LEWKO (or Lewek), JORDANIS


LEWKO (or Lewek), JORDANIS (d. 1395), the wealthiest Jew of Cracow (and Poland) in his time; he acted as court banker of the kings of Poland. The son of a wealthy merchant and owner of real estate who lived in Cracow from about 1324, Lewko is mentioned in documents of the early 1360s as the owner of houses and building plots in the city. He apparently amassed great wealth in dealing with these properties and began to lend money to the townsmen and the feudal lords (among others to the princes of Masovia).

King Casimir III the Great, who put much confidence in him, entrusted him with the administration of the royal salt mines of Bochnia and Wieliczka and the mint of Cracow in 1368. In appreciation of his services, the king presented him with two houses in the Jewish quarter of Cracow. Lewko, who also acted as tax collector for Archbishop Bodzanta, who was in charge of the royal estate in Cracow, aroused the anger of the townsmen (1369), but their complaints were rejected by the king. From 1374 Lewko was assisted in the administration of his local affairs by the Jewish agent Gosma. At the same time he entered into partnership with Jewish bankers and merchants in Cracow in order to carry out large loans and commercial dealings. During the early 1380s he opened commercial relations with the Jewish banker of Breslau, David Falken, and his son Israel (or Azriel). The greatest sums of money which Lewko lent were his loans to King Louis I of Hungary and Poland (Louis of Anjou). His financial power and influence at court led the nobleman Clemens of Kuzow to address a complaint against him to Pope Boniface IX (1392). Lewko's heirs were his widow Swenka, his sons Abraham, Canaan, Jordan, and Israel, and his daughter Golda. For about 15 years the heirs worked together in order to collect the debts owed. After that, each managed his business affairs independently. Of Lewko's grandsons Jordan ranked among the leaders of the community of Cracow in 1465.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

I. Schiper, Studya nad stosunkami gospodarczymi Żydów w Posce podczas średniowiecza (1911), 115–26; M. Balaban, Historja, Żydow w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1 (1931), 17–23; S. Kutrzeba, in: Przewodnik naukowo-literacki (1901), 1155.

[Arthur Cygielman]


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