163. City Seal of Judenburg
Dimensions: 24 mm. Impression.
Location: City of Judenberg.
The city of Judenburg (literally “Stronghold of the Jews”)—called by the Romans Idunum—is one of the oldest settlements in Styria. Though the early records are sparse, it would seem that by the eleventh century Jews controlled commerce, thus giving the twist to the Roman name which led to its German form. Though expelled in a typical blood libel, the Jews were readmitted, and by the early fifteenth century there were reputed to be over twenty Jewish merchants with wealth of at least one hundred thousand gulden. This haven was abolished in 1496, however, by the decree of Emperor Maximilian.
Line drawing of No. 163. Styrian Land Archives, Graz.
Stationery of the Judenburg municipal office.
“Jew’s head groschen,” issued by Friedrich II of Saxony, 1444–31. Illustration from Luschin von Ebengreuth, 1913.
Line drawing of new city seal, 1358. Municipal Office of Judenburg, Austria.
This extraordinary city seal shows the head of a Jew with flowing beard, wearing a Jew’s hat, within an irregular shield. Around, in what seems to be a scroll, whose curled ends are seen at the bottom of the impression, appear the words of the legend. Of course the seal is not a Jewish seal but a city seal which shows a Jew because of the name of the city.
Though the date of the seal is 1488 (the “4” shown as hat. The new seal reflected the technological changes occurring in seal types in the post-medieval period. The Judenberg coat of arms likewise showed a Jew’s head and was only abandoned in 1939, due to pressure from the Hitler takeover. In 1959 the old coat of arms reappeared in a variant form and still graces the city stationery, as shown here. Both seals and the much later coat of arms bear a remarkable resemblance to a “Jew’s head groschen” issued by Friedrich II of Saxony in the fifteenth century.
*There is a note under the 1488 line drawing of this seal made by the Styrian Land Archives at Graz (illustrated above) stating that it was still in use up to June 30, 1566. The writer was told that this seal and the 1528 one were both in use for some time; the older seal was probably used for parchment documents and the later one for paper ones.