publisher colophon

The Rhine Flowing North


126. Seal of Byfegin

* [    ] SON OF B[    ]m

Dimensions: approximately 24 mm. Impression.

Location: Main Provincial Archives of Koblenz, 53 C 25.

This seal shows a rearing lion to the left on a shield, with a Jew’s hat above. The Hebrew inscription runs round between two lines, prefaced by a six-pointed star. Most of the letters are destroyed. We know the name of the seal owner from the document to which the impression is attached (shown here). The name of his father cannot be deciphered on the seal. The Jew’s hat above the lion is adroitly designed to resemble a small cardinal’s hat, as shown here, in an example from the same period.

This document is dated December 26, 1397. It is from the rural district of Landskron. Byfegin, Jew of Lahnstein, and his wife, Henlin, state that the knight Hildeger von Langenau and the citizens of Langenau have paid 75 florins on a debt of 150 florins. Byfegin, on behalf of himself and his wife, sealed; at their request, the magistrate of Oberlahnstein also sealed.

Neither the document nor the seal has been hitherto published. It is another example of the retreat of the few German Jews left after the Black Death slaughters to the smaller towns and rural districts in order to survive.

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