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1. Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter provides an overview of this book, which uses the tombstone as a lens through which to examine the historical development of Jewish culture in Padua. The tombs of the Middle Ages and early modern era are a well-ploughed field in the study of European art history, but while Jewish cemeteries have been the subject of thousands of studies, the focus has usually been on genealogy or art, with little or no attention paid to the tombstone's value for cultural history. Jewish settlement in Padua was part of a wave of immigration to northern Italy in the fourteenth century, with new arrivals coming from further south in Italy and from beyond the Alps. Charters for Jewish settlement always included a grant of land for a cemetery, and the Padua community had a series of cemeteries before the ones studied here, most recently the cemetery in via Codalunga.

Keywords: cemeteries; European art history; Jewish culture; Padua; tombstone



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