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Katherine Aron-Beller

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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.

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Katherine Aron-Beller

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In 1581, Pope Gregory XIII in his bull Antiqua iudaeorum improbitas authorized and expanded inquisitorial jurisdiction to include professing Jews (those Jews who openly practised Judaism). This chapter begins by listing the extant sources available regarding this inquisitorial jurisdiction in various inquisitorial archives in Italy. Then, using hitherto unused processi in the Modenese archives, it questions the level of disruption caused by the inquisition to Jewish life in the ducal capital and the lives of individual Jewish families in the outer peripheral towns of the Duchy. Through the lens of a centre/peripheral perspective, it then questions how far the Modenese tribunal used its own initiative and judgement in disciplining Jews rather than following orders from Rome. It concludes with an attempt to define the somewhat artificial absorption of Jews into inquisitorial jurisdiction.


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Edited by Katherine Aron-Beller and Christopher Black

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Katherine Aron-Beller and Christopher Black

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Katherine Aron-Beller and Christopher Black

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Katherine Aron-Beller and Christopher Black

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The Roman Inquisition

Centre versus Peripheries

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Edited by Katherine Aron-Beller and Christopher Black

In The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries, two inquisitorial scholars, Black who has published on the institutional history of the Italian Inquisitions and Aron-Beller whose area of expertise are trials against Jews before the peripheral Modenese inquisition, jointly edit an essay collection that studies the relationship between the Sacred Congregation in Rome and its peripheral inquisitorial tribunals. The book analyses inquisitorial collaborations in Rome, correspondence between the Centre and its peripheries, as well as the actions of these sub-central tribunals. It discusses the extent to which the controlling tendencies of the Centre filtered down and affected the peripheries, and how the tribunals were in fact prevented by local political considerations from achieving the homogenizing effect desired by Rome.