Joseph Shatzmiller

title.none: Bardelle, Juden in einem Transit- und Bruckenland (Shatzmiller)

identifier.other: baj9928.9907.015 99.07.15

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Joseph Shatzmiller, Duke University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1999

identifier.citation: Thomas Bardelle. Juden in einem Transit- und Bruckenland: Studien zur Geschichte der Juden in Savoyen-Piemont bis zum Ende der Herrschaft Amadeus VIII. Forschungen zur Geschichete der Juden, vol. A.5. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1998. Pp. xii, 395. ISBN: 3-775-25614-8.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 99.07.15

Thomas Bardelle. Juden in einem Transit- und Bruckenland: Studien zur Geschichte der Juden in Savoyen-Piemont bis zum Ende der Herrschaft Amadeus VIII. Forschungen zur Geschichete der Juden, vol. A.5. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1998. Pp. xii, 395. ISBN: 3-775-25614-8.

Reviewed by:

Joseph Shatzmiller
Duke University

Readers of our bulletin must by now be acquainted with the series "Researches in the History of the Jews" directed by Professor Alfred Haverkamp of the University of Trier, Germany (cf. the review of G. Mentgen's History of the Jews in Alsace, TMR 98.04.07). Thomas Bardelle's History of the Jews in the County (later: duchy) of Savoy-Piemont is the fifth volume of the series. Like all Haverkamp's disciples, Bardelle's work is marked by lengthy and painstaking research in numerous archives and innumerable books and articles produced by predecessors and contemporaries, especially, for the last category, by the archival research of Ms. Renata Segre of Venice. The frequent presence of Professor Israel Yeuval of Jerusalem enables the school of Trier to be aware of research carried on in Israel as well as of the information to be found in medieval documents written in Hebrew.

Of the six chapters of the book, two are dedicated to historical geography (p 21- 142). Bardelle does not leave a stone unturned, looking to the existence of Jews not only in capital cities like Chambery or Bourg-en-Bresse but in odd localities with tiny Jewish communities as well. For the most, these are immigrants--refugees, one may say--arriving from mainland France as a result of the general expulsion of 1306 and (especially) 1394. Harsh treatment of some of them in their new localities made them migrate to Piemont, where-- opposition of local population notwithstanding--some families strike roots and where their descendants could be identified in our twentieth century. I have in mind the Momiglianos, the Treves and of course the Foas.

Much information is to be found in the registers culled by Dr. Bardelle (and by Dr. Segre before him) about taxation of the Jews, as groups as well as individuals (pp. 145- 149). On the other hand, patterns of Jewish money-lending are difficult to discern and a comparison between their activity in the field and that of the Italians seems to be impossible (pp. 56-57). More is known about inner Jewish life, for instance the strife around the famous "Investiture" controversy in which Johanan Treves claimed the supreme rabbinate over the Jews of the county (pp. 233-241). Relationships between Jews and Gentiles can be documented as well. While Savoy can boast about the fact that in 1329 its judges rejected the allegation that Jews commit ritual murder, less than twenty years later some of the same jurists gave credence to the accusation that Jews, by poisoning wells, were responsible for the eruption of the plague of 1348-1350. Not only was "protection money" squeezed from the Jews; after "proper" procedural actions many of them were sentenced to death and indeed executed in the capital Chambery and in several localities around the Lake of Geneva (pp. 243-265).

Savoy of 1416-1417 and then of 1431, served also as the stage for an inquisitional theater, a process against the Talmud and the burning at the stake of all copies that could be found. Jewish converts to Christianity played a major role in these procedures. Bardelle sees it in its wider context, namely the famous and devastating--from a Jewish point of view-- disputation of Tortosa (Spain) in 1413-1314, the presence in Savoy of the pernicious anti-Jewish Dominican Preacher Vincent Ferrer as well as the emotions raised by the council of Constance between the years 1414 and 1418. That Amadeus VIII of Savoy was raised in 1416 by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to the dignity of Duke may have incited him to appear as a "most Christian ruler" in the image of Saint Louis of France who initiated a trial against the Talmud in 1240.

Nothing much can be added to this handsomely produced book which is accompanied by instructive maps and interesting tables. I shall limit myself therefore to three observations. First, Bardelle realizes that Jews served as doctors all over the region (pp. 205-209) but does not insist, relying on table no. 2 (pp. 320-321) that at the year 1414, in Chambery at least six Jewish physicians and surgeons were acting side by side, a phenomenon attested for other cities as well. The second observation concerns the Rabbi Sansin de Louhans of Bourg en Bresse (cf. Index): a leader of his community, he may have been one of the forefathers of Joseph (Yosselman) of Rosheim, the major political leader of Alsatian and German Jews at the first half of the sixteenth century. Joseph belonged, as we know, to the family "Lohans." Finally, a remark concerning Johanan of Treves is in order. His appeal to Catalonia at the height of the "Investiture Controversy," while still in Paris, seems to be far from an innocent act. His father, Matitiyahu Treves, was a colleague of Issac bar Sheshet (The "Ribash") to whom the complaint was addressed. Matitiyahu and bar Sheshet studied together in Spain under the guidance of Peretz ha-Cohen of Manosque and Nissim Girondi (cf. S. Buber (ed.) Schaare Zion, Jaroslau 1885, p. 48).

I hope that Dr. Bardelle will find these observations interesting, as much as I have found interesting each and every page of his book.