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The Papal Inquisition in Modena, 1598–1638

This book explores two areas of interest: the Papal Inquisition in Modena and the status of Jews in an early modern Italian duchy. Its purpose is to deepen existing insights into the role of the former and thus lead to a better understanding of how an Inquisitorial court assumed jurisdiction over a practising Jewish community in the seventeenth century. The book highlights one specific aspect of the history of the Jews in Italy: the trials of professing Jews before the Papal Inquisition at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Inquisitorial processi against professing Jews provide the earliest known evidence of a branch of the Papal Inquisition taking judicial actions against Jews on an unprecedented scale and attempting systematically to discipline a Jewish community, pursuing this aim for several centuries. The book focuses on Inquisitorial activity during the first 40 years of the history of the tribunal in Modena, from 1598 to 1638, the year of the Jews' enclosure in the ghetto, the period which historians have argued was the most active in the Inquisition's history. It argues that trials of the two groups are different because the ecclesiastical tribunals viewed conversos as heretics but Jews as infidels. The book emphasizes the fundamental disparity in Inquisitorial procedure regarding Jews, as well as the evidence examined, especially in Modena. This was where the Duke uses the detailed testimony to be found in Inquisitorial trial transcripts to analyse Jewish interaction with Christian society in an early modern community.

Open Access (free)
Katherine Aron-Beller

Conclusion This book has highlighted one specific aspect of the history of the Jews in Italy: the trials of professing Jews before the Papal Inquisition at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Inquisitorial processi against professing Jews provide the earliest known evidence of a branch of the Papal Inquisition taking judicial actions against Jews on an unprecedented scale and attempting system­atically to discipline a Jewish community, pursuing this aim for several centuries. Our purpose has been to deepen existing insights into the role of the Papal

in Jews on trial
Open Access (free)
Katherine Aron-Beller

Introduction This book explores two areas of interest: the Papal Inquisition in Modena and the status of Jews in an early modern Italian duchy. Its purpose is to deepen existing insights into the role of the former and thus lead to a better understanding of how an Inquisitorial court assumed jurisdiction over a practising Jewish community in the seventeenth century. In recent years, a significant number of publications and conferences has reflected increasing interest in the history of the Inquisition. However, efforts to identify individual Jews (who had no

in Jews on trial
Katherine Aron-Beller

1 Jews, Papal Inquisitors and the Estense dukes In 1598, the year that Duke Cesare d’Este (1562–1628) 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. Despite initial clashes with the Duke, the Inquisition began to prosecute not only heretics and blasphemers, but also professing Jews. Such a policy towards infidels by an organization appointed to enquire into heresy (inquisitio haereticae pravitatis) was unusual. In order to understand this process

in Jews on trial
Open Access (free)
Contested categories
Hans Peter Broedel

her fear of suspicion led her unwisely to take the offensive when the inquisitor appeared. If such were the case, her tactics were spectacularly ill-conceived. Institoris was a man who treasured his orthodoxy above all things, and we may well imagine that he was deeply offended by Scheuberin’s slander; more seriously, though, her attack upon the work of the Papal Inquisition was manifest evidence that she was herself either a heretic or a witch. A searching investigation of Scheuberin’s life and character ensued, TMM1 8/30/03 2 5:38 PM Page 2 THE MALLEUS

in The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft
Open Access (free)
Hans Peter Broedel

by witnesses and a notary, began to hear formal testimony concerning the suspects. Although the proceedings at Innsbruck did not conform to the neat patterns laid down in inquisitorial manuals, this was not unusual for the period. As Richard Kieckhefer has shown, in late-medieval Germany the activities of the papal Inquisition (to say nothing of episcopal inquisitions) were very much ad hoc affairs.Typically, inquisitors operated as independent autonomous agents; they had little supervision outside the papal curia, and their objectives and jurisdictions were only

in The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft
Open Access (free)
Katherine Aron-Beller

’s evidence and character witnesses who acted as compurgators for the suspect, rarely brought the acquittal of the suspect.24 The Papal Inquisition created a less multifarious procedure. Although, as in Spain, suspects were allowed to employ their own lawyers, after gaining licences from the court, and these advocates had to provide a questionnaire that character witnesses were subjected to, the main task of these men was to create an incontrovertible defence document which was presented to the Inquisitorial consultants for consideration.25 In the Venetian archives there is

in Jews on trial
Open Access (free)
Katherine Aron-Beller

Accademia, circulated Lutheran works in the city.102 By the end of the sixteenth century, the Congregation of the Index in Rome expected the Papal Inquisition, with the help of the episcopal court, to take care of the expurgation and removal of prohibited Hebrew literature in the Modenese duchy. Pope Julius III (1550–55) had in 1553 declared the Talmud and all Hebrew books prohibited, and copies of the Talmud had been burned in Rome as well as in other states in northern Italy. In the following year, the same Pope, with his bull Cum sicut nuper of 1554, changed his

in Jews on trial
Open Access (free)
Jewish masters and Christian servants
Katherine Aron-Beller

writer, entitled ‘Moral and Sacred Academic Discourse’ (Discurso Académico Morale y Sagrado), which was divided into six parts, three devoted to the ‘obligation of women to wetnurse their children’, a clear indication that a large proportion of Jewish mothers were not following this practice, which Lieberman interprets as refusal to endure the physical hardships of nursing.61 Tellingly, these sermons make no reference to the employment of Christian wetnurses, even as a prohibited practice. Evidence from processi of the Papal Inquisition confirms that Jews employed

in Jews on trial
Open Access (free)
Verbal offences on the streets of Modena
Katherine Aron-Beller

attempt of the Inquisitor General to extract a confession of blasphemy was foiled. Legal restraints were real and observed by the court, despite a minor irregularity, that of Calbetti ignoring the need for two witness testimonies to ensure Sacerdote’s arrest. Richard Kieckhefer has observed in his study of witchcraft trials that the Papal Inquisition was often used by neighbours, spurned lovers or disgruntled workers to denounce those with whom they had vindictive or petty squabbles.67 There is a background here of some hidden antagonism or deep internal dispute between

in Jews on trial