The Jewish community of early modern Venice was perhaps the leading Jewish community of its time. It emerged as a response to the desire of the Venetian government to make credit readily available and, toward the end of the 16th century, it greatly expanded as Venice, faced with a serious decline in its international maritime trade, adopted a policy of attracting Iberian New Christian merchants. Yet Jews were still treated as the Other and subjected to restrictions and discriminatory measures, including confinement to a segregated enclosed quarter; the 'ghetto'. Despite this, the interplay between economically motivated raison d'état and traditional religious hostility resulted in a delicate balance which enabled the Jewish community of Venice to assume a real leadership role in the world of the Iberian Jewish Diaspora. Based extensively on previously unconsulted documents, these articles deal with central issues in the experience of the Jews of Venice, and so of Diaspora Jewish history in general: the Jewish quarter, maritime trade and urban moneylending, the Jewish distinguishing head-covering, relations with church and state, the forced baptism of Jewish minors, the converso problem, and anti-Judaism.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Curfew time in the Ghetto of Venice; Christian travelers in the Ghetto of Venice: some preliminary observations; From yellow to red: on the distinguishing head-covering of the Jews of Venice; An introduction to the charters of the Jewish merchants of Venice; Venice, Rome, and the reversion of new Christians to Judaism: a study in Ragione di Stato; The forced baptism of Jewish minors in early modern Venice; Moneylending in 17th-century Jewish vernacular apologetica; Contra Judaeos in 17th-century Italy: two responses to the Discorso of Simone Luzzatto by Melchiore Palontrotti and Giulio Morosini; Between the myth of Venice and the lachrymose conception of Jewish history: the case of the Jews of Venice; Index.
Benjamin Ravid is Jennie and Mayer Weisman Professor of Jewish History, Brandeis University, USA
'This collection of articles will serve as a useful introduction to the legal and political situation of Jews in early modern Venice.' Sixteenth Century Journal