Ancient independent duchy; part of the kingdom of Sardinia from 1720; ceded to France in 1860; and now (1905) forming the departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. When in 1182 the Jews were expelled from France by Philip Augustus, many of them sought refuge in Savoy, especially in the cities of Chambéry, Yenne, Seissel, Aiguebelle, Chillon, Chatel, and Montmélian (comp. Joseph ha-Kohen, "'Emeḳ ha-Baka," p. 71); and a new contingent of settlers arrived after the second French expulsion in 1306. Toward the end of the thirteenth century Amadeus V. granted the Jews of his dominions many privileges; these were renewed Nov. 17, 1323, by Edward, who accorded special favors to Vivant de Vesos, to Magister Agin, Vivant's son-in-law, and to Harasson de Bianna. In 1331 Aymon the Peaceful reduced the yearly taxes of the Jews of Savoy from 2,000 gold florins to 1,200.
Savoy was especially prominent in the tragedy of the Black Death in 1348. Chambéry, its capital, was alleged by the accusers of the Jews to have been the place where the poison for the wells, the supposed origin of the plague, was prepared by Rabbi Peyret and a rich Jew named Aboget. In consequence of this accusation Jews were massacred at Chambéry, Chillon, Chatel, Yenne, Saint-Genis, Aiguebelle, and Montmélian. In the last-mentioned town the Jews were imprisoned, and while they were awaiting judgment the populace invaded the prison and massacred them, with the exception of eleven persons who were later burned alive in an old barn filled with inflammable materials. A document relating to that persecution has preserved the names of the victims of Aiguebelle. These were: Beneyton, Saul, the Jewess Joyon, Lyonetus, Soninus, Vimandus, Bonnsuper, Samuel, Mouxa, Beneyton, Coen, Helist, Jacob and his son Bonionus, Parvus Samuel, Abraham, Benyon, Sansoninus, Samuel, and Magister Benedictus. However, the persecution was soon forgotten, and the Jews of Savoy resumed their occupations, which consisted chiefly in money-lending and trading in jewelry. Their success in the former is evidenced by the fact that the dukes themselves were very often their debtors. In 1366 the wife of Amadeus VI. pawned her jewels to two Jews; and in 1379 the treasurer of Savoy was charged to pay to the Jews Agino Ruffo and Samuel of Aubonne 200 gold florins for a crown the queen had bought from them. In 1388 the plate of Amadeus VII. was deposited with a Jew named Aaron as security for the sum of 800 gold florins.Hebrew Books Examined.
A new persecution occurred in 1394 at the instigation of Vicente Ferrer (Joseph ha-Kohen, l.c. p. 75). In 1417 the Jews of Savoy were charged with possessing books which contained blasphemies against Christianity; and two converted Jewish physicians, Guillaum Saffon and Pierre of Macon, were commissioned to examine all books written in Hebrew. A similar charge was brought in 1430, and the Hebrew books were again examined, the examiner being a converted Jewish physician named Ayme, who ordered them to be burned. From the year 1429 the condition of the Savoy Jews grew more and more precarious. In that year Amadeus VIII. expelled the Jews from Châtillon-les-Dombes. A year later he annulled all the privileges that had been granted to the Jews by his predecessors. He confined the Jewish inhabitants to special quarters, in which they were locked during the night and during Holy Week, and he ordered them to wear on the left shoulder a cloth badge in the shape of a wheel, half white and half red, four fingers in width. He also renewed the old prohibition against keeping Christian servants, and forbade the buying of sacred vessels or any merchandise without the presence of witnesses or of a notary. At the instigation of a converted Jewish physician named Louis, of Nice or Provence, who had been charged by his godfather, Duke Louis, to make an inventory of the Jewish books of Chambéry, a persecution broke out in 1466. This persecution is, according to Gershon, identical with that reported by Solomon ibn Verga ("Shebeṭ Yehudah," No. 11) to have taken place in 1490. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, followingupon the general banishment from Spain in 1492, the Jews were ordered to leave Savoy. It seems, however, that a small community remained in Chambéry, which, according to Victor de Saint-Genis ("Histoire de Savoie," i. 455), still existed in 1714.Rabbis and Scholars.
Of the prominent men connected with Savoy may be mentioned the following: R. Aaron of Chambéry, commentator on the Pentateuch; R. Jacob Levi of Chambéry; R. Solomon Colon, father of Joseph Colon; and Gershon Soncino, who, in his preface to the Hebrew grammar of David Ḳimḥi, says that he collected in Chambéry the "Tosafot Ṭuk" (see Eliezer of Touques). Numerous Jewish physicians lived in Savoy, the most prominent among them being: Samson, physician to Amadeus V.; Palmieri, body-physician of Amadeus VI. and physician of the city of Chambéry; Helias of Evian, invited in 1418 to attend the daughters of the Count of Savoy; Isaac of Annecy; Jacob of Chambéry, physician to Bonne de Berri, mother of Amadeus VIII.; Solomon, physician to Amadeus VIII.; and Jacob of Cramonoz, physician to the regent Yolande.
- Costa de Beauregard, Notes et Documents sur la Condition des Juifs de Savoie, in Mémoires de l'Académic Royale de Savoie, 2d series, ii.;
- Victor de Saint-Genis, Histoire de Savoie, passim;
- Mémoires de la Société Savoise d'Histoire et d'Archéologie, xv. 21;
- Grätz, Gesch. vii. 362;
- Gerson, Notes sur les Juifs des Etats de la Savoie, in R. E. J. viii. 235 et seq.;
- idem, in Arch. Isr. ii. 229 et seq.;
- Isidore Loeb, in R. E. J. x. 32 et seq.;
- Educatore Israelità, v. 368.