Presenter Information

Benjamin Ravid, Brandeis University

Description

In theory, under almost all circumstances, once a Jew had been baptized, s/he became a Christian and any relapse constituted heresy and was liable to severe punishment, often by death. However, in the mid-sixteenth century the Papacy adopted a far more lenient policy out of considerations of commercial raison d' état and invited New Christian merchants to assume Judaism in Ancona with assurance of complete freedom from any persecution. At the same time, Venice expelled all Marranos from the city and forbade them to return. The papal attitude changed with the Counter-Reformation and former New Christians who had reverted to Judaism in Ancona were burned at the stake. However, slightly later in a step that was followed by the Medici for Pisa-Livorno, the Venetian government invited New Christians to settle in Venice freely on the condition that they assumed Judaism and resided in the ghetto as Jews and assured them that their past conduct would not be investigated. In justification, among other arguments the Venetians pointed out that since Popes had once granted such permissions, it could not be claimed that they were forbidden by canon law. An examination of select passages from the documents preserved regarding the issuing of the first charter of the Levantine and Ponentine merchants in Venice in 1589, the two opening passages of the second charter in 1598, and a consulto of the Venetian consultore in iure Paolo Sarpi will illustrate the ideological background and practical manifestations of the new attitude toward New Christians assuming Judaism and their resulting legal status, which can be seen as one of the harbingers of a new attitude of European states toward Jews determined by economic considerations of raison d’état rather than by religious concerns.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

Event Website

http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/emw/emw2008/

Start Date

19-8-2008 11:00 AM

Location

Yeshiva University, New York

 
Aug 19th, 11:00 AM

When the Indelible Sacrament of Baptism Met Mercantile Raison d'Etat

Yeshiva University, New York

In theory, under almost all circumstances, once a Jew had been baptized, s/he became a Christian and any relapse constituted heresy and was liable to severe punishment, often by death. However, in the mid-sixteenth century the Papacy adopted a far more lenient policy out of considerations of commercial raison d' état and invited New Christian merchants to assume Judaism in Ancona with assurance of complete freedom from any persecution. At the same time, Venice expelled all Marranos from the city and forbade them to return. The papal attitude changed with the Counter-Reformation and former New Christians who had reverted to Judaism in Ancona were burned at the stake. However, slightly later in a step that was followed by the Medici for Pisa-Livorno, the Venetian government invited New Christians to settle in Venice freely on the condition that they assumed Judaism and resided in the ghetto as Jews and assured them that their past conduct would not be investigated. In justification, among other arguments the Venetians pointed out that since Popes had once granted such permissions, it could not be claimed that they were forbidden by canon law. An examination of select passages from the documents preserved regarding the issuing of the first charter of the Levantine and Ponentine merchants in Venice in 1589, the two opening passages of the second charter in 1598, and a consulto of the Venetian consultore in iure Paolo Sarpi will illustrate the ideological background and practical manifestations of the new attitude toward New Christians assuming Judaism and their resulting legal status, which can be seen as one of the harbingers of a new attitude of European states toward Jews determined by economic considerations of raison d’état rather than by religious concerns.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

https://fordham.bepress.com/emw/emw2008/emw2008/13