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133. Seal of Moyszyn [Moses] Son of Meyer

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: unknown.

Bibliography: as above.

The Main State Archives of Düsseldorf holds a document, called Kürkoln No. 339, measuring 23 × 11.5 cm., which is dated December 20, 1337, and refers to affairs at nearby Cologne, originally sealed by two Jews. Both seals have fallen off. Adolf Kober has printed the text from the original Latin hand, with a Hebrew summary of the contents followed by a German summary, the last two having been appended after the Latin by Joseph son of Rabbi Isaac Joselin, the Cologne “Jewish bishop” (Judenmeister). This was a practice of the time. Summarizing Kober’s report, the document reads as follows:

It was sworn before me by Lady Jutta, the widow of the esteemed Rabbi Meir from Syberch [Siegburg], and her son Rabbi Moshe, that all the debts owed by our lord the prince, let him live long, who is called Bishop Valramus [Walram] of Cologne, whose seal imprint is on the document held by Lady Jutta, will be settled by payment of 1500 gold coins [Rhenish florins] and to this the bishop binds himself and pledges his goods. All of this was done in my presence on the second day after the Sabbath, the 27th day of the month of Shvat in the year [5] 098 from the creation of the world, I have written and signed, Joseph bar Yitzhak.

This quittance aids us greatly, for the name of Jutta (sometimes spelled Jutha) appears on other documents and indeed is referred to by other writers who have studied the period, but here the evidence clearly indicates that her husband was Meyer of Siegburg, a well-known Jewish financier of the early fourteenth century, and that her son was Moses, written Moyszyn in the document. The German records group Meyer and Moyszyn as the sealers, evidence which comes from a time when the seals could still be seen. Since Jutta is mentioned in the Hebrew summary of the document as a sealer, we may presume that she used the seal of Meyer, her deceased husband, and that sealing with her, using his own seal, was her son Moses (Moyszyn).

According to Kober (1940, p. 56), this document is the last in a series that emphasizes the helpless position of the Rhineland Jewries in the fourteenth century. The archbishops of Cologne had the Jews under their authority. Both the city of Cologne and Archbishop Walram owed money to Meyer of Siegburg. In 1334 the archbishop concluded a treaty of friendship with the city providing for their cooperation in liquidating debts. The archbishop then proceeded to take action against Meyer and his son Moses in order to appropriate their property. At the archbishop’s request, Meyer was haled before the Jury Court at Bonn and was prompdy condemned to death on charges of helping a counterfeiter escape. Much of his property was seized by the archbishop, who, by the terms of the previous agreement, had promised not to hold the city of Cologne to account for any property of Meyer it took for itself. This document is the last link in the chain whereby Jutta, Meyer’s widow, and her son Moses gave up all remaining claims to the debts due Meyer from the archbishop. Kober concludes: “Although in the end the lawsuit was settled in a legal and friendly spirit, there seems to be no doubt that the condemnation of Meyer and of his son was a case of judicial murder” (p. 56). As Kober points out, this was merely a prelude on a small scale to the coming fate of the Cologne Jewry only twelve years later, when the Black Death struck.

Affirmation of real estate transfer from Düsseldorf October 7, 1513, sealed by Alert. Main State Archives of Düsseldorf.

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