publisher colophon

HALBERSTADT, MAGDEBURG DISTRICT

145. Anti-Semitic Seal of Halberstadt Cathedral

[first face]

+ S ALBERTI ThESAVRARII ECCE’ hALB’STADEN

+ Seal of Albert Treasurer of the Church of Halberstadt

[second face]

+ S’ ALBERTI · DECANI · ECCE · hALBERSTADEN

+ Seal of Albert Dean of the Church of Halberstadt

Dimensions: unknown (line drawings vary in size).

Location: State Archives of Magdeburg.

Bibliography: Jewish Encyclopedia, 1907, s.v. “Halberstadt”; Herlitz and Kirschner, 1927–30, s.v. “Halberstadt”; Blumenkranz, 1966.

The churches in the Middle Ages were rife with coarse manifestations of anti-Semitism. A prominent stone sculpture at the cathedral of Regensburg, dating from as early as the thirteenth century, displayed a large sow whose teats are being fondled by a Jew. A fourteenth-century relief in the Cologne Cathedral graphically depicted a Jew sucking from a sow. Equally disgusting images were found elsewhere.

An example of this spirit is No. 145, a double-faced seal used by the Halberstadt Cathedral, whose patron saint is St. Stephen.* From the style of the Gothic letters, the seal most probably comes from the thirteenth century, when the present cathedral was built and Jews first settled in the city. They are first mentioned in a letter of protection dated 1261; one hundred years later the community had an established synagogue and school.

The only available illustrations of this double seal are line drawings from old records whose accuracy is not certain. The two faces are seals made for Albert (probably called Albrecht in German at that time), identified on one face as dean and on the other face as treasurer of the church of Halberstadt. Both faces show St. Stephen stoned by Jews, in one case made obvious by the Jews’ hats the figures wear. Since the Halberstadt Cathedral was an episcopal see, this seal was an institutionalization of anti-Jewish feeling.

This depiction of the stoning of St. Stephen is similar to that shown on the city seal of Metz (No. 48). Also illustrated here is an illuminated page from a medieval Italian manuscript with the same theme, made explicit by the hexagon next to the Jew (see No. 17 for discussion regarding this point). The image of St. Stephen being stoned by Jews was an anti-Semitic theme that embraced all medieval Christianity.

A run of twelfth-century German coins shows the same theme (see the bracteate here), and indeed these are considered the first numismatic depictions of Jews on coinage in Europe. No. 145 almost surely used as its prototype one of these coins issued at Halberstadt. It is also possible that Albert’s choice of this theme had a personal meaning: since Albert was a dean at Halberstadt Cathedral, while St. Stephen was the first deacon of the early Church, Albert may have identified himself not only with the saint’s hatred of his Jewish persecutors but with his ecclesiastical office as well.

Jew stoning St. Stephen, illuminated page, Italy, 15th century. Property of author.

Bracteate of Ulrich I of Halberstadt, 1149–60.

The writer wrote to Halberstadt Cathedral regarding this seal and was told by Cathedral Superintendent Schreiner that on one of the twelfth-century coins showing the stoning of St. Stephen there is also a partial view of the old cathedral, which confirms the relationship between the coins and the church seal. He added that the old documents of the cathedral chapter had been removed to the State Archives in Magdeburg, so that he could not determine whether impressions of the seal still existed.*


*A written inquiry to the State Archives about the matter met with no response.

*A written inquiry to the State Archives about the matter met with no response.

The writer wrote to Halberstadt Cathedral regarding this seal and was told by Cathedral Superintendent Schreiner that on one of the twelfth-century coins showing the stoning of St. Stephen there is also a partial view of the old cathedral, which confirms the relationship between the coins and the church seal. He added that the old documents of the cathedral chapter had been removed to the State Archives in Magdeburg, so that he could not determine whether impressions of the seal still existed.*

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
269-270
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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