publisher colophon

INGOLSTADT, BAVARIA

102. Seal of Gutmann

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: document lost.

Bibliography: Hübner, 1803, A. 1322; Friedmann, 1900.

Ingolstadt is a town in upper Bavaria almost directly between Augsburg and Regensburg, about forty miles away from those cities. In 1322 the Jewish community there consisted of thirty persons and came under the jurisdiction of Regensburg. In this year there is a record of a Jewish seal of a man named Gutmann on a document dated April 25. A summary of the document, written in German, states that Gutmann, Jacob Lamp, Höschel Geneul, with all of the Jewish community, men and women, who live or shall come to Ingolstadt, thank the city and pledge their loyalty in return for protection, all confirmed by the seal of Gutmann, who sealed for the entire Jewish community. This intriguing document refers to a previous agreement, not specified, which was apparently some kind of monetary pledge. This no longer exists. A transcript of the April 25 document, naturally without the seal, is filed in the city archives of Ingolstadt, “Ingolstädter Privilegienbuch,” 1493, fol. 34r.

There are several interesting aspects of this document, aside from the unexplained nature of the reciprocal accord. The orthography and grammar of the German scribes of this period were very loose; the separation between words was often created by light strokes above the letters as well as by commas and sometimes was ignored altogether. Very few Ashkenazi Jews at that time possessed two names, the usual exceptions being nicknames, such as “The Scribe” or “The Red,” referring to the person’s trade or some idiosyncracy or personal attribute such as red hair. Modern German translators of these documents, sometimes careless and possibly ignorant of these problems, run together names as though two names belong to one person. In the document, therefore, it is this writer’s opinion that the translation should begin: “We, Gutmann, Jacob, Lamp, Höschel, Geneul, with all of the Jewish community.”

This reading presents some perplexing questions. Gutmann was obviously chosen to seal the document as a pledge of good faith not only because he was one of the few Jews, if not the only one, to own a seal at Ingolstadt but also because he was the richest person there. We note, however, that Lamp (Lamb) and his son Jacob were prosperous Jews living nearby in Augsburg.* If we assume that the references in the document are to these persons, which is highly likely in such small communities, Lamp and Jacob probably had business relations but not residences at Ingolstadt, and thus Gutmann, the richest Jew actually resident there, was asked to seal.

The phrase “with all of the Jewish community” has led some writers, including Zvi Avneri, to conclude that there may once have been a Jewish community seal of Ingolstadt, but there is no evidence for this. As has been noted, it was common practice in the late Middle Ages for the Christian burghers in German cities to pick certain rich Jews as guarantors of a legal transaction, and then to add phrases such as “and all the Jews” or “and all of the Jewish community.”

Since the document at question no longer exists, we do not have any idea what the seal of Gutmann looked like.


*This Genendl mentioned in the 1322 Ingolstadt document cannot be the Gnendel of Regensburg who had a seal, for the other Gnedel only came to Regensburg in 1376. The time span is too great for the parties to be the same person.

*This Genendl mentioned in the 1322 Ingolstadt document cannot be the Gnendel of Regensburg who had a seal, for the other Gnedel only came to Regensburg in 1376. The time span is too great for the parties to be the same person.

This reading presents some perplexing questions. Gutmann was obviously chosen to seal the document as a pledge of good faith not only because he was one of the few Jews, if not the only one, to own a seal at Ingolstadt but also because he was the richest person there. We note, however, that Lamp (Lamb) and his son Jacob were prosperous Jews living nearby in Augsburg.* If we assume that the references in the document are to these persons, which is highly likely in such small communities, Lamp and Jacob probably had business relations but not residences at Ingolstadt, and thus Gutmann, the richest Jew actually resident there, was asked to seal.

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
205-205
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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