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Articles, Reviews, Bibliography and Manuscripts on Sefarad

Editors: Yom Tov Assis and Raquel Ibez-Sperber
Volume 6 5769/2008
Hispania Judaica
The Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Editorial 1
English and Spanish Section
M FUENCISLA GARCA CASAR, Cielos y aguas bblicos a la medida del
hombre medieval y mediterrneo 5
CYRIL ASLANOV, Yosef Caspi entre Provenza y Sefarad 33
DALIA-RUTH HALPERIN, !Mira un poko de maraviyas de el ke no tenesh visto" 43
ELEAZAR GUTWIRTH, The Historian#s Origins and Genealogies: The Sefer
Yuhasin 57
New Christians of Lamego as an Example of Resistance against the
Portuguese Inquisition in Sixteenth Century Portugal 83
ENRIQUE RODRIGUES-MOURA, El abogado y poeta Manoel Botelho de Oliveira
(1636-1711): !infamado de cristo novo" 105
Research Project: The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain and its
Aftermath in the Life of the Refugees and their Children
HANNAH DAVIDSON, Exile, Apostasy and Jewish Women in the Early 16

Century Mediterranean Basin 133
JAMES W. NELSON NOVOA, Documents Regarding the Settlement of
Portuguese New Christians in Tuscany (Part 2) 163
JAMES W. NELSON NOVOA, Documents from the Secret Vatican Archives
Regarding the History of the New Christians in the Low Countries
(1536-1542) 173
ALDINA QUINTANA, From the Master#s Voice to the Disciple#s Script:
Genizah Fragments of a Bible Glossary in Ladino 187
NADIA ZELDES, Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples:
Settlement, Community Formation and Crisis 237
DORA ZSOM, Converts in the Responsa of R. David ibn Avi Zimra:
An Analysis of the Texts 267
Book Reviews 295
Bibliography and Manuscripts 313
Authors Guidelines and Transliteration 359
Contributors 361
Hebrew Section
SHULAMIT ELIZUR, Praise of the Creator in a Seliha of Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Levi
REVITAL YEFFET-REFAEL, !Beware of Hypocrites": Religious Hypocrisy in
Medieval Hebrew Rhymed Prose in Spain
SHALEM YAHALOM, Deorayta and Derabanan: The Standing of the Creative
Personality in Nahmanides" Jurisprudence
YONATAN KEDEM, R. Yosef Albo: A Biographical Study
NITAI SHINAN, On Religious Fanaticism and its Consequences: A Spanish
Liberal Approach of the Expulsion of the Jews
Research Project
The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain and
its Aftermath in the Life of the Refugees
and their Children
[Hispania Judaica 6 5769/2008]
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples:
Settlement, Community Formation and Crisis
Nadia Zeldes

A large number of Sefardi Jews and the majority of Sicilian Jews settled in the
Kingdom of Naples after the 1492 expulsions. The present article attempts to analyze
the process of settlement and the founding of new communities by Sefardi and Sicilian
Jews in the years 1492-1498, using an integrative approach to the various sources
(Hebrew as well as Italian, Latin and Spanish). An attempt is made to understand
the events of 1494-1495 and the disasters that befell the Neapolitan Jewries during
the French invasion. The coming of the French king unleashed a series of riots and
violent acts against the Jews perpetrated by the foreign soldiers as well as the local
Christian population, resulting in mass conversions and ight from the Kingdom
of Naples. The events were given mystical and messianic interpretations by Jews
and Gentiles alike. The present article argues that popular violence was mainly
directed towards the newcomers, principally the Sefardi Jews who are described
in contemporary sources as marrani. The restoration of the Aragonese dynasty in
Naples in 1497 helped the recovery of the Jewish communities.
The article also offers a new interpretation on the role of the Abravanel family
among the Jewish communities of South Italy.
The Kingdom of Naples was both a preferred destination and a land of passage for
the exiles and refugees of the expulsions from the Iberian Peninsula, and Sicily.
Despite the vicissitudes suffered by the Jews in the Kingdom of Naples in the rst
decade after the expulsion, the exiles founded new communities, had spiritual and
political leaders, and also created, copied and printed scholarly works. However,
the history of the immigration and settlement of the exiles in the Kingdom of
Naples has never been the subject of a separate study based on all the available
Nicolo Ferorelli!s Gli ebrei nell!Italia meridionale dall!et romana al secolo
XVIII, published in 1915, was the rst scholarly attempt to produce an amply
documented history of the Jews in the Kingdom of Naples. Since most of it
concentrates on the period of time from the fteenth century until the expulsion
of 1541, it provides important data on the migration and settlement of Spanish*
* I use the designation "Spanish# (spagnoli) when referring to exiles hailing from the
Iberian Peninsula, regardless of their actual origin, as do the Neapolitan documents which
usually do not distinguish between Aragonese, Castilians etc. Chronicles of this period
also use the term marrani which I shall attempt to explain at the appropriate place.
Nadia Zeldes
and Sicilian exiles. Despite antiquated methods and the unavoidable omission
of Hebrew sources, this study remains a keystone for further research into the
subject. Whats more, the destruction of a considerable part of the documents that
were available to Ferorelli at the time renders his book priceless for the modern

A large number of studies on the Jews in the Kingdom of Naples has been
published since, most of them focusing on specic aspects or periods. As it is
impossible to cite them all, I am going to mention only those that are especially
relevant to the subject at hand. The article of Felipe Ruiz Martn, !La expulsin
de los judos del reino de Napoles published in 1949, which despite its title spans
the whole period between 1492 and 1541, represents a different point of view than
Ferorellis as the author relied mainly on Spanish sources. Viviana Bonazzolis
articles !Gli ebrei nel regno di Napoli allepoca della loro espulsione published in
1979 and 1981 cover a long period, from 1456 to 1541. The articles offer an updated
study that takes into account the material that has been discovered and published
since Ferorellis book.
However, despite its reliance on a variety of sources and
publications, Bonazzolis work still omits Hebrew sources. In any case, while it
attempts to provide a comprehensive history of the Jews of Naples in this period,
it does not distinguish between the native population and the new immigrants.
An invaluable contribution are the documents published by Cesare Colafemmina
and others in the periodic Sefer Yuhasin, as well as Colafemminas documentary
collections regarding the various Neapolitan provinces: Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata
Reuven Bonl discussed the fate of the Iberian exiles in Italy, including the
south, in his !Italia: un triste eplogo de la expulsin de los judos de Espaa.
this article he argued against some of Ferorellis conclusions, such as the unlikely
number of exiles (100,000) that reached the Kingdom of Naples. According to
Bonls calculations the number of exiles (mainly those hailing from the lands of
1 Ferorellis original work is now updated in a new edition: N. Ferorelli, Gli ebrei nell!Italia
meridionale, Filena Patroni Grif and D. Peerson eds., Napoli 1990. Although this
edition does not change Ferorellis original text, it includes bibliographical references
to relevant modern studies. All references below are to the 1990 edition.
2 F. Ruiz Martn, !La expulsin de los judos del reino de Npoles, Hispania 9 (1949),
pp. 28-240; V. Bonazzoli, !Gli ebrei del regno di Napoli allepoca della loro espulsione,
Archivio Storico Italiano, 137 (1979), pp. 495-599; 139 (1981), pp. 179-287
3 C. Colafemmina, Per la storia degli ebrei in Calabria: Saggi e documenti, Soveria
Mannelli 1996 (Hereafter: Colafemmina, Calabria); Idem, Documenti per la
storia degli ebrei in Puglia nell!archivio di stato di Napoli, Bari 1990 (Hereafter,
Colafemmina, Puglia).
4 R. Bonl, !Italia: un triste eplogo de la expulsin de los judos de Espaa, Judos.
Sefarditas. Conversos: La expulsin de 1492 y sus consecuencias. Ponencias del
Congreso Internacional celebrado en Nueva York en noviembre de 1992, A. Alcal
ed., Valladolid 1995, pp. 148-249.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
the Crown of Aragon), was only between 10,000 and 15,000. Nevertheless, still a
considerable number! As for the Jews of Sicily, Bonl suggested that the majority
converted and did not leave the island at all. It was a reasonable assumption at the
time, but now, given the wealth of documentary material discovered since, it is
almost certain that the majority of Sicilian Jews indeed came to the Kingdom
of Naples. Only later some of them converted and returned to Sicily.
As for the
rest of Italy, Bonl drew attention to the demographic crisis precipitated by the
arrival of such large numbers of Jews, an aspect that was previously given little
importance. In the same vein Michele Luzzati discussed the reasons that prevented
the integration of the exiles into the existing Italian Jewish communities, arguing
that the delicate balance between Jewish presence and political exigencies of the
Italian city states could be have been endangered by an inux of new immigrants.

Finally, the articles of David Abulaa provide new insights on the history of the
Jews under the Aragonese kings of Naples and their continuing presence under
Spanish rule.

But the actual process of immigration, settlement and community foundation
was never given its due consideration, and neither were the events of the catastrophic
year of 1494-1495 and their consequences for the exiles. The present article
proposes to focus on the fate of the Spanish and Sicilian Jews in the Kingdom of
Naples in this period.
Arrival and Settlement
In his now classical biography of Don Yitshaq Abravanel, Netanyahu drew a
moving picture of the exiles sailing from port to port, in vain seeking a safe haven,
unsure whether they would be allowed to stay anywhere in Italy, until "it was
with trembling hearts that this hapless human cargo surveyed the majestic Bay of
Naples! would the Neapolitan government give them asylum?#
5 On the return of the converts to Sicily. see: N. Zeldes, The Former Jews of this
Kingdom: Sicilian Converts after the Expulsion (1492-1516), Leiden 2003.
6 M. Luzzati, $La marcha hacia la Italia de las ciudades y de los prncipes%, Los caminos
del exilio. Encuentros Judaicos de Tudela, Juan Carrasco et al. eds., Pamplona 1996,
pp. 159-179.
7 D. Abulaa, $The Aragonese Kings of Naples and the Jews%, The Jews of Italy: Memory
and Identity. Studies and Texts in Jewish History and Culture, B.D. Cooperman and B.
Garvin eds., University of Maryland 2000, pp. 82-106; Idem, $Insediamenti, diaspora e
tradizione ebraica: gli ebrei del regno di Napoli da Ferdinando il Cattolico a Carlo V%,
Archivio storico per le Province napoletane, 119 (2001), pp. 171-200.
8 B.Z. Netanyahu, Don Isaac Abravanel: Statesman and Philosopher, Ithaca and London,
edition, 1998, p. 63. The author relied on Abravanel%s own words describing his
Nadia Zeldes
far from sailing towards an unknown fate, the exiles usually specied their
desired destination before leaving the port of exit, and it was usually noted in the
embarkation contracts signed before the local notaries.
Studies by Hayim Beinart, Miguel ngel Motis Dolader, Jos Hinojosa
Montalvo and others, identify the ports of exit from the Iberian Peninsula and
the destinations of various groups of exiles. According to the ndings of Motis
Dolader, the rst sailing contracts from the realms of Aragon had already been
signed in June 1492, two months before the rst arrivals in the Kingdom of
Jewish families from Aranda de Moncayo, Saragossa, pila, Daroca,
Morvedre, Xtiva, Ariza, Belchite, Albarracin, Teruel, Calatayud, Fuentes de Ebro
and Illueca sailed from Sagunto (Morvedre) in the Kingdom of Valencia. Beinart
named additional Jewish communities who departed from this port: Castello de
la Plana, Sesma and Xrica. Other communities from Alagn, Almonacid de
la Sierra, Ejea de los Caballeros, Huesa del Comn, Huesca, Monzn, Quinto
de Ebro, Pina de Ebro and Tamarite de Litera departed through the ports of
Tortosa-Ampolla and Tarragona.
Another port of embarkation was Port dels
voyage to Naples as !seeking his way as a ship at sea" (Abravanel, #Introduction to
Kings$, Commentary on the Former Prophets, Jerusalem 1955, p. 422), but this should
be understood as a literary metaphor instead of historical fact. The Abravanels knew
well in advance that they were going to Naples, see below.
9 A Neapolitan chronicle named the year 1492 as the !year of the foreigners" and noted
that in August 1492 !the ships began to arrive lled with Jews coming from Sicily
and Spain, expelled by the Lord King of Spain" (Al 1492 de lo mese di augusto
incominciaro a venire in Napoli le navi cariche de Judei, quali venevano da Sicilia, et
da Spagna scacciati per lo signore re di Spagna don Ferrante d$Aragona re di Spagna,
et d$Aragona), Giuliano Passero, Cittadino Napoletano o sia Prima pubblicazione in
istampa, che delle Storie in forma di Giornali, le quali sotto nome di questo Autore
nora erano andate manoscritte, Michele Maria Vecchioni ed., Napoli 1785, p. 56,
also cited by F. Ruiz Martn, #La expulsin$, p. 31. Another Neapolitan chronicle gives
an exact date for the arrival of the exiles and mentions their land of origin: !And on
the August 18, 1492 the Jews who were hailing from all the Spanish nations came to
Naples; they came on various vessels; they had been chased by the most illustrious
king of Spain who was ridding himself of all those who were expelled by force from
his land, and they had also been expelled from France and the island of Sicily. And
all of them were gathered in Naples" (E li XVIII de agusto 1492 in la cit di Napole
intraro li Iudie, che venevano da tutta la lengua de Spagna; lo quale venevano con nave
caravelle et barcie; lo quale le aveva caciate lo illustrissimo sig. Re de Spagna, che
se liberao de caciarelle tutte da suo paiese, et perc foo cacite (sic.) da la Francza et
dall$Isola de Cicilia; lo quale tutte se arredussino in Napole), Una cronaca napoletana
gurata de Quattrocento, edita e comentata da R. Filangieri, Napoli 1956, p. 80.
10 H. Beinart, The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, (trans. J.M. Green), Oxford, Portland
Oregon 2002, pp. 223- 290; M.A. Motis Dolader, La expulsin de los judos del reino
de Aragn, Zaragoza 1990, II, pp. 215-300; J. Hinojosa Montalvo, The Jews of the
Kingdom of Valencia: From Persecution to Expulsion, Jerusalem 1993, pp. 286-299.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
Beinart mentioned Barcelona as another possible point of departure.

A number of Aragonese and Catalan Jews left the ports of Catalonia for Italy and
Germany, while Valencian Jews headed to Tunis, Fez and Tlemcen.
most Jews from the lands of the Crown of Aragon migrated to Italy and the Levant,
and only a relatively small number to Barbary, that is, the eastern North African
coast. Castilian Jews who did not take the land route to Portugal, sailed to the
western North African coast, or to Italy and the Kingdom of Naples.
The routes
and destinations of the Sicilian exiles have not been as yet subject to systematic
study, but as far as the material at hand permits, we can conclude that immediately
after the expulsion the majority went to the Kingdom of Naples.
As this paper
intends to focus on the Kingdom of Naples, other destinations will be discussed
only briey.
Several embarkation contracts made in the Spanish ports name the Kingdom
of Naples as the intended destination of the departing Jews.
The Abravanel
family arranged for their goods to be transported from Valencia to Naples, well in
11 G. Secall Gell, !Noticias de judos aragoneses en el momento de la Expulsin",
Sefarad 42 (1982), p. 108, no. 16.
12 Beinart, Expulsion, p. 239.
13 According to the account of Andrs Bernldez, many of those who departed from
Aragon and Catalonia by way of the Aragonese ports went to Italy, Tunisia and
Tlemcen: Memorias del reinado de los reyes catlicos, Manuel Gomez Moreno and
Juan de M. Carriazo eds., Madrid 1962, chap. CXI, pp. 256-257. See also J. Caro
Baroja, Los judos en la Espaa moderna y contempornea, Madrid 1978, I, p. 199.
14 Beinart, Expulsion, pp. 238-244, 274-279; Motis Dolader, La expulsin, II, pp. 215-300;
documents concerning embarkation from Valencian ports: Hinojosa Montalvo, The
Jews of the Kingdom of Valencia, Nos. 840, 844, 846, 849, 850, 872, 873.
15 Most evidence for the presence of Sicilian Jews in the Levant comes from the second
half of the sixteenth century, that is, after the expulsions from the Kingdom of Naples.
See: Giuseppe Palermo, The Passage of Sicilian Jews to the Eastern Mediterranean
after the Expulsion, M.A. thesis, The Hebrew University, 1993(Hebrew); N. Zeldes,
!Diffusion of Sicilian Exiles and their Culture as Reected in Hebrew Colophons",
Hispania Judaica Bulletin 5 (2007), pp. 302-332. For an overview of the spread of
the Sicilian diaspora, based mainly on rabbinic responsa, see: S. Schwartzfuchs, !The
Sicilian Jewish Communities in the Ottoman Empire", Italia Judaica V, Atti del V
convegno internazionale, Palermo, 15-19 giugno 1992, Roma 1995, pp. 397-41. More
recently, Nicol Bucaria argued that most Sicilian Jews preferred the Kingdom of
Naples for several reasons: the language, culture and political situation were similar
to what they they already knew; they hoped that the expulsion edict would be revoked
so they wished to remain in close proximity to Sicily; the alternatives, Tunisia for
example, were not all that attractive; Jews migrated from that land to Sicily only a year
before the expulsion: N. Bucaria and Paola Scibilia, !Nuovi documenti sull"espulsione
degli ebrei dalla Sicilia", Italia 17 (2006), pp. 93-125.
16 See note 14 above.
Nadia Zeldes
advance of their departure.
A contract made in Trapani, Sicily, in August 1492,
also specied Naples as their port of destination.

Were the Jews simply hoping to be allowed to land in Naples and other ports of
the kingdom, uncertain of their welcome? Or was there a prior arrangement with
King Ferrante I? According to the chronicle of Elyiahu Capsali, Seder Elyiahu Zuta,
!before the arrival of the ships the Jews sent a messenger to plead with the king
to let them come. At that time, the king who ruled Naples was a wise and mighty
Unfortunately, no document conrming such an arrangement survived,
and yet there are several that attest to the king$s goodwill towards the immigrants.
For example, Ferorelli cited a privilege of King Ferrante promising foreign Jews
who came from outside the realm (extra regnum) the same rights enjoyed by the
old Jewish population, namely that they would be !held and known as his subjects
and vassals as if they were born in the Regnum#.
An order issued by the Camera
Sommaria of Naples, dated on June 27, 1492, that is shortly after the publication
of the expulsion edict in Sicily on June 18, recommended the postponement of the
punishment of a local Jew in order not frighten the Sicilian Jews who intended to
migrate to the Kingdom of Naples: !Sir, a while ago, we wrote asking you to beat
or give four strappados to the Jew that you denounced for criticising the Christian
faith. With this we order you to postpone the punishment until you are ordered to
do differently. You know, in fact, that many Jews are coming from Sicily to the
province of Calabria and could be frightened away by such punishment#.

The reasons for King Ferrante$s welcome have rarely been convincingly
explained. Jewish chronicles of the period depict him as one of the !righteous
among the nations#, an explanation accepted by some modern researchers.

17 Hinojosa Montalvo, The Jews of the Kingdom of Valencia, no. 873, p. 697, and compare
with Netanyahu, Abravanel, p. 63.
18 The embarkation contract was discovered and cited by Angela Scandaliato: %Momenti
di vita a Trapani nel Quattrocento$, Gli ebrei in Sicilia dal tardoantico al medioevo,
Studi in onore di Monsignor Benedetto Rocco, N. Bucaria ed., Palermo 1998, pp.
19 w :e: :v |:u nn s .c:a: |:un :e: ,:rnn: r:w c+nn r:w n:eun :5 v: cu
...a: c5r Eliyahu Capsali, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, A. Shmuelevitch, S. Simonsohn, M.
Benayahu eds., Institute Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv 1975, I, p. 212.
20 Archivio di Stato di Napoli (hereafter ASN) Sommaria, Com. 35 f. 106; ASN Sommaria
Partium 35, f. 116; ASN Sommaria Partium 36, f. 127, cited by N. Ferorelli, Gli ebrei,
pp. 93-94, note 59. These documents had been lost since.
21 ASN Sommaria, Partium 36, 15v, cited by C. Colafemmina, %The Jews of Reggio
Calabria from the End of the XVth Century to the Beginning of the XVIth Century$,
Les Juifs au regard de l!histoire: Mlanges en l!honneur de Bernhard Blumenkranz, G.
Dahan ed., Paris 1985, p. 258.
22 Y.H. Yerushalmi, %The Lisbon Massacre of 1506 and the Royal Image in the !Shebet
Yehudah#$, Hebrew Union College Annual Supplement 1 (1976). However, whereas
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
Another explanation, offered by Giuseppe Petralia, is that the Jews were a nancial
asset for King Ferrante and the offer of protection and privileges should only be
considered within the traditional approach of the rulers who accepted the presence
of Jews as !servi camerae".
But while this may have been true for the older
Jewish communities of the kingdom, it would have been hardly likely for the
impoverished exiles to have been sought by the king as a source of income. A
better explanation, in my view, is that Ferrante hoped to strengthen the kingdom#s
economy by encouraging the coming of skilled Jewish artisans and merchants.
Such considerations might explain the king#s orders to register the skills and
professions of all newcomers (see below). Such concerns were not unknown in
this period. The prospective loss of skilled Jewish artisans appears among the
clauses of the memorandum composed by the Sicilian high ofcials protesting
against the expulsion of the Jews.
But there is another aspect to be taken into
account. David Abulaa rightly remarked that it is unlikely that King Ferrante
could have acted without the full knowledge and agreement of Pope Alexander VI,
much less contrary to his wishes. The kings of Naples were vassals of the pope,
their lands bordered on those of the Holy See, and the Aragonese dynasty needed
the pope#s political support to protect its interests. Moreover, it can be argued
that the king simply followed the traditional papal policy that protected the Jews
and allowed them a place in Christian society. In a way Ferrante emulated Pope
Ibn Verga projects a generalized image of the !just king", Capsali#s Seder Eliyahu
Zuta (see note 19 above) specically describes Ferrante I as righteous and full of
compassion towards the Jews. Interestingly, David Abulaa tends to accept this view:
Abulaa, $The Aragonese Kings of Naples#, p. 94.
23 G. Petralia, $L#epoca aragonese#, L!ebraismo dell!Italia meridionale dalle origini al
1541 C. Damiano Fonseca, M. Luzzatti, G. Tamani, C. Colafemmina eds., Potenza
1996, pp. 79-114. The term !servi camerae regis", that appears in various royal
privileges from the twelfth century onwards, is not easy to translate or dene, but it
was clearly used to indicate a special relationship between the king and !his Jews". The
Jews were considered his property, under his protection, and subject to special taxes.
See: G. Langmuir, $Tanquam Servi: The Change in Jewish Status in French Law About
1200#, Les Juifs dans l!histoire de France, M. Yardeni ed., Leiden 1980, pp. 24-54;
S. Simonsohn, The Apostolic See and the Jews, Toronto 1991, Vol. I, pp. 94-104; see
also: K. Stow, $Servi camerae nostrae#, Dictionary of the Middle Ages, J.R. Strayer
ed., New-York 1982-1989 (but this denition does not sit well with the status of the
Jews in the Mediterranean lands); For aspects particular to the Mediterranean Lands
see D. Abulaa, $The servitude of Jews and Muslims in the Medieval Mediterranean#,
Mlanges de l!cole franaise de Rome, 112, 2 (2000), pp. 687-714; I. Shoval, $ !Servi
Regis" Re-Examined: On the Signicance of the Earliest Appearance of the Term in
Aragon, 1176#, Hispania Judaica Bulletin 4 (2004), pp. 22-69.
24 The Sicilian memorandum against the expulsion of the Jews: S. Simonsohn, The Jews
in Sicily, Brill. Leiden 2006, 8, no. 5497, pp. 4739-4744.
Nadia Zeldes
Alexander VI who gave the exiles permission to settle in Rome, in spite of the
protests of the Spanish ambassador.

The refugees were not simply welcomed by King Ferrante to fare as they will
in his kingdom; instead, a bureaucratic machine was put in motion to receive them.
Port authorities were instructed to register all newcomers, their lands of origin, the
ship they came in, their skills, number of children (males and females) and other
details. After registering, they were allowed to choose any city, land or place or
go from one place to another within the kingdom.
This procedure seems to be
conrmed by the terms of embarkation contracts that allow for a few days! stay at
the port of arrival before proceeding to other destinations. One is a contract signed
in August 1492 in Trapani between the ship!s captain, Jaymus Guell, a citizen of
the city of Naples, and nine Jews of that city. These Jews acted as representatives
for a group numbering over 250 adults and an unspecied number of children.
The captain agreed to take the nine signatories and their families on board of his
vessel, as well as other persons they would later decide to take along, food and
cargo. The signatories promised to pay two hundred and twenty ve orins for the
passage of the adults and a lesser amount for minor children (the captain exceeded
no additional payment for unborn babies.). The captain also agreed to bring the
group to the city of Naples, allowing for the possibility that they would continue
their voyage to another destination:
at the request of the said Jews, he (the ship master) must sail and betake
himself to the city of Naples and there, within six days, the said Jews would
have to disembark and unload their goods from the said caravelle. And if,
within three days that begin on the day of the arrival of these Jews, they
would notify the said ship master that they want to go to another place in the
kingdom of the most serene King Ferrante of Naples, the shipmaster would
have to sail and bring anyone [of those Jews] that wishes to go to that place
of King Ferrante of Naples.

25 Abulaa, "The Aragonese Kings of Naples!, p. 95. On Pope Alexander!s policies
towards Spanish Jews and conversos of 1492, see: A. Toaff, "Alessandro VI,
Inquisizione, ebrei e marrani. Un pontece a Roma dinanzi all!espulsione del 1492!,
L!identit dissimulata: Giudaizzanti iberici nell!Europa cristiana dell!et moderna,
Pier Cesare Ioly Zorattini, Leo S. Olshki eds., Firenze 2000, p. 19.
26 ASN Camera Sommaria Partium, 35, f. 116, cited by Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 94, note 60
and ASN Camera Sommaria Com. 35, ff. 31 t and 106 t, also cited by Ferorelli, Ibidem,
note 61.
27 ad stipulacionem requisitionem dictorum iudeorum debet velicare et se conferre in
civitate Neapolis, et ibi infra dies sex dicti judei debent descendere et exonerare dictam
caravellam, et si infra dies tres mandatos a die que applicabunt, dicti judei declarabunt
dicto patrono velle ire in aliquo alio loco di regno (regis) serenissimi regis Ferdinandi
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
Thus, the captain promised that the caravelle would rst stop in Naples and
allow its passengers to disembark and unload their goods, although some of them
intended to continue to a different place. A few days in the port of Naples were
probably necessary for registering the passengers and their cargo. A contract made
in Valencia in June 1492 also stipulates that the ships would remain for eight days
in the port of Naples.
This was probably the usual procedure followed by all
the exiles who chose either Naples or other Neapolitan ports as their destination.
Ferorelli listed the main ports of disembarkation: Gaeta, Pozzuoli, Castellamare di
Stabia, Naples, Salerno and Reggio.
Obviously, these cities could not have been
the nal destination for such multitudes and the immigrants later had to settle in
other places.

Sicilian Jews faced only a short voyage to Naples so most of them probably
suffered less than the Iberian exiles, though several groups of Sicilians too had
been robbed by sea captains and left on the shore totally destitute.
and eyewiteness! reports comment on the pitiful state of many of the exiles on
their arrival.
Antonio Stanga, ambassador of Milan, wrote from Naples at the
de Neapoli quo unumquisque dictus patronus teneatur velicare et apportare quomodo
judei ire voluerunt in loco dicto regis Ferdinandi di Neapoli", Archivio di Stato di
Trapani, Notaio Andrea Sesta, reg. 8830 c 614-614v. The embarkation contract is cited
by Angela Scandaliato: #Momenti di vita a Trapani nel Quattrocento! (see note 18
above) but the manuscript was never published in its entirety. Note: I have marked in
italics words whose reading is uncertain.
28 $E les dites naus sien tengudes estar ahi per temps de huyt dies", ARV, Protocols no.
2.009, fols. 299r-304r and 331r-332r, Hinojosa Motalvo, The Jews in the Kingdom of
Valencia, no. 846, p. 684.
29 Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 95. Unfortunately, the lists made by port ofcials do not exist
30 When a ship full of Sicilian Jews landed in Gaeta, the authorities decreed that the
city could not be overrun with such a multitude, therefore $no one would be allowed
to settle there without a special licence from His Majesty", Cancelleria Aragonese,
Partium 6, fol. 194 t, cited by Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 95, note 65. The city of Pozzuoli
also demanded that the immigrants settle elsewhere, Ferorelli, Ibidem More on this
topic, see below.
31 The tragic fate of Iberian Jews is related in Hebrew chronicles and personal accounts
of refugees. See Shelomo Ibn Verga, Shevet Yehudah, A. Shohat ed., Jerusalem
1947; Judah Hayat, Minhat Yehudah. Perush le-sefer ma!arekhet ha-Elohut, Mantua
1558, The Introduction. A group of Sicilian Jews was robbed on their way to Valona:
ACA Cancelleria Diversorum Camere Reginalis reg. 3687 c 133v-134r, A. de La
Torre, Documentos sobre relaciones internacionales de los Reyes Catlicos, Madrid
1949-1966, IV, no. 32, p. 417 (partially); N. Zeldes, #The Queen!s Property: Isabel I
and the Jews and Converts of the Sicilian Camera Reginale after 1492 Expulsion!,
Hispania Judaica Bulletin 4 (2004), Appendix, Doc. I, p. 81.
32 An anonymous Hebrew chronicle gives an interesting account on the arrival of the
exiles and is one of the few sources that mention the coming of the Sicilian Jews:
Nadia Zeldes
beginning of 1493 about the terrible pestilence brought by the Jews most of whom
are poor, reduced to beggary and smelly, and as a consequence they are in such a
state and numbers [that they are] capable of infecting not only a city, but an entire
large province.
One Neapolitan chronicle claimed it caused the death of 20,000
people, and another, by Tommaso da Catania, gave an even higher estimate: thirty
thousand Christians and twenty thousand Jews among those who came that year,
and they were the cause of this death.
Capsalis chronicle recorded the same
events but praised the king for allowing the Jews to bury their dead in the darkest
night in order to conceal the deaths from the general population. Incidentally,
Capsalis estimate for the total number of the dead is fty thousand, the same as
that of Tommaso da Catania.
Whatever the actual number of the dead, the coming
of the Jews was thus associated with the spread of disease, and that probably added
to the resentment of the local population towards the newcomers, a resentment that
played an impotrant role in the events of 1494-1495.
The detailed embarkation contracts, the preparations and the meticulous
bureaucracy of departure and arrival demolish the somewhat romantic picture
offered by contemporary chronicles as well as modern scholars, but it does not
detract from the fact that the Kingdom of Naples was indeed a haven for the
Many ships carrying Jews, especially from Sicily, went to the city of Naples on the
coast. And this was a king that loved the Jews and received them all and showed them
mercy and gave them money. The Jews of Naples supplied them with food as much
as they could, and they sent to other states of Italy to collect money to sustain them.
The Jews that converted to Christianity, who were living in the city, lent them money
on pledges without interest, and even the friars of St. Dominic gave them charity,
A. Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore, New York 1944, pp. 86-87. My
translation is slightly different from Marxs.
33 The text is cited by Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, pp. 97-98.
34 Twenty thousand dead: Una cronaca napoletana, pp. 80-81; according to another source
there were thirty thousand dead among the Christians and twenty ve thousand among
the immigrant Jews: nella quale moria se annumerano esservi morti delle persone
trenta milia christiani, et venticinque milia judei di quilli, che erano venuti in questo
regno, et questi foro causa di detta moria, Passero, Giornali, p. 56; and Tommaso
da Catania: di gennaro icomens la moria in Napoli, et nio il mese de Settembre
de lo anno 1493, dove nge morsero da trenta milla cristiani et viginta milla judei
che vennero in quillo anno, et epsi foro causa de detta moria, Tommaso de Catania,
!Chroniche antiquissime dallanno DCCCCLXXXVI no al MDLII, in Raccolta di
varie croniche, diarii et altri opusculi cosi italiani come latini appartenenti alla storia
del Regno di Napoli, Napoli 1780, I, p. 38.
35 Seder Eliyahu Zuta, I, pp. 212-213.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
Community and Leadership
The contracts discussed above show that most groups who embarked from Spanish
and Sicilian ports were organized according to city or land of origin. Some groups,
especially the Sicilians, maintained their identity as a separate community in their
new land. It is less clear whether the Aragonese, Catalan and Castilian Jews were
able to retain their particular identity. Sometimes certain individuals are described
as Catalano, Aragonese, Spagnolo, etc., and occasionally their city of origin is still
mentioned. For example, in 1494 the authorities refer to the petition of the brothers
Salamonello and Manuele Catalano of Reggio Calabria, formerly of Saragossa.

But most ofcal documents distinguish only between Spanish Jews and Sicilians,
and in the rst decade after the expulsion they are never confused with the local
Jews. Moreover, each group had their separate communal organization and sepa-
rate leadership.
A Sicilian community was established in Reggio Calabria almost immediately
after the expulsion. In September 1493, Sicilian Jews wishing to pursue their
trade as shermen, petitioned the Sommaria to release their nets and lead weights
that had been conscated because of the general prohibition to import lead
into the kingdom. The Sicilians claimed that they had not intended to trade in
these implements (which was forbidden by law), instead, they already had the
king!s permission to bring them as tools of their trade. As in other petitions to
the Sommaria, the shermen acted in concert, identifying themselves as Sicilian
Incidentally, the shermen!s complaint strengthens the assumption that
Ferrante was favorable to the immigration of skilled exiles into his kingdom.
The Sicilian Jews of Reggio formed a separate community and are addressed as
Iodeca deli siciliani, distinct from the local Jews.
Other Sicilian communities
were formed in this period. A petition from January 1494 is described as being
"on the part of the nation of Sicilian Jews living in San Lucido# (per parte della
nacione de Siciliani hebrei habitanti in Sancto Lucido).
And in November 1494
the Sommaria granted a plea of the Sicilian Jews of Pozzuoli addressing the letter
to the leaders of the Sicilian Jews (pro protis Hebreorum Siculorum) in that city.

Many of the complaints concerning the tax burden shed light on the
economic activities and the dynamics of leadership among the exiles in their new
environment. An order issued by the Sommaria in 1496 reveals that Yosef Rizzo,
36 ASN Sommaria, Partium 40, 158, Colafemmina, $Documenti per la storia degli ebrei
in Calabria!, Sefer Yuhasin (hereafter SY), I (1985), p. 12.
37 ASN Sommaria, Partium, 40, 158v, Colafemmina, Calabria, no. 32, p. 125.
38 ASN Sommaria, Partium 39, f. 12r: Ibidem, no. 55, pp. 140-141.
39 ASN Sommaria, Partium 37, 282r: $Documenti... Calabria!, SY, I (1985), p. 11.
40 ASN Sommaria, Partium, 41, 125r-v, C. Colafemmina, $Documenti per la storia degli
ebrei a Napoli e in Campania nei secoli XV-XVI!, SY, XII (1996), p. 24.
Nadia Zeldes
a Sicilian Jew, was elected leader (proto) of the Sicilian Jews living in the city of
Capua. Rizzo!s leadership was contested by one David Pinas, who, according to a
petition to the Sommaria, was intervening too much in the affairs of the giudecca.

Thus, it appears that the Sicilian exiles held elections and recreated community
organization (including the quarrels) in the Kingdom of Naples on the same lines
as in Sicily.
The leaders of the Sicilian community of Pozzuoli complained in
1494 that a Sicilian Jew, Magaluf (Makhluf) Levi, offered to pay his share of
the tax by ceding a debt owed him by a Christian. As the community could not
recover the debt by themselves, they petitioned the authorties to intervene and take
action against the Christian. This document provides useful information on both
the internal community taxation system and the economic activities of the Sicilian
Jews. Despite the well-known image of destitute exiles depending on charity,
some of them were apparently in a position to lend money to Christians, or sell
them merchandise on credit.

Spanish Jews also formed separate communities, distinct from the local Italian
Jews. When the physician Yosef Alzai, a Spanish Jew of Bitonto, gave too low an
estimate of his property in 1494 in order to pay a lesser tax, it was the leaders of
the Spanish Jews (li proti di li iudei spagnoli) who complained to the authorities
rather than the leaders of the old Jewish community.
In November of the same
year, the brothers Iosep Davit and Bonyoco, iudei spagnoli, refused to pay the
taxes set on the Italian Jews of Bitonto claiming that they had already paid the
ordinary and extraordinary taxes together with the Spanish Jews, in Naples.
incident may hint at strained relations between local Jews and newcomers in this
41 Rizzo is described as "proto et electo deli iudey siciliani habitanteno in quessa cit de
Capua#. The case is mentioned in ASN Sommaria, Partium, 38, 230v, Colafemmina,
Ibidem; SY, XII (1996), pp. 33-34. Also cited by Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, pp. 102, 111, 117,
42 On the organization of Sicilian Jewish communities see: H. Bresc, Arabes de langue,
Juifs de religion: L!volution du judasme sicilien dans l!environnement latin, XIIe-
XVe sicles, Paris 2001, pp. 275-283; M. Krasner, La comunit ebraica Palermitana,
Ph.D. thesis, Tel-Aviv University 2002.
43 On business practices of Sicilian Jews and converts in this period see Zeldes, The
Former Jews of this Kingdom, pp. 94-115.
44 ASN Sommaria, Partium 41, 92r (October 1494), Colafemmina, Puglia, no. 170, p.
45 The petition is addressed "per parte de Iosep Davit et Bonyoco suo fratre, iudei
spagnoli habitanti in quessa cita $ quantocha habia dicto exponente allegato che loro
hanno pagato et pagano dicti pagamenti ordinarii et extraordinarii con li iudei spagnoli
de questa cita de Napoli#, ASN, Sommaria, Partium 38, 115v, in Colafemmina,
%Documenti per la storia degli ebrei a Bitonto!, SY, II (1986), pp. 48-49; Idem, Puglia,
no. 177, p. 168.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
period, probably because the former felt that the exiles did not fully share the
nancial burden.
Sicilians and Spanish exiles, on the other hand, joined forces to pay the imposts.
At the end of 1493 members of both communities living in Terra di Lavoro took
a loan of 600 gold ducats from Yosef Abravanel to pay the donativo (!gift" or
!voluntary tax") due to the royal court. The monetary transaction was made in
April 1494 by a Siennese bank in Naples and was duly noted by a local notary.

This notarial act provides precious information on the identity of the leaders of the
Spanish and Sicilian communities in the rst years after the expulsion. The Spanish
Jews are: Samuel Cavalerius, Lazarus de Alatensi, Benvenisti de Benvenistis,
Johannes Frances (a converso?) and Jacob Toledanus, who are described as prothi
et consiliari ebreorum ispanorum. The Sicilians are: Prosper Bonevoluntatis,
David Agena, Salamon Aczeni and David Sonina, described as prothi et iudices
ebreorum siculorum. According to the notarial act, these leaders represented all
the Spanish and Sicilian Jews of the province of Terra di Lavoro; in fact, they
probably represented the leadership of their respective communities in the whole
kingdom, acting in this particular matter for the Jews of Terra di Lavoro.
The Sicilians can be identied and they are all members of well-known
families, mostly from Palermo. Prosper Bonevoluntatis (a Latinized form of the
name Bonavoglia) was the son of the physician Moise Bonavoglia who held the
ofce of dayan kelali (General Judge) of the Jews of Sicily in the rst half of
the fteenth century. In 1488 Prosper, a physician like his father, obtained the
renewal of the privileges accorded to his family in his father#s time. Members of
the Bonavoglia family lived in Messina but in June 1492, Prosper is mentioned
among the petitioners representing the community of Palermo.

In October 1492
he was still in Sicily but preparing to go into exile.
The physician Salomone
Aczeni or Azeni, the son of the Palermo physician Moise Azeni, is known from
other documents as a prominent leader of the Sicilian exiles (see below). David
Azeni was his brother.
The Sunina (or Xunina) were also a wealthy family from
46 Act of Notary Antonio de Arminio, preserved at the Real Casa Santa dell#Annunziata
di Napoli, no. 534. Publication: A. Leone, $Un debito ebraico del 1494#, Hebraica
Hereditas: Studi in onore di Cesare Colafemmina, Giancarlo Lacerenza ed., Napoli
2005, pp. 95-98.
47 On the ofce of dayan kelali (general judge), see: $Dienchelele#, Encyclopedia Judaica,
Edition, M. Berenbaum and F. Skolnik eds., Macmillan Reference, Detroit 2007,
pp. 648-649; Krasner, La comunit, I, pp. 54-61. On Prosper Bonavoglia, see conr-
mation of family privileges: S. Simonsohn, The Jews in Sicily, Leiden 2005, 7, no.
5106, pp. 4409-4410. As a petitioner representing the community of Palermo: Idem,
The Jews in Sicily, 8, no. 5495, p. 4734. In October 1492 he was allowed to take
clothes, books and a slave belonging to his family: Ibidem, no. 5720, p. 4943.
48 David Agena is David Azeni, brother of Salomone (the surname Azeni [Azena]
Nadia Zeldes
Palermo. Muxa Sunina was elected proto of the Palermo community in 1482. He
was still alive at the time of the expulsion but died shortly afterwards. In April
1492 David Sunina, son of Muxa, served as sacrestano maggiore, an ofcal in
charge of the nances of the synagogue. In her thesis on the Palermo community,
Mariuccia Krasner translated the Italianate term sacrestano maggiore as !treasurer"
(in Hebrew # as:).
In any case, David was probably still young

at the time and
became a leader in his own right after the death of his father.
It would be worthwhile pursuing the identity of the Spanish Jews, as almost
nothing is known of the prominent leading gures of this period, except for the
It is not clear whether separate communal organization was conned to matters
of taxation and leadership, or it also meant the existence of separate rabbinical
courts. The recently discovered manuscript that preserved the responsa of R.
Hayim ben Shabetai Yonah the Sicilian may shed some light on the jurisdiction
and competence of the rabbinical courts of the exiles.
Among the writings of R.
Yonah there is the protocol of a session of the rabbinical court convened in 1504
in Monopoli to rule on a disputed marriage promise. Some of the persons involved
are clearly of Spanish origins: Barukh Todros, Aharon Benveniste and Azariah ha-
Levi known as Bonas. Abraham Meir, the father of the promised bride, and his
daughter, the young woman (nra) named Amarusila (n:wu), were probably
also of Spanish origins. The tribunal was headed by R. Hayim ben Shabetai Yonah
whom we know to have been a Sicilian, but the other dayanim were Ya$aqov ben
Yosef ha-Levi and Yehudah ben Shemuel ha-Levi, whose names do not reveal
their origins. In any case, the litigants # Barukh Todros and his son Eli$ezer,
Abraham Meir and his daughter Amarusila # were not Sicilian Jews. Therefore,
is spelled here as Agena, perhaps a misreading of the letter !z"). Both brothers are
mentioned in various documents, for example: !David de Azeni et suo fratre", ASN
Sommaria, Partium 40, 182r, Colafemmina, %Documenti& Calabria$, SY, 1 (1985),
p. 13; a special permit for David Azeni and Salomone to visit Sicily after the expulsion
in Simonsohn, The Jews in Sicily, 8, no. 6049, pp. 5130-5132.
49 On the leading families of the Palermo community: Krasner, La comunit, II, App. I,
pp. 11-23. Muxa Sunina elected proto: ASP, Notaio Domenico di Leo, reg. 1394, c 445r,
Krasner, Ibidem, p. 20. Died in 1494: Simonsohn, Ibidem, 8, no. 6040, p. 5127. By
that time several other Palermitan leaders were dead: Moise Azeni, David lu Medicu,
Aron Azeni, and Muxa Xunina. David Xunina is listed as sacrestano maggiore in his
father$s life: ASP. Not. A. Ponticorona, reg. 1315, c 195r, Dec. 1490, Krasner, Ibidem,
II, p. 22. Denition of the term Sacrestano maggiore: Krasner, Ibidem, I, p. 78.
50 Biblioteca Medicea Laurentiana Plut. 88.4, p. 20r. I thank Dr. Avraham David of
the Institute of Microlmed Hebrew Manuscripts for giving me a photocopy of the
responsa manuscript. On R. Hayim ben Shabetai Yonah see: A. David, %Fonti ebraiche
relative alla vita intellettuale degli ebrei nel regno di Napoli tra la ne del XV e l$inizio
del XVI secolo$, Gli ebrei nel Salento, F. Lelli ed., (in press).
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
the rabbinical court that convened in Monopoli and was headed by a Sicilan dayan
must have had jurisdiction over Spanish Jews. But this evidence is problematic
since it comes after the disasters of 1494-1495 that wrecked havoc among all the
Jews of the kingdom, caused many conversions and destroyed whole communities;
moreover, Monopoli was at the time under Venetian rule. As the earlier responsum
of R. Hayim concerns only Sicilians, it is possible that in the rst years after the
expulsion, Sicilians and Spanish Jews had separate spiritual leaders and separate
Was there a general leader for all Sicilian exiles? I shall try now to answer
this question by providing some biographical notes on the gure of the Sicilian
Jew known as Salomone, artium et medicine doctor, and I would also like to offer
an explanation for his impressive title as consul siculorum ebreorum. His title is
mentioned in an ofcial document drawn in December 1493 that mentions him
as guardian of the three minor children of the late Abraham Lu Medico.
document in question shows that Salomone was entrusted with nancial and
juridical matters of the Sicilian exiles. Ever since this document had been cited
by Ferorelli, Salomone remained a mysterious gure. Now, as more facts come
to light regarding this person, he can be identied almost with certainty as the
son of the physician Moise Azeni of Palermo. Approximately a decade before the
expulsion, the physician Lazzaro Sacerdote of Termini Imerese (in Sicily) gave his
daughter to Salomone, son of Moise Azeni of Palermo. According to the marriage
contract, Lazzaro, the father of the bride, promised to pay for the studies of the
groom who would go to a university outside of Sicily (ire ad studium extra regni)
without naming the place. Because of this omission, Salomone!s place of studies
remained unknown until recently. From another source it becomes apparent that
Salomone Azeni studied medicine at the University of Padua where he graduated
in 1489. He was granted his degree from the hand of Emperor Frederick III, an
honor that allowed him the right to hold the title artium et medicine doctor, a rare
achievement for a Jew in this period.
However, it is not clear whether he returned
51 ASN Sommaria, Partium 37, 171, mentioned by Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 96. The full
text is published in the Appendix to this paper. On Jews receiving the full honors
see: V. Colorni, "Sull!ammissibilit degli ebrei alla!laurea anterioramente al secolo
XIX!, Rassegna Mensile di Israele, 16 (1950), pp. 202-216; D. Carpi, "Ebrei laureati
in medicina all!universit di Padova tra il 1520-1605!, Scritti in memorie di Nathan
Cassuto, D. Carpi, A. Segre, R. Toaff eds., Jerusalem 1986, pp. 62-91 (Hebrew); J.
Shatzmiller, Jews, Medicine and Medieval Society, University of California Press,
Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1994; R. Bonl, "Accademie rabbiniche e presenza
ebraica nelle universit!, Le universit dal rinascimento alle riforme religiose, G.
Paolo Brizzi, J. Verger eds., Milano 1991, pp. 133-151.
52 On Lazzaro Sacerdote and the terms of Salomone Azeni!s marriage, see: A. Scandaliato,
"Nuovi documenti sugli ebrei di Termini Imerese nel XV secolo!, Judaica minora
Nadia Zeldes
to Sicily before the expulsion or not. Salomone later converted and took the name
Ferrando de Aragona, acting as procurator for the Sicilian Jews and converts.
the summer of 1494, while still a Jew, together with his brother David, he received
special permission to return to Sicily and there conduct a general inspection of
Jewish property.
He probably commanded respect for having graduated from
a prestigious university, and it stands to reason that having lived for a long time
in Padua enjoying a high status in Christian society, he used his experience in
his dealings with the authorities in Naples. His later activities show that he was
familiar with the ways of the royal courts and it is likely that he honed these skills
at Ferrantes court while acting as consul of the Sicilian Jews. But it cannot
be excluded that the title consul siculorum ebreorum was simply another way of
saying that Salomone was one of several leaders of the Sicilian community, as
he appears in the notarial act cited above among the prothi et iudices ebreorum
siculorum, and it should be pointed out that the notarial act was written shortly
after the document that names him consul. Was the notary of Naples ignorant of
his supposedly special title? In other words, it could be that he was no greater, nor
more important, than the other Sicilian prothi et iudices listed in that document.
The notarial act registering the loan names the leaders of the Spanish Jews as
prothi et consiliari ebreorum ispanorum does not include the Abravanels among
them, except for Yosef in his role as lender. Don Yitshaq Abravanel, however,
presented himself in his commentaries as almost sole leader of the Spanish exiles.
In his introduction to Passover Sacrice, a commentary on the Hagadah (written
sicula, Firenze 2006, pp. 220-221, and Idem, !Due illustri medici ebrei nella Sicilia del
XV secolo, Ibidem, pp. 129-137.
53 I have discussed the role of Ferrando de Aragona as representative of the converted
Jews in my book: Zeldes, The Former Jews, pp. 75-79, 271-276. However, at the time
I was not aware of his studies at the university of Padua, therefore I couldnt identify
him with certainty. On his graduation at Padua, see: M. J. Wenninger, !Zur Promotion
jdischer rtze durch Kaiser Friedrich III, Aschkenas. Zeitschrift fr Geschichte und
Kultur der Juden V (1995), pp. 413-424. Possibly he was in the Veneto province at the
time of the expulsion from Sicily. A Jewish physician named Salomone ciciliano
(siciliano) doctor artibus et medicine is mentioned in the acts of a Venetian notary
in 1492: D. Carpi, !Notizie sulla partecipazione di alcuni medici alla vita sociale ed
intelletuale della collettivit ebraica di Padova tra la ne del !300 e linnizio del !500,
L!individuo e la collettivit: Saggi di storia degli ebrei a Padova e nel Veneto nell!et
del Rinascimento, Firenze 2002, p. 222. He could have joined his Sicilian brethren
before or shortly after the expulsion.
54 ASP Conservatoria di Registro, reg. 77, c. 531r-v in Simonsohn, The Jews in Sicily,
Leiden 2006, 8, no. 6049, pp. 5130-5132; N. Zeldes, !The Extraordinary Career of
Ferrando de Aragona: A Sicilian Converso in the Service of Fernando the Catholic,
Hispania Judaica Bulletin, 3 (2000), p. 104, note 27.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
in 1496 in Monopoli), Don Yitshaq gave a moving account of his rst years in
Naples and referred to his position of leadership among the exiles:
,nuw cn: ::r 5 ...::an: nr: nawa ,w:e: n5:u: :a Yitshaq
c:wa ru: av ,nun {a w cw+5 cw + : nwv ,{a {e :u
,:s ,sn :a c:an ,:e: ,5: vs ,:5 au aa: aua nruwa ,wua
nn nvn nuw ,n n5:ua cwvn cva c+n ,cu5r: +v na na
: + ,uaw: c uv: c +ur: c ,:w ,a nv cwu ,cnsa {an
We arrived in the Kingdom of Naples; in stillness and quiet (Isa. 30:15)
were we received ! For God has favored me (Gen. 33:11) there and
my possessions have spread out in the land (Job 1:10). I have made
a monument and a name for myself (Isa. 56:5) like the holy and the
mighty ones of the land (Ps. 16:3). I trade at the going merchants" rate
(Gen. 23:16), in peace and equity (Malachi 2:6), in joy and gladness
over the abundance of everything (Deut. 28:47). My children are with
me always (Job 21:8): the children are my children and the ocks
are my ocks (Gen. 31:43). My home is a meeting place for the wise
men who supervise those engaged in the Lord"s work (Kings 1, 5:30,
9:23). There the Torah is pastured; there your ock rests at noon (Song
of Songs 1:7); there the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel (Gen. 49:24),
[decides] whether [the people deserve] correction or clemency (Job
37:13); my hands are not bound (2 Sam. 3:34)! .

Abravanel"s account is an adaptation of biblical verses chosen to suit his argument
and it is carefully construed to contrast this idyllic time with the misfortunes that
were to follow. In his commentary he refers to his own position of leadership when
describing his home as a meeting house for the wise men who oversee the people,
but he carefully refrained from dening his own role. Reading between the lines
one can sift historical fact from the self projected image. Abravanel states that his
home was #a meeting place$ for the leaders of the community, thus revealing that
others dealt with everyday matters that concerned the exiles, probably the same
people who are named in the notarial act of April 1494. Abravanel"s role was, as
55 Don Yitshaq Abravanel, Zevah Pesah , Introduction to Pesah Hagadah, R. Israel Meir
Fraser ed., Jerusalem 2007, pp. 68-69 .
56 As a rule, I followed the English translation of the Bible according to the Massoretic
text published by The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia 1962. However, when
necessary I relied on other editions and made some changes to the text to allow for
a coherent English translation. On Abravanel"s time in Naples and Monopoli, see:
Netanyahu, Don Isaac Abravanel, ch. 3.
Nadia Zeldes
it always had been, that of a courtier, close to the mighty of the land. In fact, he
conrms in his own words that his connections and inherent wealth enabled him
to accumulate even more capital after coming to Naples. That is not to say that he
did not plead the cause of the Spanish Jews at the royal court, or that he, or other
members of his family, did not help them nancially, as proves the loan given by
Yosef Abravanel. Nevertheless, in a time of crisis, when it became clear that the
French were going to invade Naples, despite the gathering clouds of intolerance
that became evident after the death of Ferrante I, Don Yitshaq followed Alfonso II
to Sicily instead of weathering the storm with his fellow correligionists.
Although there is no doubt that the exiles had suffered greatly en route and
many landed in the ports of the southern kingdom sick, tired and pennyless, in less
than two years they formed new communities, elected new leaders and established
themselves economically. Spanish and Sicilian Jews acted in unison for their
common interests. They also managed to quarrel with the local Jews and among
themselves! The recently discovered responsa of Hayim ben Shabetai Yonah, a
Sicilian rabbi, demonstrates that the Sicilians too had spiritual leadership. But the
process of settlement and rebuilding suffered a terrible setback in the years 1494
and 1495.
The Calamities of 1494-1495 and the Jews in the Italian South
The year 1494 is described by the Florentine historian Francesco Guicciardini as
"a most unhappy year for Italy [!] and in truth, the beginning of those years of
misfortune, because it opened the door to innumerable and horrible calamities#.

Several events unleashed the "calamities# of 1494: the ascension to the throne of
France of the ambitious Charles VIII in 1483, the death of Lorenzo de Medici of
Florence, who acted as a moderate but forceful inuence on Italian politics, and
the death of Ferrante I in January 1494. Charles VIII had legitimate claims for
the throne of Naples going back to the house of Anjou who ruled both Sicily and
southern Italy in the thirteenth century. The rights of the Anjou dynasty had in fact
been usurped by Alfonso the Magnanimous when he conquered the Kingdom of
Naples in 1442. Now Charles VIII intended to assert his birthright, and to quote
57 "L$anno mille quattrocento novanta quattro, anno infelicissimo a Italia, e in verit
anno principio degli anni miserabili, perch aperse la porta a innumerabili e orribili
calamit#, F. Guicciardini, Storia d!Italia, Milan 1988, I, book I, ch. 4. p. 55. For
the English translation I rely here on The History of Italy, translated with notes and
introduction by Sidney Alexander, London 1969, p. 32.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
as successor to the House of Anjou, for want of a direct descendent of Charles
I [of Anjou], decided to personally spend that year in Italy, not in order to
occupy something that belonged to others, but because he believed it belonged
to him by right, for his ultimate goal was not the Kingdom of Naples in itself,
but to possess the necessary force to later turn his arms against the Turks for
the greater glory of the Christian name.

Modern historians doubt the sincerity of Charles!s motives, especially his intentions
to launch a crusade against the Turks, but even if this was pure propaganda,
declarations of the French king served to create a climate of religious fervor which
was probably a factor in the riots perpetrated by his army and the local population
against the Jews. Little known in this context are the incidents concerning the Jews
that are described by Andr de la Vigne in his Le Voyage de Naples, a chronicle
written in Old French that extolls the triumphs of Charles VIII in Italy. The French
chronicle gives the following narrative of an encounter between the French
soldiery and the Jews of Rome:
And at that time a quarrel broke in a street close to the Jewish quarter between
the Jews and our soldiers who belonged to the French guard and the Scottish;
and so erce it was and so well managed by the galant and resolute French,
that many Jews were killed then and there, and so was one of their leaders
who behaved too rashly. And after seizing their goods on the spot, they [the
soldiers] totally destroyed their synagogue.
58 "...le ragioni le quali il re de Francia, come successore della casa di Angi e per essere
mancata la linea di Carlo primo, pretendeva al reame di Napoli, e la deliberazione
di passare l!anno medesimo personalmente in Italia, non per occupare cosa alcuna
appartenemente ad altri ma solo per ottenere quello che giustamente se gli aspettava;
bench per ultimo ne non avesse tanto il regno di Napoli quanto il potere poi
volgere l!armi contro a! turchi, per accrescimento e esaltazione del nome cristiano",
Guicciardini, Storia, I, ch. 4, pp. 59-60. Here my translation slightly differs from
Alexander!s, compare, The History, p. 34.
59 For example D. Abulaa The Western Mediterranean Kingdoms: The Struggle for
Dominion, London and New-York 1997, pp. 248-249, and see the bibliography cited
there. More recently: E. Belenguer, Ferdinando e Isabella: I re cattolici nella politica
europea del rinascimento, Roma 2001 (the Italian translation of the Barcelona edition
of 1999 includes additional material that concerns Italy), pp. 209-235. But conict with
the Turks could still have been perceived as a real threat: N. Zeldes, #The Campaigns
of 1494-1495 in the Italian South: Ottoman Threat, Spanish Preparations, and Jewish
Gold!, Mediterraneo in armi, R. Cancila ed., Palermo 2007, I, pp. 207-226.
60 $En celluy temps se leva une noise entre Juifz et noz gens de souldee tant de la garde
francoyse qu!escossoyse, en une rue pres la place judee, et fut si grande et si tres bien
fondee par les Francoys gours et esvertuez que maintz Juifz furent illec tuez, et ung
de chefz de Judee trop rogue ; avec leurs biens qu!on prist la situez, on destruisit toute
Nadia Zeldes
The attack on the Jews and the destruction of the synagogue in Rome by French
soldiers is a historical fact reported by other sources. Andr de la Vigne, however,
reported the violent incident as one more example of the high spirited behaviour
of the galant soldiery. The conversion of a Jew in Florence is described in this
chronicle as another triumph of the king who personally held him over the
baptismal font and gave him his own name.
There is little doubt that the reigning
amosphere among the supporters of Charles VIII was that of a holy campaign, and
though its declared goal was a crusade against the Turks, the Jews were the rst
and immediate target. News of the coming of the king of France was enough to
spread the rumor that the Jews would be plundered.
The events created messianic
and eschatological expectations among Jews and Christians. The tensions of this
time are reected in the work of a Franciscan friar, Angelus Terzonis de Legonissa,
the Opus Davidicum, written in 1497. This work extolls the messianic destiny of
the French king as a descendant of the house of David,
thus making the house
of France rather than the Jews the rightful heirs of the Davidic dynasty. But this
author!s attitude towards the Jews is ambivalent: on the one hand he praises the
house of France for "having extirpated and expelled all Jews and heretics not only
from its borders, but also from within its realms#, and on the other, he praises the
Jews for recognizing Charles VIII as the "Messianic king# prophesied in the Book
of Daniel.
The Franciscan, however, misunderstood the Jews. They had indeed
leur synagogue#, Andr de la Vigne, Le Voyage de Naples, Milan 1981, p. 233. On the
author see the introduction to this edition. In my translation I relied on the glossary
appendix to this edition, as well as Frderic Godefroy, Dictionnaire de l!ancienne
langue franaise du IX
au XV
sicle, Genve-Paris 1982. The assault of the Jewish
quarter in Rome by the French soldiery is also mentioned by Bernldez: "zieron
muchos robos e fueras y muertes de ombres, e metieron a saco mano grand parte
de la judera, donde ava ms de tres mil vezinos judos#, Memorias del reinado, ch.
CXXXVII, p. 347. On the incident in Rome see also: A. Berliner, Geschichte der Juden
in Rom, Frankfurt am Main 1893, (New edition George Olms Verlag, Hildesheim,
Zurich, New York 1987), p. 76.
61 "A Florentine, le jeudy ensuivant, il s!arresta sans tirer plus avant, car ung juf de
franche volunt lui supplia en toute humilit que par luy eust, si luy plaisoit, baptesme,
la quelle chose il obtint ce jour mesme; car par la main le roi tantost le print, et sur les
fons humaneyment le tint; aussi, afn de memoire et renom, il le nomma Charles par
son droit nom#, A. de la Vigne, Ibidem, p. 243.
62 "se spase la fama innante la venuta di re de Francza che li iudei deveano essere
sacchizati#, Ferrorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 200 n. 7.
63 The work Opus Davidicum is conserved in the Bibliothque Nationale of Paris: A.
Linder, $L!expdition italienne de Charles VIII et les esprances messianiques des
juifs : tmoignage du manuscrit B.N. Lat. 5971 A !, Revue des tudes Juives 137
(1978), pp. 179-186.
64 "que non solum a connibus, sed infra regna sua omnes tam Iudeos tam hereticos
extirpat ac repulit# but also : "Nam iam cognoscunt illud Danielis (sic.) esse probatum :
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
identied Charles VIII as the king of the North of the Book of Daniel, but he was
perceived as a harbinger of the End of Days rather than a deliverer. According
to kabbalistic writings, the sufferings caused by the French conquest of Naples
were the birth pangs that would bring the Messiah. This particular interpretation
of the events can be found in the colophon to a copy of Sefer ha-Peliah
probably at the beginning of the sixteenth century:
Colophon to n:en eu (Sefer ha-Peli!ah, Book of Wonder)
Vatican Biblioteca Apostolica, ebr. 187
awr : .ns: n:n 5 ua nan5w nu ,5s: ne an5 :
n:w +v wwn :: ,n n:wu c+ n5:uu :5a c+nn suw nsnw
nw nur:un rwu :ar cn ,n ,vw n:uu av: n ns nv n:n
,esn |:u :v ::+ a:w nu cn uw : nes |:u aw5 n:ua
s 5 cuwu n en 5 ,cuw|n{ {w|n{ nn: nun n:5: +5
|:u :w +reu |:n |{e v+: : cu ue +v n:: ::+n :5 uu
cun as :v n +e nn ca ,+n c+ :v c+ n:u n: ar nes
...nvw a: w5 ,nu+|n{ (:v;|a{ nu+n 5:u :v cua
And I record here what I wrote in Rome on the Iyar 26, 5255 to the
Creation (1495). I think that the troubles which have beset the Jews
in all the kingdoms of Edom from the year 5050 (1490) of the sixth
millennium until the year 5255 (1495) ! it is a time of trouble for Jacob,
but he shall be delivered from it (Jer. 30:7) ! these are the birth pangs
of the messianic age. And the wars that took place in Italy when the
king of France named Carlo [Charles VIII] came, these are the events
prophesied by Daniel regarding the king of the North: to destroy the
Non auferetur sceptrum de Iuda, id est regale dominandi imperium per truncationem
lilii in altaribus positi, scilicet Christi oris. Quo autem lilius truncatus est plantatum
in terra semen perpetuo eius duraturum, de quo Karolus est". The Franciscan nished
his work with the words: #Gaude et tu Rex Regum Isdraelita Christianissimus$
Placuit Domino quando voluit Domini hanc sanctam manifestare ut Tua Majes-
tas magis ac magis grata non solum Christianis sed Hebreis erit", Linder, Ibidem,
pp. 183-184.
65 Sefer ha-Peli!ah (Book of Wonder), a fourteenth century kabbalistic work. The
colophon was published by S. Kraus, %Le roi de France Charles VIII et les esprances
messianiques&, REJ 51 (1906), pp. 87-96.
66 Vatican Ebr. 187. Bibliographical reference: N. Aloni and D. S. Lewinger, List of
Hebrew Photocopied Manuscripts in the Institute: Hebrew Manuscripts in the Vatican
Library, Jerusalem 1968, III, p. 30. I have checked the microlmed manuscript against
Kraus&s publication.
Nadia Zeldes
nations, to set up an abomination that desolates (Dan. 11:31, 12:11).
For the pope sits in desolation (Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11); he has left
Rome as did all the cardinals, and he went into exile in the midst of
the land (Isa. 5:8) because of his fear of the king of France, and no one
knows where he went. And the Lord has a sword sated with blood
(Isa. 34:6), which will descend upon Edom. (Isa. 34:5) In that day, the
Lord will punish the host of heaven in heaven and the kings of the earth
on the earth, as Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 24:21)

The sentiments expressed in the colophon leave no doubt as to the Jews view of the
descent of Charles into Italy, at best he is depicted as the sword of God descending
on the nations of Edom, i.e. Christianity. The desolating abomination ({wn
cuwn) is a quotation from the Book of Daniel, betting the general apocalyptic
theme of the colophon. As for the reference to the pope, the author probably meant
that Charles VIII was so feared, that even the pope and the cardinals ed Rome to
avoid him. The pope in question was Alexander VI Borgia, in fact, one of the few
Christian sovereigns who allowed the refugees of Spain to settle on their lands (see
above). However, it is not surprising that the author noted with glee the troubles
that befell the Church and the Christian nations. Such terrible events could not but
be a sign for the End of Days, for the coming of Messiah. Indeed, the Jews made
no secret of their beliefs and the Milanese ambassador, Antonio Stanga, reported
that on the eve of the French entrance into Naples they were expecting Messiah.
Meanwhile, the news of the approaching French army caused King Alfonso,
Ferrantes heir, to panic and he abdicated in favor of his nephew Ferrandino.
Alfonso decided to ee to Mazara, Sicily, and Ferrandino was defeated by the
French army and he had to ee too. On February 22, Charles VIII made a solemn
entrance in Naples. Even before the kings arrival, on February 16,, the mob
attacked the Jewish quarter in Naples and every place inhabited by the Jews and
put it to the sack.
Marino Sanudo, usually a very reliable source, reported that the
worst violence was directed against the Spanish marrani: And on the day of 18
[of February] the Jews and the marrani were cruelly sacked and they especially
wanted to put the Spanish marrani to the sack for they were very rich (Et a d
67 Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 201.
68 Die 16 Februari Napolitani se levarono a remore et saccheggiaro la Judeca, et in
onne loco dove habitavano Judei, M.A. Coniger, Cronache: Raccolta di varie
croniche, V, p. 30; on Jewish settlement in Naples see: G. Lacerenza, !Lo spazio
dellebreo: Insediamenti e cultura ebraica a Napoli (secoli XV-XVI), Integrazione
ed emarginazione, L. Barletta ed., Atti del convegno (Napoli 1999), Napoli 2002, pp.
357-427 (esp. pp. 361-370).
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
18 fo crudelmente sachizato li Zudei et Marani Demum volseno metter a saco li
Marani spagnoli, erano ivi molto richissimi).

Most non-Jewish sources of this period speak of the Jews and the marrani who
were robbed, attacked and made to ee. As yet, there has never been an attempt
to nd out who exactely were these marrani. Modern historians interpreted this
designation to mean the converted Jews, either the old group of converted Jews
in the Kingdom of Naples that maintained a separate identity for generations,
Spanish conversos who came in 1492. But all sources that mention the converted
Jews of the Kingdom of Naples name them cristiani novelli or neoti, the term
commonly used in southern Italy and Sicily.
The Capitoli issued in 1498 by King
Federico after the restoration of Aragonese rule also mention !the New Christians
who converted since the coming of the French to this place [i.e. the Kingdom of
Naples]" (li Cristiani novelli baptizati dala venuta deli Francesi in qua).
term marrani is totally absent from this document.
In his now classical study of the term marrano, Arturo Farinelli remarked that
in Italy it was usually used when referring to persons hailing from Spain or the
Iberian Peninsula.
It is therefore important to take it into account that the sources
cited above are Italian rather than Spanish, and the terms marrano and marrani
were used rather loosely in this period by various authors, usually referring to
Jews of Spanish origins, converted or not. A telling example is Machiavelli#s The
Prince where King Ferdinand the Catholic is praised for expelling the marrani
from Spain: !Beyond this, so as to be able to undertake greater campaigns, ever
69 Marino Sanuto, in Filangieri, Una cronaca napoletana, p. 125, note 72.
70 These were the Jews who converted by the end of the 13
century: U. Cassuto, $Sulla
storia degli ebrei nell#Italia meridionale#, Il Vessillo Israelitico 59 (1911), pp. 282-285,
338-341, 422-42; Idem, $The Destruction of the Jewish Academies in South Italy in
the Thirteenth Century#, A. Gulak and S. Klein Memorial Volume, Jerusalem 1942
(Hebrew), pp. 139-152; J. Starr, $The Mass Conversion of Jews in Southern Italy
(1290-1293)#, Speculum 21 (1946), pp. 203-211. Despite the passage of time, in the 15

century they still formed a distinct group, and they married only among themselves, as
noted by an inquisitor who investigated them. On the enquiry made by the inquisitor
Franciscan Matteo de Reggio, see: L. Amabile, Il Santo Ofcio della Inquisizione in
Napoli, Citt di Castello 1892, I, pp. 80-81.
71 I have discussed this premise in an unpublished paper given at the Italia Judaica
convention, Ebrei e giustizia, held in Trani in 2003: $ !Universitas neotorum": Legal
Aspects of the Mass-Conversions in South Italy and Sicily#.
72 B. Ferrante, $Gli statuti di Federico d#Aragona per gli ebrei del regno#, Archivio
Storico per le Province Napoletane XCVII (1979), p. 147. The text was also published
by C. Colafemmina in Gli ebrei a Taranto: Fonti documentarie, Bari 2005, no. 98,
pp. 149-161.
73 A. Farinelli, Marrano (Storia di un vituperio), Geneve 1925 (esp. pp. 43ff.). On
the meaning of the term marrano in Italy see also: Ruiz Martn, $La expulsin#, pp.
Nadia Zeldes
making use of religion, he resorted to an act of pious cruelty by chasing the
Marranos (marrani, in the original text) from his kingdom and despoiling them:
nor could this example be more wretched or more rare!.
Now, the term marrani appears in many chronicles and ofcial reports
concerning the situation in Naples during the time of crisis and beyond. Writing
on February 21, the ambassador Antonio Stanga reported that the Jews and the
marrani had been despoiled, but the Jews had been "cut to pieces! while the
"marrani escaped to sea!.
Marino Sanudo, cited above, also mentioned in his
Diarii (Journals) that in 1496 both the Jews and the marrani of Naples were in
danger of being expelled.
Interestingly, another source reports that in 1510, in
order to appease popular protests against the attempt to introduce the Spanish
Inquisition in the Kingdom of Naples, King Fernando sent a letter explaining that
the local Old Christians were in no way suspect, the Inquisition was only needed
for the following suspect groups: "Jews, New Christians (cristiani novelli) who
were in that kingdom, and also the marrani and bad Christians that His Majesty
had expelled from Spain and the island of Sicily!. The next paragraph provides
additional details, namely that the order of expulsion only regarded "Jews,
marrani and conversi of Apulia and Calabria!.
Why the need to spell out all these
categories? Clearly there was a distinction between "Jews! (locals, and perhaps
also Ashkenazi Jews), the converted Jews of the Kingdom of Naples (either during
the anarchy precipitated by the coming of the French, or those who had converted
in the thirteenth century), marrani (Spanish Jews?), and "bad Christians!, that
is converted Jews from the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. The separation of the
marrani from the conversi (the latter probably identical with the cristiani novelli)
74 "Oltre a questo, per potere intraprendere maggiore imprese, servandosi sempre
della religione si volse a una pietosa crudelt, cacciando e spogliando el suo regno
de# Marrani: n pu essere questo esemplo pi miserabile n pi raro!: Niccol
Machiavelli, $Il Principe# Mario Banfantini ed., in La letteratura italiana. Storia e testi,
R. Mattoli et als. eds., Milano-Napoli 1954, 29, ch. 21. For the English translation,
see: N. Machiavelli, The Prince, translated and edited by William Connel Bedford St.
Martins, Boston, New York 2005, p. 109. For the translator#s discussion of the term
marrani: "In Italy, marrano was often applied, as here, to the Jews and Muslims who
were forced to ee Spain, rather than to converts to Christianity!, Ibidem, p. 109, note
3. I fully agree with the translator#s note, except that the term marrano was rarely used
for Muslims.
75 Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 201.
76 Marino Sanuto, I Diarii, R. Fulin ed., Venice 1884, I, col. 32.
77 "solo lo faceva per li Giudei, et christiani novelli, che erano in detto Regno, et anco
per li marrani, et mali christiani che sua Maest haveva cacciati dalli Regni di Spagna,
et dall#Isola di Sicilia! and "le prammatiche dell#ordine che il nostro Re mandava da
Spagna de lo cacciare de li judei, et marrani, et conversi di Puglia, et di Calabria!,
Passero, Giornali, p. 172.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
is surely signicant. In any case, the cited letter consistently names the marrani
as a separate category. In view of the ambigous use of this term, I would like to
suggest a different reading of the various sources referring to the fate of the Jews
and the marrani in the Kingdom Naples. Instead of Jews and Spanish conversos,
one should read: local Jews and Spanish Jews.
Resentment towards the immigrants manifested itself already during the
rst year of their arrival. While King Ferrante welcomed the exiles, the local
population did not. They resented the Jews for bringing deadly epidemics, for the
competition they offered as skilled artisans, and most of all, because the hated and
feared Ferrante I favored them. Eliyahu Capsali!s description of the epidemic, and
most of all, the need to secretly bury the dead, reveals that the Jews were well
aware of the danger of popular violence. The situation changed for the worse after
Ferrante!s death. In March 1494 the Jewish community of Trani petitioned the
Sommaria to intervene because priests and laymen were harrassing the Jews and
contravening the orders and privileges given by the late king.
During Easter 1494
Christian youngsters of Lecce painted crosses on their foreheads to protest that the
Jews were not wearing the distinguishing sign. In April 1494 the Sommaria had to
intervene in favor of the Sicilian Jews of Tropea who complained that Christians
had insulted and attacked them in their own houses during Lent, acting against the
orders and privileges of the king.
In May of the same year, the Sicilian Jews of
Reggio and Altomonte complained that they had been beaten and abused by the
Christians and had to hide themselves, and in September the Jews of San Severino
left the city for fear of being robbed.

It is probably signicant that some sources speak of the wealth of the marrani
and the robbery of their houses. Although most exiles arrived pennyless, certain
privileged families brought much of their property to Naples and were quickly
integrated in the local economy. The Abravanels managed to increase their wealth,
as attested by Don Yitshaq!s own words. His son Yosef was in a position to lend
600 gold ducats free of interest to the Sicilian and Spanish exiles. It stands to
reason that there were others who had the means to lead an ostentatious life style
and it is not surprising that the people resented it. Both newcomers and local Jews
lended money on interest, took objects in pawn or sold goods on credit. Many
complaints brought after the restoration of the Aragonese dynasty (1497 and later)
mention the seizing of pawns and the destruction of credits, thus proving that
resentment towards Jewish lenders was a factor in the sacking of Jewish property.
In his introduction to Deuteronomy, written in Monopoli, sometime after 1496,
78 ASN Sommaria, Partium 40, 113v, Colafemmina, Puglia, no. 129, p. 129.
79 C. Colafemmina, "Documenti... Calabria!, SY, I (1985), p. 28; ASN Sommaria, Partium
40, 136r, Idem, Calabria, no. 41, p. 131.
80 Ferorelli, Gli ebrei, p. 199.
Nadia Zeldes
Don Yitshaq Abravanel conrms the reports of Marino Sanudo and the Neapolitan
chronicles, namely, that the Spanish Jews boarded ships trying to ee the riots.
Abravanel!s own property was looted:
My heart is broken over the wretched Jews, for they entered the ships: men,
women and cherished children; and in every ship, there was weeping and
wailing, they were sold to slavers, and the sailors were as mown thorns"
and many have forsaken the faith" I too was struck by God!s wrath" and
the people of the land plundered all my wealth.
Abravanel!s lament on the Jews who #entered the ships$ probably reects a
historical fact, that the Spanish Jews crowded the ships, as reported by the Milanese
ambassador Antonio Stanga, that the #marrani escaped to sea$. Some of them
sailed to Messina and remained on board ships for two months in dire conditions
until they were allowed to depart, as described by Capsali.

The French invasion and the violence and the sacking of Jewish property had
an traumatic impact on the exiles, especially coming so soon after the shock of the
expulsion. R. Yitshaq ben Hayim ha-Kohen of Xtiva who came to Naples after
many sufferings, thinking he would nd there a safe haven, described the French
soldiers in almost mythical terms: #rebels of the light, killers and destroyers"
a numerous people, large as giants, their weapons bright as lightening$.
a few more years in Italy R. Yitshaq ben Hayim ha-Kohen ed to the Ottoman
Jews and marrani ed the cities of the kingdom, either northwards to the
lands of the Holy See and the territories held by Venice, notably Monopoli, or
to Mediterranean islands under Venetian occupation (Corfu, Crete, Cyprus) and
to the Ottoman Empire.
Many converted to Christianity. Local Jews and the
81 ,n: n: :5a creu ::v ,cw: cw: n:a u:5: 5 ,c+un c+nn :v a: aw:
::5u s ca ...cru5 cs wv: cr:un ,caw: cn 5u ,n: n:n nnn
:: :5 n {n w: :s: ...n :nn a c: ..n+n, Yitshaq Abravanel, Commentary on
Deuteronomy, Introduction, ed. A. Shotland, Jerusalem 1999, pp. 4-5.
82 Capsali, Seder Eliyahu, I, p. 219.
83 Ms. Oxford Bodl. F. 16, Neubauer Catalogue no. 2770: M. Idel, %Chronicle of an Exile:
R. Isaac ben Hayim Ha-Kohen from Xativa!, Jews and Conversos at the Time of the
Expulsion, Y.T. Assis, Y. Kaplan eds., Jerusalem 1999 (Hebrew), p. 263.
84 After following King Alfonso to Sicily, Don Yitshaq Abravanel stayed a short time in
Venetian Corf, then went to Monopli, also Venetian territory in this period: Netanyahu,
Abravanel, pp. 71-75. The Sicilian scholar Shalom bar Shelomo Yerushalmi who left
Syracuse at the time of the expulsion, wrote in 1498 in Venetian Modon the colophon
to Sha!ar ha-Shamayim (the Gates of Heaven), a book on astronomy. Possibly he was
among the Sicilians who left the kingdom of Naples in the wake of the riots. After a
few years of wanderings Yerushalmi ended in Arta in the Epirus, under the Ottomans:
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
Spanish exiles who converted to Christianity remained in the Kingdom of Naples.
Most Sicilian converts, however, returned to Sicily.
Meanwhile, the political situation changed. In April 1495 an international
coalition, the Holy League, gathered its forces against Charles VIII. The League
was composed of Venice, Milan, the Holy See, Emperor Maximilian and Fernando
the Catholic. Its ofcially declared goal was defense against the Turks but its
undeclared purpose was to dislodge the French from Italy.
Under pretext of a
possible Turkish attack (or perhaps under the menace of a real one), Fernando
the Catholic sent armed forces to Sicily already in August 1494. In January 1495
he sent a letter to Juan La Nuza, the newly appointed viceroy of Sicily promising
him reinforcements against theTurks but hinting at the situation in the Kingdom
of Naples.
Thus, in the summer of 1495 there was a large army and a eet in
the south of Italy at Fernando!s disposal. Meanwhile the Neapolitan forces rallied
under Ferrante II and in February 1496 regained fortresses from the French.
Spanish troops headed by Gonzalo Fernndez de Crdoba were involved in these
campaigns. Despite the defeat of Seminara in June 1495, in the following years
the Castilian commander proved to be a decisive force that gained the kingdom
for Spain. An important development occurred in the summer of 1495 when the
abuses and anarchy caused by the French brought an about face of the public
opinion in Naples and people now supported the return of the Aragonese. King
Ferrante II died in October 1496 to be succeeded by his uncle Federigo who
reigned until 1502.
In 1497 King Federigo attempted to salvage the kingdom!s revenues by a new
decree that attempted to prevent Jewish emigration. Thus, the king ordered that
"no Jew or New Christian# would be allowed to sell his property or exact debts
unless given permission, and no one should leave without a providing surety
for his return.
But a favorable attitude seemed to work better than threats and
restrictions. The articles of 1498 legislation in favor of the Jews represent an
attempt by King Federigo to restore the former order of things. The new king
encouraged the return of the Jews and the reorganization of the communities,
promising to safeguard Jewish lives and property. It should be noted that most
articles regard both Jews and New Christians and refer specically to "those who
converted since the coming of the French#. The Jews diverge from the converted
Zeldes, $Diffusion of Sicilian Exiles!, pp. 324-326.
85 Zeldes, The Former Jews of this Kingdom (esp. ch. 2).
86 On the political situation in Italy see: J.N. Hillgarth, The Spanish Kingdoms, 1250-1516,
Oxford University Press, Oxford 1978, II, pp. 551-559; Belenguer, Ferdinando e
Isabella: I re cattolici, pp. 223-262.
87 Luciano Serrano y Peneda, $Nuevos datos sobre el Gran Capitn!, Hispania X (1943),
pp. 71-72. See also: Zeldes, $The Campaigns!, pp. 219-220.
88 Bonazzoli, $Gli ebrei del regno di Napoli!, p. 507.
Nadia Zeldes
only in the articles concerning Jewish wives whose husbands had converted. The
Jews asked that their dowries should be returned and their husbands forced to give
them bills of divorce.

Another consequence of the French invasion and the sack of Jewish property
was the impoverishment of formerly wealthy families. Abravanel lost much of his
property and his library at the hands of the looters and so did many others. In fact,
Christian debtors joined the pillage of the property of Jews and New Christians
during the riots. By the end of 1495 the scal commissioners of Apulia reported
that the Jews had nothing left to pay the taxes.
A good example is that of Moyse
Toledano, a Spanish Jew, formerly a banker. The capitano of Castellamare di Stabia,
writing on his behalf, stated the circumstances that caused the man!s bankruptcy:
Toledano, like other Jewish bankers, used to keep in pawn objects brought by
Christians and those had been lost during the sacking of Jewish property.

Indeed, many articles of the 1498 legislation deal with the return of property and
cancellation of debts. In answer to a petition by two converted brothers, the king
decreed that all objects that had been held in pawn in Naples and other cities
before the coming of the king of France, should be restituted to them.

The death of Charles VIII in 1498 and a truce between Fernando the Catholic
and France created a short period of stability. Thus, despite the wars between the
Spanish and the French that ended only in 1503, the Jews now faced a dozen years
of relative prosperity in the Kingdom of Naples.
Letter issued by the Camera Sommaria on the 3
of December 1493 regarding
the lawsuit brought against the Jewess Anna, widow of Abraham Lu Medicu, now
remarried, by her minor children concerning her dowry and their inheritance. The
children are represented by the physician Salomone, acting in his capacity as their
legal guardian and as consul of the Sicilian Jews.
89 Ferrante, "Statuti#, pp. 147-158; Colafemmina, Gli ebrei a Taranto, no. 98, pp. 149-161.
On Jewish wives and converted husbands, see: N. Zeldes, $ "As One Who Flees from
a Snake#: Jewish Women in Sicily in the Generation of the Expulsion Confront their
Husbands! Conversions!, Peamim, 82 (2000), pp. 50-63 (Hebrew).
90 Bonazzoli, $Gli ebrei del regno di Napoli!, pp. 502-506.
91 ASN Sommaria, Partium, 38 c 241, cited: A. Silvestri, Il commercio a Salerno nella
seconda met del quattrocento, Camera di commercio, industria e agricoltura, Salerno
1952, p. 35, note 2.
92 ASN Sommaria, Partium, 42, c 106: Ibidem, p. 35, note 3.
Sefardi and Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples
Pro Anna ebrea
Magnico dohaneri: peroch inde la causa chi se verteva tra Anna ebrea relicta
condam de Abraham Lo Medico judio per lo subscripto Magnico locumtenente et
Regia Camera de la Summaria nce stato interposto decreto del tenore sequente:
die III decembris 1493 in causa que vertitur coram magnico domino Julio de
Scorciatis UJD [utriusque juris doctor] regio consiliario et locumtenens magni
camerarii intra Annam relictam condam Habrahe ebrei et Tubiam, Aronem et
Altadonna, pupillos lios legitimos naturales dicti condam Abrahe eorum patris,
et pro eis magister Salomon arcium et medicine doctor, tamquam curator ipsorum
pupillorum et defensor,tamquam consul siculorum ebreorum, de et supra pecuniam
ducatorum duocentorum sextuaginta per dotibus dicte Anne et aliis, prout in
actis dicte cause continetur, decretum est per dictam Cameram quod virtute dicti
instrumenti dotalis dicte Anne producti et presentati in presentem causam, per
quod instrumentum sunt omnia bona dicti condam Habrahe viri sui obligata et
ypotecata per restitutionem dotum suarum iuxta formam dicti instrumenti cum
potestate capiendi propria autoritate etc. et actento quod dictum matrimonium est
dissolutum morte dicti Habrahe, superstitibus sibi dictis Tubia Aron e Altadonna
eius liis legitimis et naturalis, et sic factus est casus restitutionis dictarum dotus
iuxtam formam dicti instrumenti dotalis, quam de bonis prefati condam Abrae
assignetur tot et tanta bona mobilia extimanda per expertos in talibus usque ad
concurrentem concurrentem quantitatem dotum predicte Anne juxta formam
dicti sui instrumenti dotalis et de consignatione ipsorum bonorum debeat conci
instrumentum puplicum pro cautela ipsorum pupillorum cum interventu dicti
curatoris ad consilium sapientis ipsorum pupilorum. Hoc nostrum decretum etc.
Per tanto ve dicimo, ordinamo et comandamo chi servata la forma del predicto
preinserto decreto debiate fare consignare ala dicta Anna overo ad Arech suo
marito et legitimo procuratore tucte robe mobile che se trovano in questa regia
dohana le quale sono del dicto condam Habraham Lo Medico patre deli supradicti
pupilli che ascendano ala summa deli ducati duecento sectanta de carlini ad tar
cinque per ducato per le dote di ipsam Anna, iuxta lo tenore del instrumento
dotale et de lo preinserto decreto con intervencione del prefato magister Salomon
curatore de li dicti pupilli heredi ut supra, facendose le debite provisioni et cautele
dela consignacione predicta, iuxta lo tenore del preinserto decreto. No fanno
altramente. Datum in Regi Camera Summarie die IIII decembris 1493. Julius di
Scorciatis locumtenens. M[ichael] de Aicto
F[ranciscus] Coronatus pro magistro actorum.
Archivio di stato di Napoli, Camera Sommaria, Partium 37, 171r.