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POITOU:

Ancient province of France. Several Jewish communities were founded there in the twelfth century, notably those of Niort, Bressuire, and Thouars (department of Deux-Sèvres), Chatellerault (Vienne), and Mortagne and Tyfauges (La Vendée). About the year 1166 the scholars of the province took part in the synod convened at Troyes under the auspices of R. Tam and RaSHBaM. In 1236 Pope Gregory IX. interfered in behalf of the Jews of Poitou, then persecuted by the Crusaders. Alphonse de Poitiers displayed great severity in all his dealings with the Jews. In 1249 he expelled them from Poitiers, Niort, St.-Jean-d'Angély, Saintes, St.-Maixent, and Rochelle, and five years later he released the Christians from all interest due to Jews. In 1267 Jews were forbidden to take part in public functions or to build new synagogues. A poll-tax was imposed on them in 1268, and they were obliged, under pain of imprisonment, to declare the exact value of their possessions, whether personal property or real estate. Alphonse exacted with the utmost rigor the payment of the taxes he imposed on them, and disregarded the measures taken in their behalf by the Bishop of Toulouse. In 1269 he compelled them to wear the badge; but in 1270 he exempted the Jew Mosset of St.-Jean-d'Angély and his two sons, on the payment of a sum of money, from the obligation of wearing this badge before All Saints' day. In the same year he appointed the Dominican prior of Poitiers and a secular priest chosen by the royal councilors to conduct an investigation of usury in the jurisdiction of Poitiers. He ordered that every Christian should be believed upon oath in regard to any sum less than six sols; the inquisitors were to pronounce upon cases not involving more than one hundred sols, while cases involving greater amounts were to be referred to the decision of the sovereign. In 1296 the Jews were expelled from Poitou, Philip the Fair exacting in return from the Christians, who benefited by the expulsion, a "fuage" (hearth-tax) of 3,300 pounds. In 1307 a question was raised regarding the rent of a house and lands situated at Chatillon-sur-Indre, which had formerly belonged to the Jew Croissant Castellon, called the "Poitovin," the son of Bonfil de Saint-Savin.

The Jews of Poitou were persecuted in 1320 by the Pastoureaux, and in 1321 were accused of having poisoned the springs and wells. Only one scholar of Poitou is known—R. Isaac, mentioned as a commentator on the Bible (Zunz, "Z. G." p. 89).

Bibliography:
  • Depping, Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age, pp. 88, 129;
  • Dom Vaissète, Histoire Générale de Languedoc, iii. 510, 513;
  • Guillaume de Nangis, Continuatio, p. 78;
  • Malvezin, Hist. des Juifs de Bordeaux, pp. 45-46;
  • R. E. J. ii. 44; iii. 216; vi. 83; ix. 138; xv. 237, 244;
  • Saige, Les Juifs du Languedoc, pp. 20, 26;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 451 et seq.
G. S. K.
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