LANGUEDOC


LANGUEDOC, former province of S.W. France, with *Toulouse as its capital. The presence of Jews in Languedoc is testified from at least the beginning of the sixth century, at *Agde. During the Middle Ages they were grouped in many prosperous communities, particularly in *Narbonne, *Montpellier, and Toulouse, as well as in *Béziers, *Carcassonne, *Pamiers, *Posquières (today Vauvert), *Lunel, *Nîmes, etc. The continued prevalence of Roman law, which also regulated the condition of the Jews throughout southern France and particularly in Languedoc, enabled them to obtain outright possession of real estate (in allodium) which they subsequently leased out. Therefore it occasionally occurred that ecclesiastical institutions were indebted to the Jews in this way. This situation prevailed until 1306. Jews frequently held public office, but from the early 13th century, with the strengthening of Church discipline as a result of the Crusade against the *Albigensian heretics and the seizure of Languedoc by the French crown, they were barred from these positions. In the subsequent confusion about which were crown rights and which belonged to the local lords (lay or ecclesiastical), there were frequent conflicts over the status of the Jews especially with regard to the possession of taxes imposed on them. In addition to local taxes, the Jews also paid special levies and poll taxes which were considerably increased under *Philip IV the Fair. Seeking to evade this situation, many Jews left the royal territory. In his effort to restrain them or bring them back, the king found an unexpected ally in the Jewish communal authorities; since the royal levies were raised from the community as a whole, the latter consequently endeavored to divide the burden among the largest possible number of members.

As a result of an extension of royal prerogative, the expulsion order of 1306 was also applied to the Jews of Languedoc; the opposition of the local lords to whom they had previously been subject was silenced by their receiving one or two thirds of the property seized. The extent of the confiscations can be measured by the fact that in the seneschalship of Toulouse alone (where the least wealthy Jewish communities were situated) property to the value of over 75,000 livres was expropriated. Exiles from Languedoc found refuge in *Provence, Catalonia, and *Roussillon, and in the latter province the town of *Perpignan in particular took in large numbers. When the Jews were recalled to France in 1315, a sizable group must have returned to Languedoc, as evidenced by the number who fell victim to the *Pastoureaux in 1320, and also by the amount of their contribution to the fine of 100,000 livres which was imposed on the Jews of France by *Philip V the Tall. They continued to pay this fine under *Charles IV the Fair until the new expulsion order was applied in 1323. However when the Jews were readmitted to France once more in 1359, comparatively few returned to Languedoc. Although they escaped the persecutions prevalent in the north in 1380 and 1382, in several towns in Languedoc they were nevertheless continually harassed by being compelled to move from the quarter assigned to them. With the final expulsion, decreed in 1394 and enforced in 1395, most of the Jews of Languedoc left for Comtat *Venaissin and Provence, only a few going to Spain on this occasion.

During the 16th century, some *Marranos found refuge in Languedoc and settled mainly in Narbonne, Pézenas, Montpellier, and Béziers. Unlike those in *Bordeaux and other southwestern towns, these groups did not remain faithful to Judaism. From the 18th century, Jews from Bordeaux and the southwest, and more from *Avignon and Comtat Venaissin, traded in Languedoc. Some attempted to settle in a few towns but many more attended the fairs of *Alès, Nîmes, Montpellier, Toulouse, and *Beaucaire. They dealt mainly in old clothes, although they also traded in silk, jewelry, and precious metals, and had practically a monopoly of the livestock trade in Languedoc. When the representations of some merchants exposed them to harassment by the authorities, the local population supported the Jews. From the last third of the 18th century, Jews first settled in Narbonne and then in Toulouse, Nîmes, and other towns, without encountering any further opposition. For the scholars of Languedoc see the articles on the separate localities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Gross, Gal Jud, 311; G. Saige, Juifs du Languedoc… (1881); C. Bloch, in: REJ, 24 (1892), 272–80; N. Roubin, ibid., 34 (1897), 276–93; 35 (1897), 91–105; 36 (1898), 75–100; S. Kahn, ibid., 67 (1914), 231; E. Le Roy-Ladurie, Paysans de Languedoc, 1 (1966), 109–10; L. Dutil, Etat économique du Languedoc… 1750–1789 (1911), index; S. Grayzel, in: HJ, 17 (1955), 89–120; B. Blumenkranz et al., in: Archives Juives, 5 (1968/69), 32–40, 47–55; Y. Dossat, ibid., 6 (1969/70), 4–5, 32–33.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.