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GRAZ, STYRIA

159. Seal of Musch

Dimensions: 20 mm. Impression.

Location: House, Court and State Archives, Vienna.

Bibliography: Rosenberg, 1914.

A copy of a document dated September 21, 1360, in the Styrian State Archives, listed as 2756a, indicates that a Jew named Musch was one of the two sealers. The original of this document, with seals still appended, was recently found in the central archives at Vienna; it had probably been sent to the Austrian capital many years ago, lost, and finally discovered.

The document, shown here, is written in old German. On a separate sheet of parchment there is a Hebrew summary, also illustrated, attached to the main document by the same two parchment strips which fasten the seals to it. One seal belongs to Musch, who declares that he is sealing for his brother, whose name is spelled Chadgim in the German text, because his brother does not have a seal. The other sealer is Friedrich von Walsee, the governor of the province.

The substance of the document, whose Hebrew summary can still be read, is that the Jews Musch and Chatschim (the more common spelling) acknowledge and state that the brothers Ulrich and Germann, counts of Cilli, have paid all monies owed up to the date of signing except for five notes, which are listed, and also excepting certain loan negotiations not yet completed, and that the quittance is being given to the counts for testimony and proof as of that day, which is St. Matthew’s Day [September 21], 1360, written Tuesday the 25th of the month of Elul of the year 120 in the Hebrew summary.§ We know the real names of the Jewish parties because they sign in Hebrew as “Moses and Chaim the brothers, sons of Sabbetai of blessed memory.”

Quittance from Styria, September 21, 1360, sealed by Musch (reduced in size). House, Court and State Archives at Vienna.

Hebrew summary, on separate sheet, attached below Styrian quittance.

The seal of Musch is most extraordinary: the design shows only the branches of a plant, without lettering. Aside from the classic cameo or gem used by Aaron of York in England (No. 5), it is the only Jewish seal known to the writer from so early a period which bears no indication of the name of the owner and which must therefore have had little legal value. Indeed, were it not that the German document specifically states that Musch hung his seal thereto and we knew that the other belonged to Friedrich von Walsee, there would be no way of proving that this seal belonged to Musch.

The brothers Musch (Moshe) and Chatschim (Chaim), sons of Scheblein (Sabbetai) of Cilli, worked together as moneylenders. Forced to flee Styria because of excessive assessments, they settled in Hungary. The records indicate that on February 3, 1367, Duke Albert III empowered two other Jews to collect all their property; at the same time the duke also released a nobleman, Friedrich von Topplach, from his debt to them. A few years later the brothers returned to Styria but apparently started to bicker with each other over business. In 1379, after much dispute, they finally agreed to accept as binding the arbitration of Count Hermann I of Cilli. This would seem to be the same Hermann who was a party to the 1360 document shown here. Musch and Chatschim are sometimes referred to as from Cilli and at other times as from Marburg. There was a third brother, Nachum by name, who settled in Windischgraz and also lent money, occasionally as a partner with his two brothers.

Because of the frequent similarity of names of the Jews in this region at the time, this Musch has been confused with another money-lender of the same name who was a grandson of Isserl or Isserlein, a very prominent banker of the fourteenth century. But we know from Rosenberg (p. 128) that the latter Musch “called himself ‘Musch Isserlein’s grandson’ in order to be distinguished from another moneylender named Musch who was also living in Marburg and for the most part worked together with his brother Chatschim of Cilli.” There is an extensive background of the business of the two brothers from 1353 to 1379, with documents showing loans to some three dozen high dignitaries. As early as 1355 we know of a loan made by them to Bishop Paul von Gurk of 2,613 gulden, a very considerable sum. Indeed, because of the extensive records, it is surprising that more documents sealed by Musch have not been uncovered. Apparently the brothers lived out peaceful lives in relative security after their return from Hungary, which is unusual in this period of the Black Death and its aftermath.


Also Chatschim, Chatshim, Chatsim, and Kadgem in various documents and records.

Cilli (Celje in Slovene) is now a town in Yugoslav Slovenia. It is on an important road leading north to Marburg (now Maribor) on the Austrian frontier and south to Ljubljana. The Hapsburgs were overlords of the region, and on the extinction of the line of the counts of Cilli in 1455, the area came under Austrian control.

§120 plus 1240 = 1360 of the Christian era.

Also Chatschim, Chatshim, Chatsim, and Kadgem in various documents and records.

Cilli (Celje in Slovene) is now a town in Yugoslav Slovenia. It is on an important road leading north to Marburg (now Maribor) on the Austrian frontier and south to Ljubljana. The Hapsburgs were overlords of the region, and on the extinction of the line of the counts of Cilli in 1455, the area came under Austrian control.

§120 plus 1240 = 1360 of the Christian era.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
300-301
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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