publisher colophon

119. Seal of Azriel Son of Menachem

Azriel [Ba]r Menachem

Dimensions: approximately 20 mm. Impression.

Location: Strasbourg Municipal Archives, Series III, 174, fol. 35.

Bibliography: Brincken, 1963–64; Raphaël and Weyl, 1980; Bedos, 1980b, 2, 23 (13).

This small damaged seal shows an eagle to the left in the field, the eagle in this case almost surely, as on the Jewish Community seal of Augsburg (see No. 79 and the dish from Lübeck illustrated here), standing for the Holy Roman Empire. The circular Hebrew letters are not clear; Brigitte Bedos and Anna-Dorothee van den Brincken suggest interpretations which this writer believes erroneous. All parties are in agreement, however, that this is a private and not a community seal.

The letter on which this seal was stamped, shown here, is written in German on a small sheet of paper only 3 1/2 × 8 in. over all, which was originally folded (when unfolded the seal was broken). It tells a poignant story. Addressed to the city fathers of Strasbourg, and undated, it is a plea that the Jews be allowed to return to the city.* The Jews point out that their forefathers had lived in Strasbourg for many years and that, despite the recent troubles, the pope and the emperor, as well as the electors (meaning the archbishops of Trier, Mainz, and Cologne), had allowed Jews to return to such cities as Mainz, Worms, Speyer, and elsewhere. We do not know who Azriel son of Menachem was but can guess that he may have been the wealthiest Jew who escaped the massacres.

The Jews’ plea fell on deaf ears. A handful of them was permitted re-entry in 1369 upon payment of extremely high fees, but those few were expelled again in 1388. Strasbourg, which in the thirteenth century had been the richest Jewish community in the Holy Roman Empire, became for all intents and purposes free of Jews until shortly before the French Revolution.

According to Raphaël and Weyl, this letter was probably written in 1369, immediately preceding the temporary re-entry. Based on the equivalence of the names Menachem and Mankint (though in German Mandl is a more proper derivative of Menachem than Mankint), Raphaël and Weyl think it possible that Azriel bar Menachem could have been the son of Rabbi Mankint bar Zerach, who perished in the burnings at Strasbourg with his brother Rabbi Aaron bar Zerach, on February 14, 1349; the two names are cited in contemporary Memorbucher. This statement cannot be proved or disproved.

Appeal of exiled Strasbourg Jews to reenter the city, ca. 1369, sealed by Azriel. Strasbourg Municipal Archives, Series III, 174, fol. 35.

Silver dish with the imperial eagle, the Lübeck coat of arms. SHM no. 137, Kyrkebinge, Sweden. Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet, Stockholm.


*After the massacres and banishment of the Jews during the Black Death, the Strasbourg Council prohibited resettlement of Jews for a hundred years.

*After the massacres and banishment of the Jews during the Black Death, the Strasbourg Council prohibited resettlement of Jews for a hundred years.

The letter on which this seal was stamped, shown here, is written in German on a small sheet of paper only 3 1/2 × 8 in. over all, which was originally folded (when unfolded the seal was broken). It tells a poignant story. Addressed to the city fathers of Strasbourg, and undated, it is a plea that the Jews be allowed to return to the city.* The Jews point out that their forefathers had lived in Strasbourg for many years and that, despite the recent troubles, the pope and the emperor, as well as the electors (meaning the archbishops of Trier, Mainz, and Cologne), had allowed Jews to return to such cities as Mainz, Worms, Speyer, and elsewhere. We do not know who Azriel son of Menachem was but can guess that he may have been the wealthiest Jew who escaped the massacres.

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118. Seal of Aaron the Jew

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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