Katherine Aron-Beller
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The piazza
Verbal offences on the streets of Modena

There were twenty-two processi in which Jews were prosecuted for blasphemy, heretical blasphemy and insults. These processi are considered as legal narratives in the same genre and show the efforts of the Inquisition to control Jewish speech. Three of these processi are described in this chapter. They suggest the degree to which poor Jews in Modena, as opposed to the wealthier classes, adopted the language of their Christian neighbours and provide a commentary on the social conflict produced by their public behaviour. They represent three types of cases which recur at intervals throughout our forty-year period, that is, simple blasphemy, heretical blasphemy, and abuse of neophytes or Jews on the margins of society. Inquisitorial processi for verbal offences have important implications for the issues of morality, discipline and communal conflict that were prevalent within the Jewish community.

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Jews on trial

The Papal Inquisition in Modena, 1598–1638


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