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Questionable Seals and Miscellanea

40. Seal of the Jewish Bailiffs of Orgon

S. UNIVERCITATIS URGONIO

Seal of the City of Orgon

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: unknown.

Bibliography: Longpérier, 1873; Blumenkranz, 1965–66, No. 2, 1 (3); Bedos, 1980b, No. 3 (2).

Adrien de Longpérier mentions a seal found in a town east of Bordeaux showing two oxen passing to the left, a small castle, and above, a star between two large letters B. The legend is circular, preceded by two stars; the letters in style, according to Longpérier, seem to be from Provence and from the fifteenth century.

Adrien de Longpérier speculates that this may be a Jewish seal. He notes that at the beginning of the legend, where Christian seals start with a cross, here are stars. He also points out that the word Univercitatis is written with a c at the fourth syllable, which seems to indicate not the site of Orgon but rather a place within or close by the city. He then alludes to the Comtat Venaissin, the enclave in Provence where the Jewish communities, following old Roman law, still possessed the right to elect their consuls who administered the public funds.* These consuls were called bayles or bayions, probably Provençal for the French word baillis, that is, “bailiffs.” Thereupon Longpérier concludes that the seal was a mark of office of the Jewish bailiffs of Orgon, a small town to the south of Avignon. The double B shown on the seal, he believes, stood for the two bailiffs administering the town finances. Some additional name juggling is involved, but the reasoning is purely speculative.

Longpérier’s series of quasi-logical deductions is viewed by this writer with skepticism. It should be noted that the seal was found at a considerable distance from Avignon. It is of some interest, however, that recently on the hill at Orgon a Roman lamp embellished with two seven-branched designs, obviously menorahs, was discovered. (The lamp is now located in the little Jewish museum set up at Cavaillon.)


*The Comtat Venaissin and the town of Avignon were papal enclaves in which the Jews were still allowed to live after being expelled from the royal domain of France. Comtat is Provençal for the French word comte, the land belonging to a count. The three Jewish communities making up the Comtat Venaissin were Carpentras, Cavaillon, and L’lsle-sur-Sorgue.

*The Comtat Venaissin and the town of Avignon were papal enclaves in which the Jews were still allowed to live after being expelled from the royal domain of France. Comtat is Provençal for the French word comte, the land belonging to a count. The three Jewish communities making up the Comtat Venaissin were Carpentras, Cavaillon, and L’lsle-sur-Sorgue.

Adrien de Longpérier speculates that this may be a Jewish seal. He notes that at the beginning of the legend, where Christian seals start with a cross, here are stars. He also points out that the word Univercitatis is written with a c at the fourth syllable, which seems to indicate not the site of Orgon but rather a place within or close by the city. He then alludes to the Comtat Venaissin, the enclave in Provence where the Jewish communities, following old Roman law, still possessed the right to elect their consuls who administered the public funds.* These consuls were called bayles or bayions, probably Provençal for the French word baillis, that is, “bailiffs.” Thereupon Longpérier concludes that the seal was a mark of office of the Jewish bailiffs of Orgon, a small town to the south of Avignon. The double B shown on the seal, he believes, stood for the two bailiffs administering the town finances. Some additional name juggling is involved, but the reasoning is purely speculative.

Additional Information

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