Katherine Aron-Beller
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Jews, Papal Inquisitors, and the Estense dukes

In 1598, the year that Duke Cesare d'Este lost Ferrara to Papal forces and moved the capital of his duchy to Modena, the Papal Inquisition in Modena was elevated from vicariate to full Inquisitorial status. This chapter studies the political situation in Modena, the socio-religious predicament of Modenese Jews, how the Roman Inquisition in Modena was established despite ducal restrictions and finally the steps taken by the Holy Office to gain jurisdiction over professing Jews. The presence of Jews in the duchy of Modena can be traced back to 1025. Three centuries later, in 1336, when the city came under the rule of the Estense dukes based in Ferrara, Duke Borso I d'Este granted the Modenese Jews privileges which entitled them to maintain religious institutions and to lend money at moderate interest. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Modena proved to be a safe haven for Jewish difference.

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Jews on trial

The Papal Inquisition in Modena, 1598–1638


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