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118. Seal of Aaron the Jew

[    ]HRA[    ] AVT(?)

[S’ A]hra[n] Ivd(?)

Seal of Aaron the Jew(?)

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: Bavarian Main State Archives, Munich, Mainz, Docs. 3852–53.

Bibliography: Stengel, 1930; Otto, 1932–35.

The remains of this seal are in very bad condition. At last report, one could make out a shield which seemed to show winged animals, the only part clearly seen being the front paws. A few letters of the Latin inscription still visible are those indicated above, perhaps standing for the interpretation stated.

Two ecclesiastical documents tell an interesting story. (They come from the Mainz Cathedral Chapter but are deposited at Munich.) Mainz 3852 is a document dated July 1, 1340, sealed by very high Church officials; on its reverse is another document listed as Mainz 3853, dated July 2, 1340, which shows the fragments of Aaron’s seal. The two documents relate to the same set of events and therefore bear linking numbers.

These two documents warrant careful scrutiny. A summary of their contents is found in a documentary registry of the archbishops of Mainz in the fourteenth century, edited by Heinrich Otto. There we read the following, dated July 1, 1340:

Eltville.—Archbishop Heinrich and the Cathedral Chapter of Mainz come with the Jew Aaron son of David to Strassburg [Strasbourg] because of his demands of 1. 7,500 pounds, regarding which Aaron has a letter with the seals of Archbishop Baldwin and the Cathedral Chapter along with those of some monasteries from the cities of Mainz and Speyer and those of some noblemen, knights, and menials; 2. 24,000 pounds, regarding which Aaron also has the letter of the Archbishop, stating that he is supposed to pay Aaron 10,000 pounds and his brother Vogelin 800 pounds. The Jews are to be paid in installments over five years, yearly on St. Michael’s Day 2160 pounds heller, and are charged 26 heller at the customs in Ehrenefels each year.* If the entire 2160 pounds is not paid on St. Michael’s Day, they will be reimbursed in another way. The seals of the Archbishop, Cathedral Deacon Johan, and Provost Johan at Xanten, brother of the Archbishop, are affixed.

(Given at Eltsville, 1340, on the Saturday after St. Peter’s and Paul’s Day.)

On the reverse of the document the following statement appears:

In a declaration on the following day Aaron promises the Strassburg Jews Belen the widow of Bendetz, Heidegen and Vinelin, brothers, sons of Gottlieb, Aran, son of Ysaac, Lea, wife of Viler, Meier, son of Jacob from Molsheim, Suze, the landlady of Lazarus, and Mannekint, her son, that he will negotiate on their behalf because of the debt of the monasteries at Mainz, relating to which they have the letters of Archbishop Baldwin, in order for them to be contented with 10,200 pounds. If he does not succeed, the document cited above will have no validity.

Located at Munich, Main State Archives (Mainz, Cathedral Chapter collection 89 nr. 10). Aaron’s green seal is hung thereto, in bad condition.

This is an interesting example of what might be called a syndicated loan. The brothers Aaron and Vogelin have raised part of the money to make the loans in the Strasbourg Jewish community. They come to a meeting of minds with the Christian borrowers and then immediately reassure their Jewish “limited partners” that their interests will be protected. The amount of money involved is enormous for the time.

One odd aspect of this document is the Hebrew signature. Aaron’s father is David, according to all records, yet Aaron signed, and the following is an exact transcription of the Hebrew: Aharon ben morenu harab rab Azriel Yitzḥak, “Aaron the son of our teacher the Master Rab Azriel Isaac.” The writer has no explanation for this discrepancy.


*The 2,160 pounds heller each year for five years makes up the total of 10,800 pounds promised Aaron and his brother. The charge of 26 heller, which seems a debit to the Jewish account, is not clear: “setzt sie dafuer in 26 Heller am Zoll zu Ehrenfels.” It seems to be a toll or duty for an unexplained reason.

*The 2,160 pounds heller each year for five years makes up the total of 10,800 pounds promised Aaron and his brother. The charge of 26 heller, which seems a debit to the Jewish account, is not clear: “setzt sie dafuer in 26 Heller am Zoll zu Ehrenfels.” It seems to be a toll or duty for an unexplained reason.

Eltville.—Archbishop Heinrich and the Cathedral Chapter of Mainz come with the Jew Aaron son of David to Strassburg [Strasbourg] because of his demands of 1. 7,500 pounds, regarding which Aaron has a letter with the seals of Archbishop Baldwin and the Cathedral Chapter along with those of some monasteries from the cities of Mainz and Speyer and those of some noblemen, knights, and menials; 2. 24,000 pounds, regarding which Aaron also has the letter of the Archbishop, stating that he is supposed to pay Aaron 10,000 pounds and his brother Vogelin 800 pounds. The Jews are to be paid in installments over five years, yearly on St. Michael’s Day 2160 pounds heller, and are charged 26 heller at the customs in Ehrenefels each year.* If the entire 2160 pounds is not paid on St. Michael’s Day, they will be reimbursed in another way. The seals of the Archbishop, Cathedral Deacon Johan, and Provost Johan at Xanten, brother of the Archbishop, are affixed.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
226-227
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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