publisher colophon

39. Seal of the Jews

+: S’:I:V:D:E:O:R:V:M

Dimensions: 42 mm. Matrix.

Location: French National Library, Paris, Medal Room, No. 1083.

Bibliography: Castaigne, 1863; Gaullieur, 1885; Schlumberger and Blanchet, 1914, No. 683; Blumenkranz, 1965–66, No. 2, 1 (1); Bedos, 1980b, No. 2, 1 (1).

The information on this seal comes from an article written well over a century ago by Eusèbe Castaigne, archivist of Angoulême, a town north of Bordeaux. The bronze matrix was found outside the walls near what had once been the Jewish cemetery. In the field there is a six-pointed star and a thin crescent moon. By style Castaigne placed the seal in the fourteenth century, though Brigitte Bedos puts it in the thirteenth.

Castaigne thought it very likely that this seal was used to register the obligations due to Jews of Angoulême, following an ordinance of King Philip Augustus in this matter. The question was further explored some twenty years later by E. Gaullieur, archivist of the city of Bordeaux. He wrote that the position of the Jews in Guyenne, the old province of France of which Bordeaux was the capital,* was very precarious and that they had been compelled to organize into a sort of corporation under the tide of Communitas Judaeorum Vasconiae or Community of the Jews of Gascogne. There they engaged in moneylending and commerce. Gaullieur regarded the use of the seal as a means to validate Jewish debts with Christians, so the seal may have been employed not only at Angoulême but throughout Guyenne. (The style of the seal, of course, did not have to be the same as that employed at Paris, Pontoise, and Provins.)

There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of this seal; the star and crescent moon in the field are the same symbols as those on many Jewish seals from western and central Europe, and indeed were still in use one hundred fifty years later in Bavaria. Because of these symbols and, possibly, the place where No. 39 was found, Schlumberger and Blanchet regarded this as a Jewish community seal, and Blumenkranz and Bedos agree. This writer, however, believes that because of the historical background summarized above, and because Latin is employed and a large cross shown, this seal was more probably created by Christians to ratify Jewish debts.


*Gascogne and Guyenne, both in ancient Aquitaine, were neighboring provinces with indeterminate frontiers.

*Gascogne and Guyenne, both in ancient Aquitaine, were neighboring provinces with indeterminate frontiers.

Castaigne thought it very likely that this seal was used to register the obligations due to Jews of Angoulême, following an ordinance of King Philip Augustus in this matter. The question was further explored some twenty years later by E. Gaullieur, archivist of the city of Bordeaux. He wrote that the position of the Jews in Guyenne, the old province of France of which Bordeaux was the capital,* was very precarious and that they had been compelled to organize into a sort of corporation under the tide of Communitas Judaeorum Vasconiae or Community of the Jews of Gascogne. There they engaged in moneylending and commerce. Gaullieur regarded the use of the seal as a means to validate Jewish debts with Christians, so the seal may have been employed not only at Angoulême but throughout Guyenne. (The style of the seal, of course, did not have to be the same as that employed at Paris, Pontoise, and Provins.)

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
101-101
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
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.