CORCOS ( or ):

A family whose history can be traced back to the end of the thirteenth century, and members of which are still living in Gibraltar and Morocco. The name first appears in Spain; but it was only in the two centuries following the expulsion of the Jews from that country that the family rose to distinction, in Italy, its new home. Here it was considered one of the most distinguished families of the country, owing to the culture, piety, and wealth of its members. Although the family pedigree, as given herewith on the authority of Vogelstein and Rieger, is in some points only conjectural, yet it may still be safely assumed that all who bear the name of "Corcos" in Italy belong to one family. On the other hand, the relationship of these to others of the name in Spain has not as yet been ascertained.

It is alleged that the family originated at a place called "Corcos," which, however, can not be satisfactorily identified. Some scholars therefore think that the name is a corruption of "Carcassonne," a place in southern France. Doubtful, likewise, is the statement made by Christian scholars that one branch of the family embraced the Christian faith in the sixteenth century and attained high distinction.

  • Bartolocci, Bibliotheca Rabbinica, iii. 821-827;
  • Berliner, Aus Schweren Zeiten, in the Hildesheimer Jubelschrift, pp. 162-163;
  • Steinschneider, in Hebr. Bibl. xi. 71-72;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, ii. 101-108.
1. Abraham Corcos:

The earliest known member of the family, father of Solomon Corcos (No. 14). He flourished in Spain in the second half of the thirteenth century.

2. David Corcos:

Ancestor of the Corcos family in Italy; went in 1492 from Castile to Rome, where his son Solomon (No. 15) afterward became rabbi (Vogelstein and Rieger, l.c. p. 101).

3. Donna Corcos:

Daughter of Solomon. About 1585 Lazaro da Viterbo dedicated to her his translation of the "Me'on ha-Sho'alim" (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1987).

4. Elijah ben Solomon Corcos:

Italian financier; flourished about the middle of the sixteenth century. In conjunction with his brother Joshua (No. 9), he opened a banking establishment in Rome June 11, 1537. He took part in the conference held by the Jewish bankers on that day, the object of which was to fix certain business usages which were to form the basis of an arrangement with Christian bankers.

He was an active member of the congregation in Rome, the financial affairs of which, especially in relations with the authorities, were entrusted to him. Thus (July 20, 1558) he engaged to pay to the papal vicariate 1,000 scudi in three instalments, this sum having been imposed as a fine upon the congregation because, a few days after the seizure of the Hebrew books by the officers of the Inquisition, a copy of Ibn Ezra's Commentary to the Pentateuch was found. So likewise the tax upon the congregation, which had been fixed at 360 ducats by Paul III., was paid by Elijah and two other Jewish bankers. Similarly, the tax on the congregation of Benevent, amounting to 35 scudi in gold, was handed to the authorities by Elijah on Jan. 31, 1542.

It seems that Elijah lived to an advanced age; for in 1581 he is still found as one of the delegates of the congregation who were appointed to confer with the tax-farmers of Romagna, Lombardy, and Tuscany concerning the security which the congregation in Rome was to furnish for them.

Elijah was also a rabbinical scholar; whose decisions, in his own handwriting, are still extant ("Revue Etudes Juives," x. 185). His identity with Elijah Corcos, the physician referred to by David de Pomis in the preface to his "Ẓemaḥ Dawid" (fourth line from foot), is, however, doubtful. Elijah had two sons, Isaac and Moses.

  • Berliner, Aus Schweren Zeiten, in the Hildesheimer Jubelschrift, pp. 150-160;
  • idem, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, pp. 9-10;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. pp. 112-118.
5. Hezekiah Manoah Corcos:

Rabbi and Talmudist; born about 1580; died about 1650. In 1620 Hezekiah was appointed rabbi of the congregation in Rome, which position he held till his death. Though he shared his functions with A. di Iscario, D. della Rocca, and S. Castelnuovo, he was the dominant spirit; and it was through him that the rabbinate recovered to some extent its former importance. When, in 1629, an inquisition of Hebrew books was ordered in Modena, Hezekiah addressed a letter to Pelegrin Sanguinetti, calling his attention to the papal brief dated April 17, 1593, and to the decree of the Index Committee issued Aug. 29, 1596 (Stern, "Urkundliche Beiträge," p. 181).

Hezekiah was regarded as one of the foremost Talmudists of his day; and the few fragments of his literary activity found in the contemporary responsa literature show him to have been a very clever casuist (compare, for instance, ShabbethaiBeër in "Osheḳ," No. 10). When Nathaniel Trabotti, through his work on ritual baths ("Miḳwa'ot"), called forth a number of controversial articles, it was Hezekiah who allayed the excitement by supporting Trabotti. A daughter of Hezekiah was married to Isaac Corcos, from which union sprang Hezekiah Manoah Ḥayyim Corcos (No. 6).

  • Berliner, Vogelstein and Rieger, as above.
Genealogical Tree of the Corcos Family.(From Vogelstein and Rieger, "Gesch. der Juden in Rom," ii. 106.)

Dates, unless otherwise indicated (i.e., b. for "born," d. for "died") are such as are mentioned in documents concerning the respective members of the family.

6. Hezekiah Manoah Ḥayyim b. Isaac Corcos (in Italian, Tranquillo Vita):

Italian rabbi, physician, and scholar; born in Rome 1660; died there Jan. 13, 1730. Hezekiah, who, on his mother's side, was a grandson of Hezekiah Manoah (No. 5), and, on his father's, a nephew of Raphael Corcos (No. 10), early distinguished himself both as physician and preacher. His activity in the affairs of the congregation began with his election to membership on Aug. 12, 1692. Until the day of his death he worked untiringly in the interest both of his own congregation and of all the Italian Jews. The honorable title by which he was known, "Leader of the Age," was no exaggeration. Indeed, the history of the Jews in Rome from 1692 to 1730 is the history of Hezekiah Manoah.

His first important act was his stand against the convert Paolo Medici, who delivered anti-Jewish-speeches in the churches and in the public squares of Leghorn, Pisa, Florence, and Bologna. In the last-named city these addresses led to bodily assaults. Corcos then published a memorial (Rome, 1692), addressed to the congregation of the Holy Office, refuting the charges of hatred against Christianity brought by Medici, explaining correctly the derided sayings of the sages, and directing attention with special emphasis to the fact that Medici's writings had already been several times suppressed by theecclesiastical authorities. Another work by Corcos, written in 1698 or thereabouts, but not printed, was his memorial to the pope regarding the high rents which the Jews in the Roman ghetto had to pay in consequence of the papal edicts; the result of the memorial was that Innocent XII. ordered a reduction amounting to 12 per cent. In his "Informatione" (Rome, 1699) he attempted to show that every Jew had the right to dispose freely of his fortune by will; this right having been disputed by Christians in order to prevent converts being disinherited.

Great excitement was caused in Italy by the arrest in Viterbo (1705) of five Jews on a blood accusation, such charges having never before been preferred in Rome or its vicinity. Corcos came forward with his "Memoriale" (Rome, 1705), addressed to Monsignore Ghezzi, the papal reporter on Jewish affairs, wherein he demonstrated the groundlessness of the accusation. In addition to this, Corcos (ib. 1706) wrote a "Summarium," in which he produced documents, relating to the blood accusation, from secular and ecclesiastical authorities; and also a "Memoriale Addizionale," in which he presented additional material concerning the historical treatment of this subject. Of apologetic character is his "Spiegazione" (Rimini, 1713), which was written at the request of the inquisitor-general, and deals with the question whether the "mezuzah" serves superstitious purposes. Corcos, of course, denied this, and advanced instead a theory of angels, which reveals him as an adherent of the Cabala of Luria. This is also seen in his founding various mystical societies for private worship.

Aside from this, however, Corcos' activity in Rome, where he filled the office of rabbi from April 9, 1702, was highly beneficial. In consequence of his petition to the "Tribunal of Grace," the sale of meat in the ghetto was regulated, and the Jews were permitted to sell to non-Jews the meat which was forbidden to themselves. In 1727 he submitted to the Inquisition a memorial concerning Hebrew books. It should also be mentioned that Corcos brought about in 1719 the use of Italian in keeping the communal records, Hebrew having formerly been employed.

Corcos, who in point of secular education had no equal among the Jews of his time, was also considered a high rabbinical authority, as is shown by his decisions in the contemporary rabbinical literature, many of which are still extant. Apart from his works discussed above, in all of which he pursued some practical object, Corcos wrote a philosophic treatise for Purim, "Discorso" (Rome, 1710), in which he develops the pragmatic history of Esther and Mordecai; parts of it were recited by pupils of the academy at the Purim celebration. He left behind him an only son, Samuel Ḥayyim (died April, 1731), an active and noted member of the congregation, who wrote an introduction to his father's "Discorso."

  • Berliner, Vogelstein and Rieger, as above;
  • Steinschneider, in Monatsschrift, xliii. 517-529, 563-564;
  • Nepi-Ghirondi, Toledot Gedole Yisrael, p. 105;
  • Kaufmann, in Revue Etudes Juives, xxvi. 268-270.
7. Isaac Corcos:

According to some authorities, the earliest known bearer of the name in Italy. Bartolocci records the Hebrew inscription on his tomb, which is dated Laterna, 1448. This reading must, however, be wrong, as the Corcos family probably did not go to Italy until after 1492; though the name Isaac is frequently found in the family.

8. Joseph Corcos:

Spanish Talmudist; flourished at the end of the fifteenth century and in the first half of the sixteenth. Joseph left Spain as a youth, presumably in consequence of the expulsion of the Jews, and settled in Palestine. Here he occupied a high rank among the scholars of the day. David Abi Zimra, Joseph Caro, and Joseph Trani speak of him as a rabbinical authority of the first rank. He wrote a commentary on Maimonides' "Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah," which Joseph Caro had before him when he was writing his own commentary on that work. A small portion of it only has been printed (Smyrna, 1757; reprinted in the Warsaw ed. of the "Yad"), under the title "Hai Safra debe Rab," which work furnishes ample testimony of the author's wide scholarship and critical mind. Some of Joseph's responsa were published by Azulai in his "Ḥayyim Sha'al II.," Leghorn, 1792-95. The treatises containing his detailed studies of the "Yad," to which the Oriental scholars of the seventeenth century had access, seem to have been lost. Corcos must have reached an advanced age; for, as his responsa in Joseph Caro's "Abḳat Rokel" show (No. 200, erroneously ascribed to Caro), he was still living when Caro's "Bet Yosef" appeared. He must have died after 1575, to judge from a remark of Ibn Yaḥya in "Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah" (ed. Warsaw, p. 88; compare also Sambari in Neubauer's "Med. Jew. Chron." i. 140).

Not to be confounded with this Joseph Corcos is the Italian of the same name, author of the homiletico-exegetic work "Yosef Ḥen" (Leghorn, 1825), and compiler of a little volume entitled "Shi'ur Ḳomah" (ib. 1825?), containing readings taken principally from the Zohar.

  • Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, i. 83;
  • Conforte, Ḳore ha-Dorot, ed. Cassel, p. 37a;
  • Fuenn, Keneset Yisrael, p. 803.
9. Joshua ben Solomon Corcos:

Italian banker of the sixteenth century. In conjunction with his brother Elijah (No. 4), he carried on an extensive banking business in Rome, which they had established in 1537. A century afterward Manasseh ben Israel could still point to the great wealth of the firm, which in 1656 represented the sum of 700,000 crowns. Joshua was an active member of the congregation; and as such, on March 16, 1558, acted as the representative of the united synagogues of Castiglione and Zafartine in the drafting with the united synagogues of Catalonia and Aragone of a deed of partnership in the use of certain synagogal utensils. Significant also is the compact drawn up by Joshua between the Jewish and the Christian tailors in regard to the manufacture of certain articles of attire. In more than one respect this document is highly interesting, but especially from the fact that the idea of a tailors' union was suggested by the Christians, who were aiming at common business methods with the Jews.

  • Berliner, Aus Schweren Zeiten, pp. 159-160.
10. Raphael Corcos:

Italian rabbi; died about 1692. He seems to have succeeded his kinsmanHezekiah Manoah (No. 5) as rabbi. After the death of the latter he was the real representative of the Corcos family. This is why his nephew Hezekiah Manoah Ḥayyim held no office in the congregation during Raphael's lifetime, as the presence of uncle and nephew in the same rabbinate would not have been looked upon with favor. Corcos is to be distinguished from his namesake who was rabbi in Padua about 1620. The latter is mentioned by Isaac Cantarini ("Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ," p. 106) as a noted scholar.

  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, ii. 106-107.
11. Samuel Corcos:

Italian rabbi of the first half of the seventeenth century. He was rabbi at Sinigaglia, where he delivered the funeral sermon at the burial of Mordecai Graziani, father of Abraham Joseph Graziani (Nov. 7, 1643).

  • Jona, in Revue Etudes Juives, iv. 113;
  • Kaufmann, in Monatsschrift, xxxix. 352-353.
12. Solomon Corcos:

Spanish Talmudist; flourished at the beginning of the fifteenth century. A responsum by Zerahiah ha-Levi, a disciple of Ḥasdai Crescas, addressed to Corcos, is included in the responsa collection of Solomon ben Abraham Adret, v. 166 (Halberstamm, in "Hebr. Bibl." xii. 42).

13. Solomon Corcos:

Converted Jew, who is said to have embraced Christianity in 1573. Bartolocci states ("Bibliotheca Rabbinica," iii. 821) that, under Pope Gregory XIII., Corcos, together with his son Lazaro, became a Christian, and in consequence received titles and honors. He also identifies them with Ugo and Gregory, who, according to a papal "motu proprio" of the year 1582, the text of which he cites, were raised to the nobility. Proof of the correctness of this assertion, however, is wanting. It is certain that neither Solomon ben David (No. 15) nor his grandson Solomon ben Joshua, an active member of the congregation in Rome as late as 1574, is identical with the convert referred to by Bartolocci.

  • Berliner, Aus Schweren Zeiten, in Hildesheimer Jubelschrift, p. 162.
14. Solomon b., Abraham Corcos:

Spanish Biblical scholar; flourished in the first third of the fourteenth century. He was a disciple of Judah ben Asher, and wrote in Avila (Aug., 1331) a commentary to Israeli's "Yesod 'Olam," the manuscripts of which commentary are now in the libraries of Munich and Turin.

  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. xi. 71;
  • idem, in Katalog der Hebrüischen Handschriften in der Königliche Hof- und Staats-Bibliothek in München, Nos. 33, 3; 43, 10; 261, 1;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, as above.
15. Solomon ben David Corcos:

Italian rabbi in the sixteenth century. He was by birth a Spaniard, but, owing to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, went to Rome with his father. As early as 1536 he appears as rabbi; afterward, in 1540, 1542, as . The father of Donna Corcos is not identical with Solomon ben David; since Viterbo, in his work "Me'on ha-Sho'alim," which appeared about 1585, speaks of Solomon, Donna's father, as one still living; while Solomon ben David, in a record of March 16, 1558, is spoken of as deceased.

  • Berliner, l.c. p. 159.
16. Yom-Ṭob Corcos:

Spanish rabbi; flourished in Monzon at the beginning of the fifteenth century. He was one of the Jewish delegates at the disputation of Tortosa in 1413. Ibn Verga, who reports this fact, writes the name in his "Shebeṭ Yehudah" (ed. Wiener, p. 68) as , which is probably only a variant of (Corcos).

  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. xi. 71;
  • Jew. Quart. Rev. xii. 148.
G. L. G.