MANTUA, city and province in N. Italy, an important Jewish center in late medieval and modern times. -History The first record of a Jewish settlement in Mantua dates from 1145, when abraham ibn ezra lived there for a while. A small Jewish community existed during the heyday of the city-republic. Sometime after the Gonzaga had become lords of Mantua, Jewish bankers were invited to start operations in the capital and province. Subsequently the Jewish population increased, reaching 3,000 by 1600. The merchant and artisan population soon outnumbered the bankers. Some 50 Jewish settlements of varying size flourished in the province, the major ones being bozzolo , sabbioneta , Luzzara, Guastalla, Viadana, Revere, Sermide, and Ostiano. The Jews were protected by a series of privileges granted them by popes, emperors, and the Gonzaga rulers. A Christian loan bank (monte di pietà ) was established in Mantua in 1486 to compete with Jewish banking, but initially at least had little success. Anti-Jewish riots took place at Mantua in the 15th century, fostered by the Church and aided and abetted by the business competitors of the Jews. There was also an isolated case of blood libel in 1478. At the end of the 15th century the regulation imposing the jewish badge was introduced in Mantua. Rioting in 1495, after Duke Francesco Gonzaga's indecisive encounter with the French forces at Fornovo, resulted in the confiscation of the house of the leading Jewish banker in the city, daniel norsa , and the erection of the Church of the Madonna della Vittoria on the site. david reuveni visited Mantua in 1530, but failed to obtain the support of either the ruler or the Jews. Two years later solomon molcho was burned at the stake there. The Counter-Reformation began to affect the Jews of Mantua adversely in the last quarter of the 16th century. Restrictive measures and anti-Jewish propaganda culminated in riots and murder. The worst outrage occurred in 1602, when seven Jews were hanged on a charge of blasphemy at the instigation of a Franciscan rabble-rouser. Some ten years later the Jews of Mantua were confined to a ghetto. The worst disaster in their history befell Mantuan Jewry in 1629–30, when they were despoiled of their possessions during the sack of the city by the German troops and then banished. A moving account of the disaster and of the return of the survivors is the contemporary Ha-Galut ve-ha-Pedut ("Exile and Deliverance") by Abraham Massarani (Venice, 1634). The events of 1630 decimated the Jewish community which never quite recovered its former importance. In 1708 the duchy of Mantua came under Austrian rule. In the last quarter of the 18th century Mantua became the chief center in the struggle for Jewish civil rights in Austrian Lombardy. On the Jewish side were ranged R. jacob saraval of Mantua and benedetto frizzi of Ostiano who had to contend with the lawyer G.B. Benedetti of Ferrara and G.B.G. d'Arco, a political economist. During the 18th century the Jewish population increased: In 1707, 1,723 Jews lived in Mantua and in 1764, 2,114. In 1754 the guild of silversmiths threatened the Jewish ghetto and the Jews were maltreated for a month in spite of the defense of ducal troops. When in 1797 the French revolutionary army captured Mantua the ghetto was abolished, its gates were torn down, and the ghetto square was renamed Piazza della Concordia. After its recapture by the Austrians in 1799, however, several Jewish "revolutionaries" were banished from Mantua, among them Issachar Ḥayyim Carpi of Revere, who described the events in his Toledot Yiẓḥak (1892). The French again ruled Mantua from 1801 to 1814 and R. Abraham Vita cologna of Mantua was among the foremost personalities in the Napoleonic sanhedrin . During the last period of Austrian rule in Mantua (1814–66) there occurred yet another blood libel (1824), and in 1842 anti-Jewish riots took place. A number of Jews from Mantua began to immigrate to Milan from the end of the 18th century mainly because of greater professional and socio-cultural activities. The Jews of Mantua, like their coreligionists elsewhere in Italy, took an active part in the Italian Risorgimento. Among them were giuseppe finzi of Rivarolo, one of the "martyrs of Belfiore," and the writer tullo massarani . When Mantua was incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy (1866) the last restrictions affecting the Jews were removed. At that time the Jewish population reached 2,795, its highest figure since 1603. Subsequently migration and assimilation reduced the community. In 1931 the community numbered only 669 Jews, mainly because of immigration to Milan and other Italian cities and also because of assimilation. The anti-Jewish measures of the Fascist regime (see italy ) seriously affected the Jews of Mantua, coming to a climax under the German domination in 1943–45. A concentration camp was set up in Mantua. From the province of Mantua 44 Jews were deported to the death camps, and over 50 Mantuan Jews perished. Only some of the survivors returned to Mantua after the war. By 2000 fewer than 100 Jews lived in Mantua, but in spite of the number they maintained one of the former synagogues with services. Thanks to the active and economic support of the Mantua municipality and funds from the Italian State Ministry of Culture the Jews carried out cultural activities and were able to maintain their rich archive and library, inventoried and in part deposited at the City Hall Library of Mantua.   -Cultural Life During its heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries the community of Mantua made important contributions to the development of Jewish communal institutions in Italy. The assembly of all taxpayers elected a "large" council, which in turn elected a "small" or executive council of seven to ten members. Alongside these, several smaller executive committees functioned. The chief officers were two massari (ממונים). Communal regulations, especially those pertaining to taxation, were published in Hebrew at regular intervals, as were also sumptuary laws for the restriction of ostentation in clothing and festivities. The synagogues of Mantua included the Great Synagogue of the Italian rite, and several smaller synagogues of the Ashkenazi and Italian rites. The community maintained a public school system and welfare institutions, including medical services for the poor. The rabbinical court had extensive powers until the grant of Jewish emancipation. Its procedure was laid down in the Shuda de-Dayyanei ("Judges' Verdict") of 1677–78. Mantua was an important Jewish cultural center during the Renaissance in Italy. Prominent scholars in the 15th century included judah messer leon , rabbi, physician, and philosopher; R. joseph colon , the greatest rabbinical authority in Italy; Mordecai finzi , mathematician, astronomer, doctor, and banker; and Baruch de Peschiera, scholar and merchant. abraham conat , a physician and talmudist, founded at Mantua about 1475 one of the first Hebrew printing presses; the first dated work issued was the Tur Oraḥ Ḥayyim (1476). His wife, Estellina, assisted him as a printer. Other Hebrew printers active at Mantua included Samuel Latif (1513–15), Joseph b. Jacob Shalit and Meir Sofer, both of Padua, Jacob ha-Kohen of Gazzuolo (1556–76), Samuel Norsa and his sons Isaac and Solomon (16th century); the Perugia and d'Italia families (17th and 18th centuries). The Hebrew press in Mantua was the second largest in Italy after Venice. Sixteenth-century scholars included Azariah de' Rossi , author of Me'or Einayim; the versatile Abraham Yagel gallico ; R. Azriel Diena of Sabbioneta; the preacher judah moscato ; several members of the norsa (Norzi) family including Jedidiah Solomon Norsa, author of Minḥat Shai; the Provençal brothers moses , david , and Judah, rabbis and scholars; Abraham Colorni, engineer and inventor; members of the finzi , cases , fano , rieti , and Sullam families; the portaleone family, physicians for three centuries; and judah leone b. isaac sommo , playwright, poet, and author of the famous "Dialogues on the Theater." Mantua was the most important center of Jewish participation in the Renaissance theater. The community provided its own theater company, which put on comedies and other plays for court performances throughout the 16th and early 17th centuries. The Jews of Mantua were also active in music and the dance. The greatest Jewish composer in Mantua and the first composer of modern Jewish music was Salamone de' Rossi , whose sister "Madama Europa" acted on the Mantuan stage. Other Jewish musicians, dancers, and actors at Mantua included Abramo Dall' Arpa and his nephew Abramino; Isaac Massarani; Angelo de' Rossi; and Simone Basilea. In the 17th and 18th centuries there lived at Mantua the Basilea family of rabbis and scholars, including solomon aviad sar-shalom basilea ; Judah Briel, rabbi and polemicist; moses zacuto , mystic and poet; Samson Cohen Modon, rabbi and poet; Jacob Saraval, rabbi, polemicist, traveler, and preacher; the brothers Jacob and immanuel frances , poets; the Cases family, rabbis, physicians, and scholars; and samuel romanelli , poet and playwright. Outstanding modern Jewish personalities include marco mortara , rabbi and bibliophile; Tullo Massarani, writer; and vittore colorni , jurist and historian. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah, 2 vols. (1962–64); Milano, Bibliotheca, index, S.V. Mantova; Milano, Italia, index, S.V. Mantova; M. Mortara, Indice Alfabetico dei Rabbini… (1886), passim; Roth, Italy, index; idem, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), index; D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), 30ff., 323ff.; M. Steinschneider and D. Cassel, Juedische Typographie (1938), 14, 23, 26ff.; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 15ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. Bernardini, La sfida dell'uguaglianza. Gli ebrei a Mantova nell'età della rivoluzione francese (1997). (Shlomo Simonsohn / Federica Francesconi (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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