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84. Seal of Gaedel Son of Master Petter Halevi

* Gaed[el *] b[ar] Rabbi * Petter * Halevi Nun-Ayin

* Gaed[el] * Son of Master * Petter * Halevi, May His Soul Rest in Eden

Dimensions: 32 mm. Impression.

Location: House, Court and State Archives, Vienna.

Bibliography: Monumenta Boica, 1912, No. 213.

Quittance from Regensburg, December 4, 1302, sealed by Petter son of Moses Halevi and Gaedel son of Petter Halevi. House, Court and State Archives at Vienna.

This seal, slightly smaller than No. 83, shows in the field a shield in which stands a bird with outstretched wings wearing a small Jew’s hat; there is a half-moon to the left and a five-pointed star to the right above the bird. Within the inner line separating the inscription from the shield is a mesh-like pattern also seen somewhat later in Jewish seals from this area. Between double beaded lines is the Hebrew inscription.

This seal is attached to the same document as No. 83. The two Jewish seals are the only ones on this document. No. 84 is the earliest seal which can be dated in the medieval period on which the shield or écu, a symbol of knighthood or elevated rank, appears. The seal of Kalonymos son of Todros of Narbonne in Languedoc and the related but unidentifiable seal of Todros son of Kalonymos (see Nos. 19–20) also show this shield but cannot be precisely dated. This fact in itself tells much about the high position attained by the Jewish bankers of Regensburg by the end of the thirteenth century.

The story of these two seals, still filled with certain ambiguities, circles around three documents, all from the Vienna archives. Their contents are summarized below.

Document of April 18, 1297. Three Jews were involved in a complicated financial transaction. They were Altschim* and Jacob of Regensburg and Samson of Mühldorf. Two very prominent Christians were involved, Duke Otto III of Bavaria and Archbishop Conrad IV of Salzburg, whose seat included the bishopric of Regensburg. The archbishop received 200 lbs. from Samson and a Christian, both from Mühldorf. The archbishop then delivered the money to Altschim and Jacob of Regensburg, to whom it was owed by Count Ulrich von Abensberg as surety for Duke Otto. Obviously there was a monied relation of some kind between the archbishop and duke, implied but not expressly stated, or the transaction would not make sense. (A seal was attached to the document, but it has fallen off.)

Document of May 1, 1297. The same Altschim and Jacob of Regensburg acknowledge receipt of 326 silver Regensburg marks from Duke Otto of Bavaria and Stephen von Gastein, serving to liquidate their obligation to Archbishop Conrad, incurred by a sale of land elsewhere. This three-way transaction would seem to be only a partial satisfaction of the debt because the document stipulates that the receipt of the 326 silver marks was against a debt of 600 silver marks. This quittance and the transaction dated April 18, 1297, may have been parts of a complex deal whereby the Jews financed the sale of land by the archbishop to the duke in a series of maneuvers that liquidated debts all around.

Altschim and Jacob are stated to be the Jewish principals, while Muesche and Itzmann of Regensburg are Jewish witnesses. There are two seals appended. That of Archbishop Conrad has fallen off; the seal of Petter son of Moses Halevi—not mentioned as a principal in the document—remains (see No. 83).

This document reads “sealed with our seal,” as though Altschim and Jacob used the same seal and had a blood relationship recognized by everyone. There has been a good deal of speculation about this document because of its antiquity and the obviously intimate relations of all parties, the Jewish bankers acting as intermediaries between the Bavarian duke and the archbishop of Salzburg, yet no one has penetrated the mystery of the identity of Petter.

Document of December 4, 1302. “Jacob, Gaedel, Fraeudel and other of our friends, the Jews of Regensburg” release Archbishop Conrad from an obligation of 50 lbs. Regensburg deniers which “our friend Hatschim” (Altschim) and Conrad the Younger von Ernfels owed. There are no Jewish witnesses indicated. There are two Jewish seals attached, those of Petter son of Moses Halevi and of Gaedel son of Petter Halevi (Nos. 83–84). It is generally stated that Jacob and “Gaedelein” sealed. Gaedel and Gaedelein, names used interchangeably, are presumed to be the same person. Again we confront the mysterious Petter, though by comparing names of the documents it seems that Jacob is the same person as Petter.

Several conclusions may be drawn from these documents and seals.

First, the confusion as to “Muesche” sealing, mentioned by Zvi Avneri (1968), is probably caused by the fact that Moshe is the only commonly recognized name on the one seal used on both 1297 and 1302 documents, but this name is definitely located in the place where the father’s name appears on Hebrew seals. Avneri, despite his listing the sealer as “Muesche,” notices this. The confusion may have been intensified because one witness to the 1297 document is named Muesche.

Second, as to whether the first name of the person owning the other seal is Jacob or Gaedel, the seal is so damaged at this point that one must reconstruct the letters in one’s imagination. Avneri seems to see “Yaacob,” while this writer sees “Gaed–.” Since Jacob and Gaedel both were principals, one can take one’s choice. Avneri is definitely wrong, however, in stating that Jacob signed the 1297 document, on which there were only two seals, that of the archbishop and that of Petter son of Moses Halevi.

Third, the wording of the documents and the iconography of the seals indicate that the Jewish principals must have been closely related. The two seals both show a moon and star; one shows a Jew’s hat on which a bird sits; the other shows a bird wearing a Jew’s hat. Both sealers were Levites. It would seem at first glance that Gaedel (or Jacob) was the son of Petter, and that between 1297 and 1302 Petter died and Gaedel (or Jacob) adopted the style of his father’s seal. However, the father’s seal was still used on the 1302 document despite the fact that the other seal states that the father of the seal owner had died. It may be that Petter’s seal was required to reinforce the contractual strength of the document if, for example, Petter’s widow still had considerable financial power. We will see an example, that Reynette of Koblenz (No. 116), of a widow using her deceased husband’s seal in financial transactions. Altschim must have also been closely related because he referred in the 1297 document to “our seal” when that of Petter was used.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these very early documents is the extent of intimacy and mutual confidence shown between Christians and Jews. The 1297 document clearly indicates that the Jew Samson of Mühldorf was in partnership with a Christian.* The Jewish bankers were mediators between the duke and the archbishop, probably financing both; even the absence of a confirming Christian seal on the 1302 document tells its own little story. Here—if only for a brief period—are a series of friendly business transactions involving different locations and partial payments, transactions which would be inconceivable in the atmosphere after the period of the Black Death. It is true that the Jew was discarded when he was no longer needed; it is equally true that these earlier relationships must have left an imprint, at least in the minds of the aristocracy of church and state.


*Also called Atschim, Hatschim, and Hayyim haphazardly. Atschim is preferred by Raphael Straus.

Spelled Chunrat in this and the following documents.

*As late as 1402 the city of Regensburg decreed that Christians who invested their capital in Jewish moneylending partnerships were to receive the same treatment as Jews.

Even in that later period, however, there were still exceptions. The delicate web of commercial relations between Christians and Jews continued for almost half a century after the Jews were expelled from Cologne in 1424. According to Adolf Kober in Cologne (1940, p. 110), the City Register of Safe Conducts in 1450 enumerated as one of its powers the “commerce of the citizens and the money of the Jews”; another commercial regulation dated 1469 likewise referred to Jewish money.

*Also called Atschim, Hatschim, and Hayyim haphazardly. Atschim is preferred by Raphael Straus.

Spelled Chunrat in this and the following documents.

*As late as 1402 the city of Regensburg decreed that Christians who invested their capital in Jewish moneylending partnerships were to receive the same treatment as Jews.

Even in that later period, however, there were still exceptions. The delicate web of commercial relations between Christians and Jews continued for almost half a century after the Jews were expelled from Cologne in 1424. According to Adolf Kober in Cologne (1940, p. 110), the City Register of Safe Conducts in 1450 enumerated as one of its powers the “commerce of the citizens and the money of the Jews”; another commercial regulation dated 1469 likewise referred to Jewish money.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
186-188
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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