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VILLEFRANCHE or (VILLAFRANCA):

Town in the mountain district of the department of Rousillon, France; belonged formerly to Aragon. It was founded in 1095, and had a Jewish population as early as the middle of the thirteenth century, among the first settlers being Jews from Provence. In 1274 the small community was granted permission to lay out a cemetery; and in 1328 it was allowed to rebuild its synagogue, which had been destroyed about seven years previously. The edifice was presented in 1392 to the settlement of Monte de Pacht.

Villefranche, now called Villefranche de Confluent, was the birthplace of Levi ben Abraham. It should not be confounded with Villafranca de Panadés in Catalonia, nor with Villafranca in Navarre, both of which towns had Jewish communities, the latter until 1498.

Bibliography:
  • Yanguas, Antiguëdades de Navarra, iii. 258;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 199;
  • R. E. J. xvi. 184;
  • Rios, Hist. ii. 14, 163;
  • Jacobs, Sources, Nos. 147, 541, 900, 1710.
J. M. K.
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