Ger 312 Jews 14th – 17th Centuries

Jewish History: Fourteenth through Seventeenth Centuries



Based on: Judah Gribetz, Edward L. Greenstein, and Regina Stein, The Timetables of Jewish History. A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in Jewish History (New York, London, et al.: Simon & Schuster, 1993)





Synopsis by A. Classen





As with any such historical overview, there is a considerable subjective factor involved.  Many more names, especially of women, economic developments, literary and artistic productions would have to be mentioned.  The following skeleton, however, provides a relatively solid framework.





1347 Black Death, charges of well poisoning against Jews throughout Europe; pogroms; Pope Clement VI in Avignon, Emperor Charles IV of Germany, and King Pedro IV of Aragon try to protect Jews, but to no avail, especially since they profit from the pogroms as well.





1364 University of Cracow founded on the site of former Jewish houses





1367 Jews are expelled from Hungary





1384 Jews are expelled from Lucerne, Switzerland (also from Berne, 1408 and 1427; Fribourg, 1428, Zurich, 1436, and Geneva, 1490). Increasingly Christian money lenders take over the banking business from Jews and undermine their competitors’ livelihood





c.1400 Geoffrey Chaucer writes his Canterbury Tales, in which he includes the highly anti-Semitic “Prioress’s Tale”





1407 Anti-Jewish riots in Poland, but Jews still fare best in Poland and Lithuania during that time





1413 Disputation of Tortosa convoked by Pope Benedict XIII in an attempt to convert the Jews, charges against Jews mostly based on Ramond Martini’s Pugio Fidei (Dagger of Faith)





1415 Antipope Benedict XIII issues a bull prohibiting Jews from making crucifixes





1420 Hussites revolt in Bohemia and Moravia, also directed against Jews





1421 Jews massacred in Vienna, expelled from Linz, Cologne (1424), Augsburg (1439), Bavaria (1442 and 1450), and the crown cities of Moravia (1454)





1429 Pope Martin V issues a bull forbidding the Franciscans to preach against Jews, or to infringe on their religious practices





1442 Pope Eugenius IV (1431-1447) issues an edict forbidding Italian Jews to build new synagogues, lend money for interest, hold public offices, etc.





1453 Jews are expelled from Breslau as a result of ritual murder libel





1464 First Chair of Hebrew established at the University of Bologna





1473 First two Hebrew book presses, one in Reggio di Calabria, the other in Pieva da Saca, followed by Naples and Mantua





1480 Queen Isabella of Castile instructs her court painter to prohibit Jews from painting religious figures





1483 Jews are expelled from all of Andalusia





1488 First complete edition of Hebrew Bible printed in Soncino, Italy





1491 Jews of Ravenna are expelled (also from Perugia, 1485; Gubbio, 1486; Campo San Pietro, 1492; Brescia, 1494)





1492 Jews are expelled from Spain; majority flees to Portugal, where they will be expelled 1496/1497, and to North Africa and Turkey. Turkey the only country to welcome Jews





1494 Jews expelled from Florence and other Tuscan cities with the fall of the house of Medici; when the latter regain the power in 1513, Jews are allowed to return





1495 Jews are expelled from Lithuania because of wide-spread fear of Jewish proselytization, especially since they hold highest governmental offices; decree revoked soon thereafter, privileges for Jews renewed in 1503





1495 Charles VIII of France occupies the kingdom of Naples, persecutes Jews who had fled there from Spain; Jews will be expelled from Naples in 1510 and again in 1541





1496 King Emanuel I the Fortunate of Portugal expels the Jews because he wants to unite his country with Spain; later he decides to allow the Jews to stay for economic reasons; Emperor Maximilian I expels Jews from Styria and Carinthia





1497 Vasco da Gama consults Abraham Zacuto, the Spanish astronomer, now Portuguese court astronomer, about the use of his tables, maritime charts, and astrolabe





1500 Disputation in Ferrara between Christians and Abraham Farissol of Avignon





1503 Polish monarchy appoints Rabbi Jacob Polak “Rabbi of Poland” as a chief Rabbi, allows a form of Jewish self-government





1505 Jewish poet Solomon ben Mazzal Tov, exile from Spain (?), establishes the first printing press in Turkey








1507 Beginning of general interest in Hebrew studies among Humanists, such as Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522)





1508 Bishop of Cuba complains that almost every ship arriving from Europe is filled with Hebrews and Conversos (New Christians or Crypto Jews)





1509 Johannes Pfefferkorn, converted German Jew, begins a bitter campaign against Jews, tries to burn their books, partly blocked by Reuchlin





1516 Palestine becomes part of the Ottoman Empire, many Jews from Spain and Portugal move to the Ottoman Empire





1519 Jews are expelled from Regensburg, Germany





1520 Josel of Rosenheim (c. 1478-1554) convinces German Emperor Charles V to renew earlier privileges for Jews





Solomon ibn Verga (from Spain, settled in Italy), composes the famous Shevet Yehuda (Road of Judah)





1523 Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Reformation, writes Jesus Christ was a Jew, argues for peaceful conversion of Jews; later he will turn into a rabid anti-Semite





1526 Emperor Charles V issues a general safe-conduct to the Portuguese New Christians (Marranos); by 1550 they are, however, accused of aiding the Reformation and are expelled until Peace of Westphalia, 1648





1529 Scuola Grande Tedesca, oldest of the five main synagogues, is founded in the Venice ghetto (Ashkenazic congregation)





1530 First Hebrew press in Cracow, Poland





1534 Pogroms against Jews in Poland





1535 Spanish conquer Tunis, Jews have to flee to Naples and Genoa





1538 Polish Sejm (Diet) prohibits the leasing of royal revenues to Jews; Polish nobles compete against Jews for these leases





1539 Polish king transfers jurisdiction over the Jess to the nobles on whose private estates they live; this frees the Jews from persecutions by the burghers in the Polish cities





1541 Venetian Senate grants Levantine Jews permission to reside temporarily in Venice to improve the trade relations with the Balkan where many Jews live under Ottoman rule





1543 Martin Luther publishes his anti-Semitic About Jews and Their Lies; writes to Joachim II of Brandenburg to protest that the latter readmitted Jews to his territory





1544 First Yiddish translation of the Torah in Germany





1550 155 Jewish families expelled from the Palatinate (Calvinistic state)





1551 Grand Duke of Tuscany issues a charter to attract Sephardic Jewish merchants from the Balkans to Pisa





King Sigismund II (1548-1572) of Poland and Lithuania grants Jews to choose their own chief rabbi





1553 Ottoman Saloniki numbers over 20,000 Jews among its population, one of the largest Jewish communities in the world





Moses Isserles (1525/1530-1572), Polish rabbi, builds a synagogue in Cracow that will be used until after World War II; he is regarded as the Polish Maimonides and is the author of Mappah (Table Cloth) to Joseph Caro’s Shulhan Arukh (Prepared Table), a supplement to the code for use by Ashkenaciz Jews





Burning of the Talmud in Italy and ban on its printing





1554 Solomon ibn Verga’s Shevet Yehudah published in Adrianople





1555 Judah Leone Sommo (1527-1592), Italian Hebrew poet, writes An Eloquent Marriage Farce, probably the first Hebrew play





1559 Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) places the Talmud on the Index librorum prohibitorum; the following popes revert his decision





1560 Doña Gracia Mendes and her nephew Don Joseph Nasi (c. 1524-1579), wealthy former Marranos, apply to the Turkish authorities for permission to resettle Jewish refugees from Spain and Portugal in Tiberias; this permission is given





In Cremona, Judah Loeb Bresch publishes a Yiddish translation of the Torah, the Five Scrolls, and the Haftarot; Abramao Dall’Arpa (c. 1542-c. 1577), one of the outstanding harpists of his time, plays before the duke of Mantua





1563 Ivan IV the Terrible conquers Polotsk (today in Belarus) and forces the Jews to adopt Greek Orthodoxy; Polotsk recaptured by the Poles in 1579, and the forced converts publicly profess their Judaism





1568 Jewish district of Lublin, Poland, assumes the character of a quasi-independent Jewish municipality





1569 Pope Pius V (1566-1572) issues the bull Hebraeorum Gens, expelling the Jews from all localities in the papal state, except Ancona and Rome





Jews of Lvov are given complete control over the election of community officials and over communal politics





1571 Venetian government resolves to expel all Jews, though decision not enforced, but it is a reflection of the profound effects of the Counter-Reformation; the Turks, on the other hand, after their conquest of Cyprus, settle Jews there for economic reasons





1572 Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy invites Levantine Jews and Marranos to settle in Nice to develop Levant trade and to set up textile factories





1573 Elector Joachim II expels Jews from Brandenburg, Germany





1577 Jews are readmitted to the bishopric of Hildesheim, and also in Mainz, Speyer, and Strasbourg over the objections of the citizens





Emperor Rudolph II of Hapsburg grants Jews of Bohemia a charter of privileges; he appoints Marcus Meisel (1528-1601) financier of the crown





1579 Marranos settle in France again





1582 General synod of German Jewry meets to restore a comprehensive judicial and financial system for all of German Jewry; five new Jewish principal rabbinic courts





1593 Marcus Meisel, Prague financier, comes under direct protection of the emperor, gaining the status of a noble





Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) expels all the Jews living in the papal state





1594 Dr. Roderigo Lopes (1525-1594), physician to Queen Elizabeth I of England since 1586, is executed on a false charge of attempting to poison the queen; subsequently the Marrano community in England dwindles away





1595 A Portuguese Marrano community established in Amsterdam





The Catholic church establishes the Index Expurgatorius of Hebrew books which lists books that may not be read without having been censored





The Casale Monferrato synagogue in Piedmont is built





1597 Nine hundred Jews are expelled from Milan





1598 Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (c. 1525-1609) writes Be’er ha-Golah (Well of Exile) in which he condemns religious fanaticism and religious compulsion. He pleads that each nation be permitted to preserve its own faith; he is also famous as the creator of the legend of the Golem





1599 Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel writes Netsah Yisrael (Eternal One of Israel), a Jewish theory of history of civilization: God will not forsake the Jews, the Messiah will come, the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt; he believes that Palestine is the natural territorial center of the Jewish people





1601 Marranos are given permission to leave Spain and Portugal after selling their property, they settle in the German cities Hamburg, Altona, and Glückstadt, and in Denmark; there they soon return to their original Jewish belief





1602 A community of Jews lives openly in Amsterdam





1614 A Frankfurt mob, led by Vincent Fettmilch, plunders the Jewish quarters and expels the Jews. The German Emperor Matthias returns the Jews to their homes and hangs the leaders of the mob; event is later called the Purim of Vincnet





1615 Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), Holland’s leading jurist, reports of his findings of his commission appointed to consider a petition of Jews who fled from Spain and Portugal and who seek asylum in Holland. They decide in favor of admission, which leads to the flowering of Jewish life in Holland for the next centuries





1621 The German Emperor Ferdinand II gives the Jews of Vienna a new quarter for residence outside the city walls





1622 Ferdinand licenses a consortium to manage the minting of coins in Bohemia, among them the Jew Jacob Bassevi (1570-1634)





1623 Bohemian Jews are permitted to deal in grain, wine, and cloth