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ROUSSILLON ():

Province of ancient France, now forming the department of Pyrénées-Orientales. Jews settled there in the early part of the thirteenth century, and formed congregations at Perpignam, Collioure, Céret, Millas, Ille, Puigcerda, Elne, Thuir, Toreilles, Clayra, Salses, Le Boulou, and Villefranche-de-Confluent. In the last-named city, about 1250, was born Levi ben Abraham ben Ḥayyim, known for his part in the struggle between the partizans of philosophical studies and the adherents of Orthodox Judaism (1303-6). In 1228 King James I. forbade the Jews to hold any public office, or to employ Christian servants in their houses, while they were likewise prohibited from taking as monthly interest more than four deniers per livre of silver, or in a year more than one-sixth of the sum loaned.

In 1270 James of Aragon confirmed the franchise granted by the king, his father, to "all Jews dwelling at Perpignan, Confluent, and Cerdagne, and all others dependent on their collection," or contribution, and in 1323 his son Sancho exempted them from wearing the wheel while traveling. According to the "Cérémonieux," Pedro IV. authorized the Jews of Perpignan to enter France for commercial purposes in 1372; and in 1377 he gave letters of safe-conduct to foreign Jews who asked permission to visit Roussillon and Cerdagne. Don Martin, Duke of Montblanc, who succeeded his brother John I. in 1396, took severe measures against Christians who maltreated Jews, and frequently disavowed the actions of priests and monks who preached against them. In 1398 he commanded the governor of the two counties, under penalty of a fine of 1,000 gold florins, to establish at Perpignan a "carteria," or depot of standard weights and measures, so that every Jew might be enabled to verify the value of his goods and protect himself against fraud. In 1415 Ferdinand I. of Aragon forbade the Jews to receive in pawn any object belonging to the Church, or to practise medicine, surgery, or pharmacy among Christians, who in their turn were prohibited from receiving bread, meat, or any other kind of food from Jews. In case of violation of this law, a Jew was to be flogged in the public streets and squares, while a Christian was to be fined 50 sous for each infraction. In 1417 Alfonso IV. withdrew the Jews from the jurisdiction of their governors, the bailiff of Perpignan and the provost of Roussillon, and placed them under a royal procurator, who was charged with the administration of the province. Nor was the king less energetic in his measures against the Inquisitors, who had brought terror into the communities of the two counties, and who were prohibited by hint from interference with the Jews except in certain special cases; while two years later he forbade his officials to enforce the wearing of the wheel, under pain of a fine of 1,000 florins.

In 1492 a number of Jews, driven from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella, sought refuge in Roussillon and Cerdague, but in the following year they were expelled with all their coreligionists, and were forbidden ever to return, under penalty of death and confiscation of their property.

Bibliography:
  • Carmoly, La France Israélite, p. 46;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 199, 437, 632;
  • Henry, Histoire de Roussillon, i. 205, ii. 206 et seq.;
  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Rabbins Français, p. 628;
  • R. E. J. xv. 19; xvi. 1, 170.
G. S. K.
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