TRENT (German, Trient):
Oldest city of the Tyrol; a sovereign bishopric from 1027 to 1803. During the first half of the fourteenth century a small number of Jews, probably from Italy, settled in the episcopal city. During the first decades their history differed in no wise from that of the Jews living in the rest of the Tyrol; but by the beginning of the fifteenth century there existed for the Jews of Trent special ordinances similar to those in force in Bozen, as is proved by an order promulgated by Bishop Ulrich III. of Brixen in 1403. The Jews as prominent business men showed themselves of service to the bishops, and accordingly stood high in favor with them. Thus Bishop Alexander of Masovia (1423-44) on one occasion gave adecision in favor of the Jew Isaac against Peter von Rido (Sept. 3, 1440). The Jewish physician Tobias, who later (1475) died a martyr for his faith, was likewise very popular among the Christians.
The Jews owned houses, estates, and a separate Jewish school, and in general lived on the best of terms with their Christian fellow citizens, until the fanaticism of a priest caused untold disaster to descend upon the small but prosperous community. Bernardinus of Feltre, the indirect and probably the direct instigator of the murder of Simon of Trent, brought about the notorious ritual-murder proceedings of 1475 (see Simon of Trent). The community was dissolved; its rich members were put to death after the confiscation of their property by order of Bishop Hinderbach; and the surviving members were expelled. Sixtus IV., seriously ill at the time, in the bull "Facit nos pietas," dated June 20, 1478, sanctioned these proceedings in spite of the efforts made by the Bishop of Ventimiglia, who showed that the charges which had been brought were a mere tissue of lies. For centuries from that time no Jews dwelt in Trent; and as late as Oct. 20, 1638, the proceedings of 1475 were cited by the prince bishop Karl Emanuel of Madruzzo as ground for forbidding the settlement of Jews in the town. On the same occasion a law was promulgated to the effect that Jews when traveling might not pass through the precincts of Trent in closed wagons or sedanchairs, and that they must wear on the breast a badge the size of a thaler. The penalty for violating this law was to be a long imprisonment or heavy fine. In 1725 and again in 1731 it was ordered that Jews wear hats covered with red or yellow cloth. A few Jews were allowed to stay in Trent when provided with special letters of protection from the emperor, but only for a few days. Such a safe-conduct was granted, for example, by Emperor Maximilian to the Jew Emanuel, son of Samson, on March 1, 1516.
In recent times several Jewish merchants have settled in Trent; but they have no opportunities for holding religious services, and, like all the Jews in the Tyrol, they belong to the community of Hohenems.