Town of Austrian Galicia. An organized community existed there in the middle of the sixteenth century. The Jews were, for the most part, under the jurisdiction of the lords of Tarnow, the city being the hereditary possession of the latter. In 1637 Ladislaus Dominik granted the Jews a privilege placing them under the jurisdiction of the castle, assuring them of protection, and permitting them to engage in commerce on the same footing as other citizens. In 1654, however, popular jealousy, combined with the intrigues of the magistracy, secured the abrogation of this privilege; but when the town was brought to the verge of ruin in 1670 by the plague, conflagrations, and attacks of the Swedes, Alexander Janusz, its overlord, was forced to restore the privilege to the Jews in the interest of the town. This privilege was confirmed by Michael Radziwill in the same year, by Stanislaus Koniecepolski in 1676, and by Katarina Radziwill in 1681 and 1684.
In 1670 Janusz succeeded in effecting the following agreement between the Jewish inhabitants and the magistrate and the gilds: (1) the Jews should pay 30 per cent of all municipal taxes; (2) they should purchase goods only from the gilds within the town, except at the annual and weekly fairs; (3) they should surrender to the gilds a certain percentage of all goods purchased in the markets for retail purposes.
When misfortune on misfortune had reduced Tarnow to ruins early in the eighteenth century, its revival was due to the Jews, who paid, in accordance with a decree of Paul, Prince Sanguszko, then the lord of Tarnow, about three-fourths of all the taxes of the municipality (1730), receiving in return certain commercial privileges. Scarcely had the town been reestablished by these measures when the citizens, and even more eagerly the Christian gilds, resumed their attacks upon the Jews and the Jewish gilds, which had been organized about that time. This crusade was headed by the clergy, who insisted on Jewish isolation, although they maintained profitable business relations with the synagogue of Tarnow. In 1765 the community of Tarnow numbered 2,325 persons, but it ceased to exist after the first partition of Poland (1772).