. For the correspondence of the name Omobono or Bonomo with Simcha Bunem o Bunim among the Ashkenazi Jews, see V. Colorni, Judaica Minora, Saggi sulla storia dell'ebraismo italiano dall'antichita all'età moderna, Milan, 1983, p. 787.

[12] Cfr.P.C. Ioly Zorattini, Processi del S. Uffizio contro ebrei e giudaizzanti. I: 1548-1560, Florence, pp. 339-340.

[13] Cfr. R. Sege, Cristiani novelli e medici ebrei a Venezia: storie di Inquisizione tra Quattro e Cinquecento, in M. Perani, Una manna buona per Mantova. Man tov le-Man Tovah. Studi in onore di Vittore Colorni per il suo 92° compleanno, Florence, 2004, pp. 383-389.

[14] In the ample bibliography on Jehudah messer Leon, see, in particular, D. Carpi, Notes on the Life of R. Judah Messer Leon, in E. Toaff, Studi sull'ebraismo italiano in memoria di C. Roth, Rome, 1974, p. 37-62; V. Colorni, Note per la biblografia de alcuni dotti ebrei vissuti a Mantova nel secolo XV, in "Annuario di Studi Ebraici", I, (1935), pp. 169-182; M. Luzzati, Dottorati in medicina conferiti a Firenze nel 1472 da Judah Messer Leon da Montecchio a Bonaventura da Terracina e ad Abramo da Montalcino, in Medicina e salute nelle Marche dal Rinascimento all'età napoleonica, in "Atti e memorie", XCVII (1992), pp. 41-53. The hypothesis that Jehudah messer Leon was a native of Montecchio Maggiore in the Vicentino is advanced by I. Rabbinowitz, The Book of the Honeycomb's Flow by Judah Messer Leon, Ithaca (N.Y.)-London, 1983, p. XX, and recently made by H. Tirosh-Rotschild, Between Worlds. The Life and Thought of R. David b. Judah Messer Leon, Albany (N.Y.), 1991, p. 25, and by G. Busi, Il succo dei favi. Studi sull'umanesimo ebraico, Bologna, 1992, p. 19.

[15] The text of the imperial diploma granted to Jehudah messer Leon, dated 21 February 1469, and published in full by Carpi, Notes on the Life of R. Judah Messer Leon, cit., pp. 59-60.

[16] The imperial privileges granted to the two Jewish Sicilian physicians, dated 4 August 1489, the their text, has been published by Wenninger (Zur Promotion jüdischer Ärtzte , cit., pp. 413-424). Salomone Azeni was almost certainly identical with Salomone Siciliano, active at Padua in the last decade of the Fifteenth Century (cfr. Carpi, L'Individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 222, 224).

[17] E. Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, by A. Schmuelevitz, Sh. Simonsohn and M. Benayahu, Jerusalem, 1977, vol. II, p. 260. On this matter, cfr Nissim, Un "minian" di ebrei ashkenaziti a Venezia, cit., pp. 42-43. On Capsali's work, see, recently, G. Corazzol, Sulla Cronaca dei Sovrani di Venezia ("Divre' hayamim le-malke' Wenesty'ah") di Rabbi Elia Capsali da Candia, in "Studi Veneziani", XLVII (2004), pp. 313- 330.

[18] On David Magrogonato, "judeus de Creta et mercator in Venetiis" ["Jew from Crete and merchant at Venice"], see, in particular, D. Jacoby, David Mavrogonato of Candia. Fifteenth Century Jewish Merchant, Intercessor and Spy, in "Tarbiz", XXXII (1964), pp. 388-402 (in Hebrew); Id., Un Agent juif au service de Venise.

David Mavrogonato de Candie, in "Thesaurismata. Bollettino dell'Istituto Ellenico di Studi Bizantini e Post-Bizantini", IX (1972), pp. 68-77, (republished in Id., Recherches sur la Méditerannée orientale du XIIe au XVe siècle, London, 1979, pp. 68-96); M. Manoussacas, Le receuil de privilèges de la famille juive Mavroganto de Crète (1464-1642), in "Byzantinische Forschungen", XII (1987), pp. 345-366; Carpi, L'Individuo e la colletività, cit., pp. 41-43.

[19] "Et erat etatis annorum XL quatuor vel quinquaginta, cum capillis et barba nigra prolixa, more Greco, et indutus clamide nigro usque ad pedes, cum caputio nigro in capite, dicens quod aliquando induebat se veste sicut portant Greci"

["He was about 40 or 50 years old, with black hair and a long black beard, in the Greek style, and wore a black cap on his head, saying that he preferred to dress like a Greek" ],

(cfr. Esposito e Quaglioni, Processi, cit., vol. I, p. 329). On the indubitable identification of the personage in question with David Mavrogonato, see D. Nissim, Il legame tra I processi di Trento contro gli ebrei e la tipografia ebraica di Piova di Sacco del 1475, in "Annali dell'Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico in Trento", XXV (1999), pp. 669-678.

[20] Cfr Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., pp. 69-70; Manoussacas, Le recueil de privilèges, cit., p. 345.

[21] "Praedictus David [...] passus fuit et publicum odium, quod ipse in tota insual tam per Christianos quam per Judeos acquisisset, cum jam digito mostraretur ab omnibus."

[The aforementioned David […] became an object of public hatred, known to both Jews and Christians all over the island, who pointed him out with their fingers"].

This document, dated 29 December 1463, together with other privileges granted Mavrogonato by Venice, is located in the Archivio di Stato di Venezia (henceforth: ASV), Inquisitorato agli Ebrei, envelope 19, doc no. 3.

Late printed copies of these privileges, entitled Per David Mavrogonato contro Senseri Ordinari di Rialto e Stampa dell'Università tutta degli Ebrei di Venezia are located in the ASV, Inquisitorato agli Ebrei (envelopes 39 and 5 respectively). See also, in this regard, Manoussacas, Le recueil de privilèges, cit., p. 346.

[22] Cfr. Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., pp. 81-82.

[23] "Se degni concierderli ch'el porta segno del .O. per sua salude d ch'el possa portare Arme [...]. Item li sia concesso poder cavar de Bando per puro omicidio do Persone solamente."

["If he be deemed worthy to be granted the right to bear the insignia of the O. [O. = possibly "Uomo di bene", gentleman or Christian] for his health and to bear arms […]; that he be granted the right to cause certain persons wanted for homicide to be stricken from the list of banned persons"].

This last clause appears in the printed document in the ASV, Inquisitorato agli Ebrei, envelope 39, while it is missing from the manuscript text of the privileges (ibidem, envelope 19, doc no. 4).

[24] Cfr. Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., pp. 75-77.

[25] Cfr. Manoussacas, Le recueuil de privilèges, cit., p. 345. See also Sanudo's comments on the year 1466: "In questo mezo Vettor Capello, Capetanio Zeneral nostro, haveno hautto pr via di quel David (Mavrogonato) hebreo il salvoconducto dal Signor turcho di poter la Signoria mandarli uno ambassado [... per] veder i tratar qualche acordo" ["In this way, Vettor Capello, our Captain General, having obtained through David (Mavrogonato) a safeconduct from the Great Turk to send an ambassador […to] attempt to reach some agreement["], (Sanudo, Le vite dei dogi, cit., vol. II, pp. 88-89.

[26] In a letter dated 18 December 1470 and addressed to the Duke of Crete, the Doge referred to Mavrogonato’s death ("qui denique eundo in servitiis nostri admisit vitam") ["who was furthermore acting in our service at the risk of his life"], praising his loyalty to the Republic (cfr. Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., pp. 76-77).

[27] Among the privileges granted on 2 July 1466 by the Consiglio dei Dieci to David Mavrogonato, his children and descendents, in addition to his bodyguards, Andrea Cornaro also reported that of "di non portar beretta giallo or altro segno, che portano li Hebrei nel capello, ma portion il capello negro come li Christiani, per la qual cosa d'alhora in qua detti Hebrei Mavrgonato si dicono Mauroberti (recte: Maurobereti) per sopranome, che vuol dire baretta negra" ["of not wearing a yellow cap or other sign usually worn by Jews on their hats, but to wear a black cap like the Christians, for which reason Mavrogonato was thereafter called by the last name of Mauroberti, which means black cap"] (cfr. Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., p. 79).

[28] "David praedictus dixit et declaravit quod socius suus, signi non portandi et arma [ferendi], est Salamon qn. Marcu, cuius auxilio et consilio usus fuit in praedictus et omnia (recte: circa) praedicta"

["the aforementioned David said and declared that Salomone, son of the late Marcuccio, was his assistant and advisor in all the aforementioned activities, being entitled to carry a weapon to go about without any insignia"]

(ASV, Inquisitorato algi Ebrei, envelope 39, Per David Maurogonato contro Senseri Ordinarj di Rialto, dated 1 February 1464 [1463 more veneto].

[29] On 17 June 1465, David Mavrogonato announced to two representatives of the Consiglio dei Dieci "quod relinquit pro eo et agendis suis in Venetiis Salomonem de Plebisacci hebreum, quia de eo se confidet" ["that the Jew Salomone da Piove was acting on his behalf and as his agent, since he had complete confidence in him]; (the document, published in the original by Manoussacas, is cited by Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., p. 74 and by Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., p. 42). The privileges granted by the authorities at Venice to Salomone da Piove are indirectly confirmed by in a parte, approved by the Consiglio del Comune di Padova on 22 January 1467. In this, the Paduan rulers claimed that they were applying the standards of the Statutes against Salomone ("casum querelle seu accuse contra Iudeum de Plebe") ["because of the quarrels caused by his accusations against Salomone da Piove"], notwithstanding the protection which he enjoyed in Venice (Archivio di Stato di Padova [henceforth: ASP], Consiglio del Commune, Atti, 7, c. 202v).

[30] On Salomone di Marcuccio da Piove di Sacco and his family, see 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 (XVI-XVIII Centuries), Ramat Gan, 1989, pp. 151-178; Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 27-60; D. Nissim, I primordi della stampa ebraica nell'Italia settentrionale. Piove di Sacco-Soncino (1469-1496), Soncino, 2004, pp. 90-13.

[31] In this regard, see, among others, Ph. Braunstein, Le commerce du fer à Venise au Xve siècle, in "Studi Veneziani", VIII (1966), pp. 267-302; Le prêt sur gage a Padoue et dans le Padouan au milieu du XVe siècle, in G. Cozzi, Gli ebrei e Venezia (secoli XIV-XVIII), Milan,

1987, pp. 652-653; M. Toch, The Formation of a Diaspora. The Settlement of Jews in the Medieval German Reich, in "Aschkenas", VII (1997), no. 1, pp. 55-78. For an illustration of this phenomenon, see also L. Boeninger, La Regula bilingue della scuola dei calzolai tedeschi a Venezia del 1383, Venice, 2002.

[32] Cfr. A. Toaff, Migrazioni di ebrei tedeschi attraverso i territori triestini e friulani fra XIV e XV secolo, in G. Todeschini and P.C. Ioly Zorattini, Il mondo ebraico. Gli ebrei tra Italia-nord-orientale e Impero asburgico dal Medioevo all'Età contemporanea, Pordenone, 1991, pp. 3-29; A. Toaff, Gli insediamenti ashkenaziti nell'Italia settentrionale,in Storia d'Italia. Annali. XI: Gli ebrei in Italia, tome I: Dall'Alto Medioevo all'eta dei ghetti, by C. Vivanti, Turin, 1996, pp. 153-171.

[33] Cfr. R.C. Mueller, Les prêteurs juifs de Venise au Moyen Age, in "Annales ESC", XXX (1975), pp. 1277-1302; Id., The Jewish Moneylenders of the Late Trecento Venise. A Revisitation, in "Mediterranean Historical Review", X (1995), pp. 202-217.

[34] Cfr. E. Concina, Parva Jerusalem, in E. Concina, U. Camerino and D. Calabri, La città degli ebrei. Il ghetto di Venezia: architettura e urbanistica, Venice, 1991, pp. 24-25.

[35] Cfr. E. Ashtor, Gli inizi della communita ebraica a Venezia, in "La Rassegna Mensile di Israel", XLIV (1978), pp. 700-701 (the essay has been republished in U. Fortis, Venezia ebraica, Rome, 1982, 17-39). See also Nissim, Un "minian" di ebrei ashkenaziti a Venezia, cit., pp. 44-45.

[36] Cfr. Toaff, Migrazioni di ebrei tedeschi, cit., pp. 7-8, 15-21; Id., Gli insediamenti ashkenaziti nell'Italia settentrionale, cit., 157-159, 165-171.

[37] Still at the beginnings of the Seventeenth century, Leon (Jehudah Arieh) da Modena, rabbi at Venice, observed, in this regard, that "nella pronuntia di essa lingua Hebrea sono talmente poi tra di loro differenti, che a pena sono intesi i Thedeschi da gl'Italiani" ["they pronounce the Hebrew language so differently from Italian Jews can hardly understand the German ones"]. (Leon da Modena, Historia de gli riti hebraici, Paris, 1637, p. 36). An informative document in this regard is the inventory of good transported by an Ashkenazi Jew, a native of one of the Jewish communities of northern Italy and traveling to Schwedt in the diocese of Brandenburg, not far from Frankfurt am Oder, in the last quarter of the 15th Century, on his travels. The interesting list appears drawn up in Hebrew and Yiddish, while the Italian terms are transcribed in Hebrew letters (cfr. A.K. Offenberg, How to Define Printing in Hebrew. A Fifteenth-Century List of Goods of a Jewish Traveller and his Wife, in "The Library", Oxford, VI s., XVI (1994), pp. 43-49).

[38] Cfr. A. Toaff, Convergenze sul Veneto di banchiere ebrei romani e tedeschi nel tardo Medioevo, in Cozzi, Gli ebrei e Venezia, cit., pp. 595-613. See also Ph. Braunstein (ibidem, p. 690), which accepts my own conclusions as stated above.

[39] Cfr. M. Lucchetta, Benedetto Jew of Ratisbona de fu maestro Josef banchiero pubblico di Venzone, Udine, 1971. See also M. Davide, La communità ebraica nella Venzone del Quattrocento, in "Ce fastu", LXXX (2004), pp. 167-186.

[40] Cfr. M de Szombathely, Libro delle Riformazioni or Libro dei Consigli (1411-1429), Trieste, 1970, pp. 4-6.

[41] Cfr. Toaff, Gli insediamenti ashkenaziti nell'Italia settentrionale, cit., pp. 162-163.

[42] Cfr. Id., Migrazioni di ebrei tedeschi, cit., pp. 11-14.

[43] Cfr. Id., Gli insediamenti ashkenaziti nell'Italia settentrionale, cit., pp. 160-161.

[44] Cfr. A. Sinnacher, Beiträge zur Geschichte der bischöflichen Kirche Saben und Brixen in Tryol, Brixen, 1826, pp. 3-21; R. Palme, Sulla storia sociale e giuridica degli ebrei in Tirolo nel tardo Medievo e all'inizio dell'età moderna, in "Materiali di Lavoro", 1988, nos. 1-4, 119- 130.

[45] Cfr. L. Billiani, Dei Toscani ed ebrei prestatori di denaro a Gemona, Udine, 1895, pp. 123-126.

[46] The most important (and perhaps not the only) exception seems to be that of Vicenza, in which the Italian (Roman) element gained the upper hand over the Ashkenazi during the Fifteenth Century. See R. Scuro, Alcune notizie sulla presenza ebraica a Vicenza nel XV secolo, in G.M. Varanini and R.C. Mueller Ebrei nella Terraferma veneta del Quattrocento, Florence, 2005, p. 106.

[47] The processes and events which, in the mid-Fifteenth Century, led to the forced transfer of money lending in this zone from Italian Jews to German Jews have been studied in many precise research papers. See, among others, Braunstein, Le prêt sur gage a Padoue, cit., pp. 651- 669; G.M. Varanini, Appunti per la storia del prestito de dell'insediamento ebraico a Verona nel Quattrocento, in Cozzi, Gli ebrei e Venezia, cit., pp. 615-628; G.M. Varanini, Il commune di Verona, Venezia e gli ebrei nel Quattrocento. Problemi e linee di ricerca, in Id., Communi cittadini e stato regionale. Ricerche sulla Terraferma veneta nel Quattrocento, Verona, 1992, pp. 279-293; M. Nardello, Il prestito ad sua a Vinceza e la vicenda delgi ebrei nei secoli XIV e XIV, in "Odeo Olimpico", XIII-XIV (1977-1978), pp. 123-125; Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, cit., pp. 34, 130-132; Scuro, Alcune notizie sulla presenza ebraica a Vicenza, cit., pp. 103-121.

[48] See Braunstein's intelligent contributions in this regard, Le prêt sur gage à Padoue, cit., pp. 662-663.

[49] It is significant that, on 12 January 1461, the Consiglio del Commune di Padova lamented the fact that, with the formal coverage of the banks of Piove di Sacco, Monselice and Este, the Jewish money lenders continued to operate illegally on the market at Padua, charging interest at rates over 40% ("contra Statuta nonnulli Iudei per quamdam viam indirectam fenerari incipient in civitate Padue hoc modo, videlicit quod in Padua accipiunt pignora et mutuant pecunias et postea fieri faciunt bulletinem per Iudeos fenerantes in Montessellice vel Plebe aut in Este, fingendo quod Iudeus de Plebe aut de Montesselice vel de Este sit ille qui mutuet tales pecunias, cum quibus Iudeis de ei habitantes Padue ses intelligunt cum lucro quadraginta pro centenario ut ultra"). ["notwithstanding the laws stipulating that no Jew may lend at usury in the city of Padua, either directly or indirectly, particularly, that they accept collateral in Padua and lend money at usury and then fabricate vouchers from Jewish money lenders at Piove or Montesselice or Este, pretending that it is those Jews who are actually lending the money in Padua, thus making a profit of forty percent or more"]. The rulers of Padua protested before the Doge of Venice, objecting to the fact that Jewish money lenders had been granted the right to operate in this manner thanks to letters patent issued in their favor by the authorities of Venice ("quod sua Excelsitudo dignetur revocare dictas litteras concessas prefatis Iudeis, quia, stantibus dictis litteris, dicti Iudei per hanc viam mutuabunt percunias sub uxuris; nam si mutuarent publice et palam sicut facere soliti errant, non haberent nisi .XV pr centenario" ["may his Excellency deign to revoke the said letters granted to the above mentioned Jews, because, being in the possession of such letters, these Jews are enabled to lend money at usury; while if they did so publicly and openly as they usually do, they would not even earn 15 percent"] ASP, Consiglio del Comune, Atti, 7., cc. Cv-6r).

[50] Salomone, in 1441, when he was still called "da Cividale " and not yet "da Piove di Sacco", had set up banks at Verona and Soave, transferring them to Padua in 1442 (cfr. A. Castaldini, Mondi paralleli. Ebrei e Cristiani nell'Italia padana dal tardo Medioevo all'Età moderna, Florence, 2004, p. 59).

[51] This is attested to by numerous studies by D. Nissim. Among others, particular attention should be paid to D. Nissim, Nel quinto centenario delle prime stampe ebraiche (1475-1975), in "Atti e Memorie dell'Academia Patavina di Scienze, Lettere ed Arte, LXXXVI (1975-1976), part III, pp. 43-52; Id., Spigolature di bibliografia ebraica, in A. Toaff, Studi sull'ebraismo italiano presentati ad Elio Toaff, Rome, 1984; pp: 129-155; Id., I primordi della stampa ebraica nell'Italia Settentrionale, cit. 52) The hypothesis, sustained by Nissim (Famiglie Rapa e Rapaport nell'Italia settentrionale, sec. XV-XVI. Con un' appendice sull'origine della Miscellanea Rothschild, in A. Piattelli and M. Silvera, Minhat Yehuda. Saggi sull'ebraismo italiano in memoria di Yehuda Nello Pavoncello, Rome, 2001, pp. 190-192), is based on the studies of U. Bauer-Eberhardt (Die Rotschild Miscellanea in Jerusalem: Hauptwerke des Leonardo Bellini , in "Pantheon", XLII, 1984, pp. 229-237), expressing the opinion that the miniatures in Miscellanea Rotschild, currently preserved at the Israel Museum of Jerusalem, were probably executed at Venice in Leonardo Bellini's workshop, and perhaps by the same master. But see L. Mortara Ottolenghi, The Rotschild Miscellany MS 180/51 of the Israel Musem in Jerusalem. Jewish Patrons and Christian Artists , in "Hebrew Studies", British Library Occasional Papers, 13, London, 1991, pp. 149-161. In contrast to Bauer-Eberhardt and Nissim, the illustrious Canadian scholar attributes the miniatures to the schools of two major Christian artists of Cremona, Bonifacio Bembo and Cristoforo de Predis (circa 1460-1480), identifying the client as the Jew Furlano da Cremona, i.e., the banker Mose di Consiglio Sacerdoti. According to Nissim, who believes that he has succeeded in identifying the client as Salomone di Marcuccio da Piove, a resident of Venice; the reason why the latter's name does not appear in the manuscript, where the name of the rabbi Moshè b. Jekutiel Coen Rapa, his protégé, does appear, could be explained by Salomone's sudden and mysterious death, occurring in 1475, when the code was not yet completed (written communication from D. Nissim dated 11 November 2004).

[52] The hypothesis, sustained by Nissim (Famiglie Rapa e Rapaport nell'Italia settentrionale, sec. XV-XVI. Con un' appendice sull'origine della Miscellanea Rothschild, in A. Piattelli and M. Silvera, Minhat Yehuda. Saggi sull'ebraismo italiano in memoria di Yehuda NelloPavoncello, Rome, 2001, pp. 190-192), is based on the studies of U. Bauer-Eberhardt (Die Rotschild Miscellanea in Jerusalem: Hauptwerke des Leonardo Bellini, in "Pantheon", XLII, 1984, pp. 229-237), expressing the opinion that the miniatures in Miscellanea Rotschild, currently preserved at the Israel Museum of Jerusalem, were probably executed at Venice in Leonardo Bellini's workshop, and perhaps by the same master. But see L. Mortara Ottolenghi, The Rotschild Miscellany MS 180/51 of the Israel Musem in Jerusalem. Jewish Patrons and Christian Artists, in "Hebrew Studies", British Library Occasional Papers, 13, London, 1991, pp. 149-161. In contrast to Bauer-Eberhardt and Nissim, the illustrious Canadian scholar attributes the miniatures to the schools of two major Christian artists of Cremona, Bonifacio Bembo and Cristoforo de Predis (circa 1460-1480), identifying the client as the Jew Furlano da Cremona, i.e., the banker Mose di Consiglio Sacerdoti.According to Nissim, who believes that he has succeeded in identifying the client as Salomone di Marcuccio da Piove, a resident of Venice; the reason why the latter's name does not appear in the manuscript, where the name of the rabbi Moshè b. Jekutiel Coen Rapa, his protégé, does appear, could be explained by Salomone's sudden and mysterious death, occurring in 1475, when the code was not yet completed (written communication from D. Nissim dated 11 November 2004).

[53] Cfr. Segre, Cristiani novelli e medici ebrei a Venezia, cit., pp. 388-389.

[54] Cfr. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività, pp. 44-45.

[55] Cfr. Ibidem, p. 39. It is important to note that on 25 March 1470, a few months before David Mavrogonato's last voyage, the Serenissima charged Salomone da Piove with effecting, for his account, a loan of 100 ducats to Mavrogonato ("David hebreo de Candia"). The money was to be used by the Candian government to pay the captain of the galleys of Alexandria (ASV, Collegio, Notatorio, reg. 11, 68r). Venice's intention was therefore that Mavrogonato should reach Candia, a location to which he never returned -- probably for good reason -- after the first mission.

[56] Salomone da Piove's plan emerges clearly from a petition sent by his son Salamoncino to the Consiglio dei Dieci of Venice dated 9 July 1477. On the Venetian conspiracy against Maometo II, see, F. Babinger, Ja'acub-Pascha, ein Leibartzt Mehmeds II, Leben und Schicksale des Maestro Jacopo aus Gaeta, in "Rivista delgi Studi Orientali", XXVI (1951), pp. 87-113.

[57] The famous family of Wallach di Worms, the members of which were, by medical tradition, has left us numerous numerous testimonies, which are particularly far-reaching starting with the early Cinquecento. Cfr. Jewish Encyclopedia, New York-London, 1901-1906, s.v. Wallich (Wlk). The name Valk, Volk, Valke for Falco, Falcone is attested to in the Middle Ages among the Jews of Cologne, Nuremberg and Frankfurt (cfr. A. Beider, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names, Bergenfield, N.J., 2001, p. 306).

[58] Cfr. Babinger, Ja'aqub-Pascha, cit., pp. 106-107.

[59] Cfr. ibidem, pp. 90-106; B. Lewis, The Privilege Granted by Mehmed II to his Physician, in "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies", XIV (1952), pp. 550-563.

[60] Cfr. Jacoby, Un agent juif, cit., pp. 76-77.

[61] On these events, see Esposito and Qualiglioni, Processi, cit., vol. I, pp. 1-51. Among the defense attorneys acting for the Trent defendants was Antonio Capodilista, one of the most illustrious jurists in Padua (cfr. ibidem, pp. 447-454).

[62] Cfr. Nissim, I primordi della stampa ebraica nell'Italia Settentrionale, cit., pp. 12-13.

[63] "Salomon [Fürstungar] ivert ad Illustriss. Principem Ducem Austriae [...] et Salomon dixit res male succebat, quia persuasum erat Illustriss. Principi quod deberet pati quod iustitia haberet suum locum et quod, si volebat quod justitia haberet suum locum, erat necesse quod procedatur contra Judeos incarceratos, et hoc ut sciretur an praedicti Judaei incarcerati essent culpabiles vel inculpabiles, et quod si reperirentur inculpabiles relaxarentur, et si culpabiles punirentur. Et quo ex ista ratione Illustriss.

Princips noluerunt mandare quod praedicti Judaei incarcerati relaxarentur".

["Salomon [Fürstungar] turned to the Prince Duke of Autria […] and Salomon said that things were going very badly, because the Illustrious Prince was convinced that justice should be done and that, if he wished justice to be done, it was necessary to proceed against the imprisoned Jews, and a determination should be made as to their guilt or innocence, and that if they were innocent, they should be released, and that if they were guilty they should be punished. And it was for this reason that the Illustrious Prince did not wish to release the aforementioned Jews from prison"].

Cfr. [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetica sul martirio del beato Simone da Trent nell'anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso, Trent, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, p. 145. Bonelli's research, although often invalidated by anti-Semitic prejudice in its conclusions, is always documented and performed with scientific accuracy. See also Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, pp. 77-94. "Salomone [Fürstungar] could not be recognized as a Jew because he wore a jacket cut in the German manner and a short cloak and had a German-style cap on his head" (cfr. ibidem, pp. 92-93).

[64] In 1476, in a document from Verona, Salamoncino's son is referred to as "Salamoncinus quondam Salamonis de Plebe" (cfr. Varanini, Appunti per la storia del prestito, cit., p. 627).

[65] On Manno di Aberlino (Mendele b. Abraham), banker at Pavia and one of the most important exponents of the Jewish community in the Duchy of Milan, see Sh. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, Jerusalem, 1982, vol. II, pp. 486, no. 1144 and 534, no. 1267. Manno da Pavia's geneology has been reconstructed by Carpi (Notes on the Life of R. Judah Messer Leon, cit., p. 62). The Jews in the Ashkenazi community of Northern Italy called Manno da Pavia "uno de' piu ricchi hebrei" ["one of the richest Jews"].

[66] Cfr. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit., vol. II, pp. 864-865, no. 2078.

[67] In 1476, as shall see below, Manno offered to pay an assassin to kill the bishop of Trent, offering him a sum which would have had to be paid to him in part out of the bank in Venice. Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 167.

[68] "Dum ipse Presbyter Paulus esset Papiae, Man Judaeus ibi habibator dedid sibi Presbytero Paulo certas litteras, quas deferre debebat Venetias et illas consignare cuidamn Omnibono Judaeo, quae litterae, prout Man dixit sibi Presbytero Paulo, continebant istud, videlicet quod Man mittebat ipsum Presbyterum Paulum ad Omnibonum ut idem Omnibonus instrueret ipsum [...] de modo venenandi praelibatum Reverendissimum D. Episcopum Tridentinum"

[Approximately: "When Paolo the priest was in Padua, Manno the Jew, who lived there, gave Paolo, the priest, certain letters which he was to take to Venice and deliver to a certain Omobono, a Jew. The letters said that Manno was sending Paolo to Omobono and that Omobono was to instruct the priest […] on how best to poison the Most Reverend Bishop of Trent"]

(cfr. [Bonelli] Dissertazione apologetica, cit., pp. 146-147).

[69] Cfr. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 147.

[70] The records of the Trent trials contain transcriptions, marred by many errors, of a letter in Hebrew, signed by Manno da Pavia and addressed to Omobono in the month of March 1476 ("all' esperto medico Simcha Bunim Sal di Venezia"). The letter had been confiscated from the priest Paolo da Novara, who intended to visit Venice to meet the Jewish physician according to instructions received. The letter carried information relating to the forthcoming payment of 90 ducats "nelle mani della persona in oggetto" ["into the hands of the person in object"] (the beneficiary is a Christian), as part payment of an agreed sum. The message contains a covert allusion to the delicate mission which the priest from Novara intended to undertake, and to Omobono's involvement in the conspiracy against Hinderbach: "Se il latore della presente lettera (sc. Paolo da Novara) ti parlara, prestagli ascolto e poi decidi secondo la tua intelligenza" ["If the bearer of the present letter speaks to you, pay attention and then decide according to your intelligence"] (Archivio di Stato di Trento [henceforth: AST], Archivio Principesco Vescovile, s.l., 69, 68). Another letter, preserved in the same compendium, but written in yiddish and dated 5 May 5236 (=1476) contains confirmation of the physician Omobono di Venezia's major role within Ashkenazi society of northern Italy and of the fear which he inspired among the Jews themselves: "Sappiate, miei cari che Bunim (Omobono) il medico ci ha portato un invito, che ci obbliga a recarci a Padova, perche e lui stesso a convocarsi tutti cola [...], ma qui, grazie a Dio, non abbiamo paura di lui" ["Know, my dear friend Bunim (Omobono), the doctor has brought us an invitation, which obliges us to go to Padua, because he’s inviting us all there personally […] but here, thank God, we are not afraid of him"].

[71] On these events, see Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, pp. 146-177.



Revised by the original translators, Feb. 2011

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