publisher colophon

36. Counterseal of Debt of the Jews of Paris

RE. V.…ON RE

Dimensions: 22 mm.

Location: see No. 35.†

Bibliography: see No. 35.

Seal No. 35 is loosely defined by the French National Archives as the royal seal for the Jews of Paris. The document to which it is appended, illustrated here, involves the redemption of a pledge of land and improvement. Deodatus, a Jew of Bray (on the Seine), and his brother Elias, or Elie,* had received a security deposit against a loan in the form of the land and farm of Jean de Fontenay at Aubervilliers. On May 20, 1206, a legal release of this security was effected, and the property was turned over to the Abbot of Saint-Victor at Paris. The document has both a seal (No. 35) and counterseal (No. 36).

The green seal impression shows an eagle to the right, in repose but with wings outstretched, with six lilies in the field. The lettering has been partially destroyed by time. The oval counterseal shows an apotheosis (a figure being drawn up to heaven) with Latin letters around it, badly chewed by time. Brigitte Bedos believes the letters may read Rei Vaol Von Re.

As in the Nantes document with the seals of Jacob and Haranc (Nos. 33–34), there is an endorsement of the facts on the reverse in Hebrew. In a box-like rectangle, which seems to show marks of doodling, is written: “We the undersigned recognize and make known in all truth that we hold no claim on that which Jean de Fontaney has sold to the monks of the monastery of Saint-Victor, among all the farms that he owns at Marbivilier [Haubervillier].” The two signatures in Hebrew then follow: Mattathias Son of the Sainted [or martyred] R. Isaac and Eliab Son of the Sainted [or martyred] R. Isaac.

Testimony of the debt of the Jews of Paris, May 20, 1206. French National Archives, Paris, S 2165, No. 4. Photo courtesy of the Service Photographique, French National Archives.

This seal and document must be understood in terms of the precarious position of French Jewry at the time. The Second Crusade was whipping up a frenzy of hatred, and the first blood libel at Blois in 1171 had led to the burning at the stake of thirty-one Jews without a shred of criminal evidence against them. King Philip Augustus, who began his reign in 1180, in 1181 jailed all the wealthy Jews of Paris and the following year expelled them from the royal domain (at the time, however, this was an area limited to the territory centering around Paris and Orléans). Because of financial problems, the king allowed the Jews to return in 1198 but placed their money activities under special controls, imposing heavy taxes. Despite these restrictions, Mattathias and his brother Eliab managed to survive and prosper.* In fact, we know of Mattathias from other records. Somewhat later he bought a large building and land from the Knights Templars, a militant religious order formed during the early period of the Crusades. This land formed the site (or enlarged the original site) of the thirteenth-century Parisian Jewish quarter known as the Juiverie. In view of the long period of expulsion of the Jews from Paris, it is curious that this area, around the Rue des Rosiers in the IV Arrondissement, is still one of the centers of Parisian Jewry.


*Deodatus is the Latin for Dieudonné, which in turn is a French translation of the Hebrew name Mattathias. The name Elias or Elie is a loose translation of the Hebrew name Eliab. The French records after 1222 call Eliab Hélie (Arbois de Jubainville, 1863, Nos. 1452, 1503, 1584).

Presumably, “This thing is shown by that.”

*In this same period the king ordered the burning of all Jews at Bray on another false charge. Since the two brothers came from Bray, the probable reason for the kadosh, or “sainted,” in their signatures when referring to their father is that he was among those Jews burned.

*Deodatus is the Latin for Dieudonné, which in turn is a French translation of the Hebrew name Mattathias. The name Elias or Elie is a loose translation of the Hebrew name Eliab. The French records after 1222 call Eliab Hélie (Arbois de Jubainville, 1863, Nos. 1452, 1503, 1584).

Presumably, “This thing is shown by that.”

*In this same period the king ordered the burning of all Jews at Bray on another false charge. Since the two brothers came from Bray, the probable reason for the kadosh, or “sainted,” in their signatures when referring to their father is that he was among those Jews burned.

Seal No. 35 is loosely defined by the French National Archives as the royal seal for the Jews of Paris. The document to which it is appended, illustrated here, involves the redemption of a pledge of land and improvement. Deodatus, a Jew of Bray (on the Seine), and his brother Elias, or Elie,* had received a security deposit against a loan in the form of the land and farm of Jean de Fontenay at Aubervilliers. On May 20, 1206, a legal release of this security was effected, and the property was turned over to the Abbot of Saint-Victor at Paris. The document has both a seal (No. 35) and counterseal (No. 36).

The green seal impression shows an eagle to the right, in repose but with wings outstretched, with six lilies in the field. The lettering has been partially destroyed by time. The oval counterseal shows an apotheosis (a figure being drawn up to heaven) with Latin letters around it, badly chewed by time. Brigitte Bedos believes the letters may read Rei Vaol Von Re.

This seal and document must be understood in terms of the precarious position of French Jewry at the time. The Second Crusade was whipping up a frenzy of hatred, and the first blood libel at Blois in 1171 had led to the burning at the stake of thirty-one Jews without a shred of criminal evidence against them. King Philip Augustus, who began his reign in 1180, in 1181 jailed all the wealthy Jews of Paris and the following year expelled them from the royal domain (at the time, however, this was an area limited to the territory centering around Paris and Orléans). Because of financial problems, the king allowed the Jews to return in 1198 but placed their money activities under special controls, imposing heavy taxes. Despite these restrictions, Mattathias and his brother Eliab managed to survive and prosper.* In fact, we know of Mattathias from other records. Somewhat later he bought a large building and land from the Knights Templars, a militant religious order formed during the early period of the Crusades. This land formed the site (or enlarged the original site) of the thirteenth-century Parisian Jewish quarter known as the Juiverie. In view of the long period of expulsion of the Jews from Paris, it is curious that this area, around the Rue des Rosiers in the IV Arrondissement, is still one of the centers of Parisian Jewry.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
95-96
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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