Town in the department of Aude, France; the Carcaso or Carcassio of the Romans. It is variously transcribed in Hebrew as , etc.

Under Roger II.

Although the settlement of Jews at Carcassonne goes as far back as the early centuries of the common era, official documents relating to them are not met with till the twelfth century. A cartulary of the Templars of Douzens in 1162 mentions a territory called "Honor Judaicus" in the environs of Carcassonne; and two charters of the same century describe Jews as lords of the manor. In 1142 a Jew named Bonisach, son of Ganiol (Hebrew name, Isaac ben Eliezer), gives his approval, as lord of the manor, to a donation of a vineyard made by its proprietors to the Templars. A similar case occurs forty-one years later when four Jews, joint lords of the manor, sign a deed of conveyance of vineyards bought by the Templars. One of the signers was Moses Caranita, who held the office of bailiff. The bestowal of this distinction upon a Jew was not unusual in the dominions of the counts and viscounts of Carcassonne, who protected their Jewish subjects and granted them many privileges. Raymond de Trencavel interceded with the bishops of his dominions to abolish the abuses to which the Jews were subjected during Holy Week. Roger II. gave the Jews special evidences of his favor, and took the most prominent among them under his personal protection. Thus, he secured the freedom of the eminent Talmudist Abraham ben David of Posquières (RABaD), who had been thrown into prison by the lord of Posquières, and gave him shelter at Carcassonne. The example of Roger was followed by his successor, who assigned to his Jewish bailiffs the rank of barons in his court.

The crusade against the Albigenses brought a reaction in the state of the prosperous community of Carcassonne. Ascribing the Albigensian heresy to the influence of the rabbis, the counts and viscounts were compelled at the council of Saint-Gilles to swear that no public office should be entrusted to Jews. Moreover, Carcassonne in 1209 passed into the hands of the counts of Montfort, who were not so favorably inclined toward the Jews as were the Trencavels. Old edicts, destined to isolate the Jews from their Christian surroundings, were exhumed. The Lateran council of 1215 prescribed a special badge to be worn by Jews; and this order, although little observed in other places, was rigorously enforced in Carcassonne, which was the seat of the Inquisition.

Under Louis IX.

In 1226, when Amaury de Montfort transferred Carcassonne to Louis VIII., the condition of the Jews grew worse. Under the administration of royal officers they became the prey of the avarice of thegovernment. St. Louis (Louis IX.), who did not favor the Jews in general, was especially embittered against those of Carcassonne for their participation in the uprising of 1240 in favor of Trencavel, when the latter was besieging the city. Thus, in 1246 St. Louis ordered the seneschal of Carcassonne to keep all the Jews in prison until they had paid a certain sum; at the same time freeing Christian debtors from their debts to Jews. In 1253 he banished all Jews from Carcassonne, but soon recalled them, probably at the request of the remaining inhabitants. St. Louis, however, issued an edict (1254) prohibiting them from performing Talmudical rites, from lending money on interest, from practising sorcery, and from engaging in monetary transactions.

The reign of Philip the Bold brought no change in their status. The policy inaugurated by his father and the clergy to isolate the Jews from their Christian surroundings continued. The synodal constitutions of Bernard of Capendu, bishop of Carcassonne in 1272, forbade the Jews to leave their houses during Holy Week, obliged them to rest on Sundays and Christian festivals, prohibited them from eating with Christians, and forbade Christians to employ Jewish physicians.

Under Philip the Fair.

The beginning of the reign of Philip the Fair promised relief to the Jews of Carcassonne. In 1288 he issued an ordinance forbidding the clergy to arrest Jews on any accusation without inquiry first being made by the seneschals. He also permitted the Jews to lend money at a moderate interest, and obliged their Christian debtors to pay their debts. It was soon evident that in this Philip was acting in his own interest: he wanted to enrich the Jews in order that he might derive more profit in plundering them. A system of impositions was inaugurated by him which drove away many Jews from Carcassonne: these sought a refuge in the dominions of various counts, in order to avoid being sent as captives to Paris on account of not having paid their taxes (1290-92). During this time Philip himself apportioned the contributions to be paid by the principal Jews of Carcassonne, instead of leaving the matter to the syndics or procurators of the community, who were responsible for the payment of the taxes. This régime brought misery to the once prosperous community through the total banishment of the Jews from France and the confiscation of their property (1306).

Louis X.

During the reign of Louis X. (1315) an important community was reestablished at Carcassonne. Joseph ha-Kohen ("Emeḳ ha-Baka," ed. Letteris, p. 73) includes it among the communities which had suffered from the persecutions of the Pastoureaux about 1320. Under Charles IV. the community or district of Carcassonne had to contribute the sum of 25,000 livres to the total tax of 180,000 livres imposed upon the Jews of France. In 1394 the Jews were again banished from France, and since then no Jewish community has existed at Carcassonne.

Men of Prominence.

Among the prominent men connected with Carcassonne the following may be mentioned: in the eleventh century, Joseph ben Solomon; in the twelfth century, Abraham ben David of Posquières (RABaD) and Meïr ben Isaac of Trinquetaille; in the thirteenth, Elijah ben Isaac of Carcassonne, Samuel ben Solomon Nassi of Carcassonne, Abraham ben Isaac Ḥayyim of Carcassonne, Solomon ben Jacob, Mordecai ben Isaac Ezobi, and David ben Nathanel. Among the noted physicians of Carcassonne were Isaac, Jacob of Lunel, Dollan Bellan, and Leon Joseph, all of the fourteenth century.

  • Bourges, Histoire de Carcassonne, p. 565;
  • Gustave Saige, Les Juifs du Languedoc, pp. 78 et seq.;
  • Depping, Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age;
  • Bédarride, Les Juifs en France, en Espagne, et en Italie, p. 237;
  • Gross, Gallia Judaica, pp. 613 et seq.
G. I. Br.
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