Avignon: Antoine Offray, 1781. Original document. Broadside. Elephant folio (14 6/8 x 34 6/8"). Large engraved seal (3 6/8 x 2 6/8") of the Avignon archdiocese at upper margin. Broadside framed in a 17 1/2 x 37 1/2" wooden frame manufactured by Mori, in Hollywood. This original 18th-Century anti-Semitic broadside was hung on the walls of Avignon and its territory, on October 25, 1781. It contains a preamble (in large character) by Avignon Archbishop Charles-Vincent de Giovio, as well as another one (in smaller character) by Cardinal Charles Rezzonico, both introducing the latest "Decret" (decree) enacted by the "Sacrée congrégation du Saint-Office" (Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office) on July 18, 1781.
The decree was intended to regulate the life of Avignonese Jews in the following manner:
Restriction of their use of Christian midwives (Art. I), and Christian nurses (Art. II); proscription of Christian servants in Jewish households (Art. III); restriction of water delivery, and clean laundry (Art. IV); regulation on their use of horses, and other animals in the markets (Art. V); restriction on their use of stables (Art. VI); obligation to wear a distinguishing sign: yellow hats (Art. VII); restriction concerning their movements in and out of the Jewish quarters (Art. VIII); proscription to debate in public (only sermons by an appointed preacher are allowed) (Art. IX); obligation to observe the ten articles of this Decree (Art. X). Jacques Capelloni's printed signature at bottom of the Decree. When the Jews were banished from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1496), many Jews fled and took refuge in the cities of southern France, including Avignon, seat of the papal court between 1309 and 1378, and Vatican territory between 1274 and 1791. However, the first settlement of Jews in Avignon goes back probably to the second century of the common era, a few years after the destruction of Bethar by Hadrian. The history of the Avignonese Jews in the 18th century is one long struggle between the city, the estates, and the Holy See. These three powers could never agree upon measures for or against the Jews. When the papacy needed funds, infractions by the Jews of the bulls and regulations of the councils were tolerated so long as the papacy profited by them. The Church, which permitted them to live, thought it necessary to degrade them in its own interests. After working as doctors, surgeons, masons, dyers and bookbinders in the 14th century, Jews were gradually excluded from all professions except money-lending and selling secondhand goods. They were forbidden to speak to Christians and to have sexual intercourse with them. The Jews were forced to wear distinguishing signs - first rouelles, red and white “wheels” pinned to their clothing, and later, yellow hats (Art. VII). As a matter of control, Jewish quarters, comprised of a single street had to be locked up tight at dusk. There was a Christian gatekeeper on the outside (which the Jews had to pay), and a Jewish one on the inside (Art. VIII). A 2/8 x 2 6/8" chipping along inner fore-edge (not affecting text). Minor contemporary inscription in ink along outer fore-edge. Text in French and Latin. Broadside in good+ to very good condition. g+ to vg. Item #39308