By: Moïse Schwab
A town in the department of Lot-et-Garonne, France, on the banks of the Garonne, southeast of Bordeaux. Some Jews settled here in the beginning of the twelfth century. The records show that the Jews of Agen were the first victims of the persecutions by the fanatical "Shepherds" (Pastoureaux), a body of wandering friars, who, headed by a Hungarian monk, under the pretense of delivering Saint Louis, the king of France, then a prisoner in the hands of Saracens, committed barbarous ravages before they could be suppressed. From Agen, the bloody persecutions spread through more than 120 communities in Guienne and Gascony. The unfortunate Jews sent delegates to the king of France imploring his protection. That Jews were still in Agen and its environs in 1250 is proved by the fact that the seneschal there was ordered to find all prohibited Hebrew books, and that the Dominicans, who aided the authorities, threatened with excommunication all Christians who hid these books, or sympathized with the Jews.
There was a hamlet, also inhabited by Jews, called Agenais, near Agen.
- Shebeṭ Yehudah, ed. Wiener, p. 4;
- Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah, ed. Amsterdam, p. 91;
- H. Gross, Gallia Judaica, p. 44.