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Outside the Ghetto: Jews and Christians in the Duchy of Modena

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image of Journal of Early Modern History

Abstract Historians have in the past concentrated their studies of early modern Jewish life on the main city-states of Northern Italy where the largest Jewish communities existed. These areas have been categorized as territories which absorbed Jewish immigrants, enclosed them in ghettos, and monitored their actions with the creation of specific agencies. My essay turns to Jewish existence in the smaller towns and rural areas of the duchy of Modena in the seventeenth century, and attempts to question how this alienated minority was able to fare in areas which housed no ghettos. Here the political and religious decentralization, particularly in the early seventeenth century, generated retaliatory hostility as well as intimacy between Jews and Christians. Sources for this study will be Inquisitorial documents that concerned professing Jews. These sources, once decoded, provide extraordinarily rich images of daily life and provide a unique picture of social relations between the two religionists.

Affiliations: 1: Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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