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AUXERRE:

Chief city of the department of Yonne, France. Since the eleventh century an important community of Jews existed here and was presided over by eminent rabbis. These rabbis, knownas "the sages of Auxerre," were in correspondence with Rashi (Geiger, "Melo Ḥofnayim," quoted by Gross, "Gallia Judaica," p. 61). Several of the sages of Auxerre took part in the proceedings of the synod convened by Rabbenu Tam and Rashbam in Troyes about the middle of the twelfth century; and one of them, Samuel ben Jacob, was a signatory to the decisions. At this time Auxerre had a Talmudic school, over which Hezekiah presided, a rabbi whom Gross identifies as the savant of that name mentioned in one of R. Tam's letters (op. cit. p. 61).

The Jews were always treated kindly at Auxerre. From a letter written by Pope Innocent III. to the bishop of Auxerre, it is shown that they enjoyed the right to own farms, fields, and vineyards, for which they paid tithes to the clergy. But in 1208, emboldened no doubt by the protection granted them by the lord of the manor, the Jews refused to continue to pay the tithes. The bishop, having no other alternative, brought his grievance before the pope, who in turn could do no more than command all Christians, under penalty of excommunication, to avoid intercourse with the Jews until the demands of the clergy were satisfied ("Innocentis Epistolæ," vol. ii., book x., ep. lxii., Paris, 1682).

There is preserved in the municipal archives of Dijon a document, dated 1323, which relates to the confiscation of a house which belonged to a certain Jew of Auxerre, named Heliot (Gerson, "Essai sur les Juifs de la Bourgogne," p. 35). In 1379 a certain number of privileges were granted to the citizens of Auxerre by the Countess Mahand and Count John of Châlons. Of these privileges, many of which related especially to the Jews, the eighteenth runs as follows:

("Ordonnances des Rois de France," vi. 417.)

"The Jews of the countess are permitted to lend money to the citizens at the rate of threepence in the pound per week upon indentures passed under her seal or executed in the presence of two citizens, said interest not to continue for more than one year."

By the royal edict of Sept. 17, 1394, all Jews were expelled from France; and since that date there has been no Jewish community in Auxerre.

Bibliography:
  • Innocent III., Epistolœ, vol. ii., book x., ep. lxii., Paris, 1682;
  • Geiger, Sepher Melo Hofnayim, Hebrew part, p. 33, Berlin, 1840;
  • Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, vi. 215;
  • compare Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 61, 232-233;
  • Carmoly, Itinéraires de la Terre-Sainte des XIIIe-XVIIe Siècles, p. 187, Brussels, 1847;
  • Gerson, Essai sur les Juifs de la Bourgogne, p. 35, Dijon, 1893;
  • Ordonnances des Rois de France, vi. 417, Paris, 1723-1849.
D. S. K.
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