publisher colophon

31. Seal of Moiroudi the Jew

+ S. MOIROVDI IVDEI

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: unknown.

Bibliography: Castan, 1869; Gauthier, 1904, 1914; Blumenkranz, 1965–66, No. 2, 24 (7); Bedos, 1980b, No. 2, 24 (7).

These two seal impressions appeared on the same document. Both their descriptions, originally recorded in 1869 by Auguste Castan, a writer not familiar with the form of Jewish legends even when written in Latin, are incorrect. Castan’s article dealt with Besançon, in the old duchy of Burgundy, in eastern France, now the capital of the Department of Doubs. Only incidentally to his main subject, he notes (p. 401):

The Jews themselves used heraldic figures to illustrate their seals. We cite as proof the seals of the Jew Menessier* and Moiroud, of Dôle, which hang from a quittance of September 11, 1276. The first of these small monuments represents a spread eagle, surrounded by this legend: S. MENESIER IVE DE DÔLE; the second, less intact, shows a rampant lion, with the legend + S. MOIROVDI IVDE [i Dolan] I.

This information is repeated almost verbatim in a later study by Léon Gauthier (1904), who adds that the 1276 quittance was formerly in the archives of Doubs but had apparently been misplaced or lost.

We can draw together some additional facts. Other documents from this period quite clearly indicate that “Menesier” (also spelled “Menessier”) was a Jew by the name of Manasseh whose name was rendered on the seal in a form more familiar to the Burgundian officials. Castan’s IVE must be a misread IVD, or Jew.* The image of the spread eagle or aigle éployée, a standard heraldic form, is typical for seals of this period (that of the Jewish community of Augsburg, not far from eastern Burgundy, shows a double-headed eagle) and represents, of course, the influence of the Holy Roman Empire. A Jewish seal from Strasbourg also shows such an eagle for the same reason.

As for Castan’s “Moiroud” or “Moiroudi,” called “Mourot” else-where in his article, this strange word must either be a corruption of a Hebrew name or the owner’s second name for dealing with Christians. Possibly it was originally “Meïr Ivd” or “Meïr Ivdei,” then run together as one word. Castan’s bracketed information, “i Dolan,” probably indicates that Moiroud came from the town of Dôle, his brackets meaning that this phrase was not on the seal.

The lack of Hebrew on these seals may be no accident. Many of the Jews settling in Burgundy were refugees or adventurers from Provence and Languedoc. Conversion was rife among this group, and their Jewish loyalty seems to have been much attenuated. Léon Gauthier remarks that literally dozens of families in Burgundy with the surname Juif had early become Christians, and that the name Juif in Burgundy is a commonly accepted Christian surname.

It is notable that the two areas in France where the Protestant movement made most headway were Languedoc and Burgundy, which were also the two areas where, under direct or indirect pressure, Jewish conversion had been greatest. We know that in the Low Countries under Spanish rule Jews who either had lost their belief in Judaism or were crypto-Christians who remained hostile to Catholicism were in the forefront of the religious revolt against the Church. As Henri Pirenne has remarked, referring to the persecution of the Albigenses in Languedoc, “However, the Catholics did not succeed in killing them all; and as always, persecution, though it killed the body, did not destroy the spirit, and in this respect their doctrine was justified” (1938, p. 297).

Quittance from Burgundy, April 27, 1286, sealed by Beniet of Dôle (reduced in size). Archives of Doubs, Besançon, B 71.


*He should not be confused with Manessier de Vesoul, who negotiated the return of the Jews to France between 1358 and 1361.

*Both Blumenkranz and Brigitte Bedos use, without comment, Ive, which was written Jue, in their catalogues.

This phenomenon was also true for Languedoc; for example, Jean le Juif was royal treasurer at Toulouse, though it is not entirely clear whether or not he was a convert.

*He should not be confused with Manessier de Vesoul, who negotiated the return of the Jews to France between 1358 and 1361.

*Both Blumenkranz and Brigitte Bedos use, without comment, Ive, which was written Jue, in their catalogues.

This phenomenon was also true for Languedoc; for example, Jean le Juif was royal treasurer at Toulouse, though it is not entirely clear whether or not he was a convert.

The Jews themselves used heraldic figures to illustrate their seals. We cite as proof the seals of the Jew Menessier* and Moiroud, of Dôle, which hang from a quittance of September 11, 1276. The first of these small monuments represents a spread eagle, surrounded by this legend: S. MENESIER IVE DE DÔLE; the second, less intact, shows a rampant lion, with the legend + S. MOIROVDI IVDE [i Dolan] I.

We can draw together some additional facts. Other documents from this period quite clearly indicate that “Menesier” (also spelled “Menessier”) was a Jew by the name of Manasseh whose name was rendered on the seal in a form more familiar to the Burgundian officials. Castan’s IVE must be a misread IVD, or Jew.* The image of the spread eagle or aigle éployée, a standard heraldic form, is typical for seals of this period (that of the Jewish community of Augsburg, not far from eastern Burgundy, shows a double-headed eagle) and represents, of course, the influence of the Holy Roman Empire. A Jewish seal from Strasbourg also shows such an eagle for the same reason.

The lack of Hebrew on these seals may be no accident. Many of the Jews settling in Burgundy were refugees or adventurers from Provence and Languedoc. Conversion was rife among this group, and their Jewish loyalty seems to have been much attenuated. Léon Gauthier remarks that literally dozens of families in Burgundy with the surname Juif had early become Christians, and that the name Juif in Burgundy is a commonly accepted Christian surname.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
88-88
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.