URBINO, town in central Italy, formerly capital of an independent duchy. The earliest record of Jews dates from the beginning of the 14th century, when Daniel of Viterbo was authorized to trade and open a loan bank. His family long continued to head the community. Other loan bankers, ultimately eight in number, received authorization to operate later. However, in 1468 a monte di *pieta was established in Urbino in order to restrict Jewish activities. In the 15th century the dukes of the house of Montefeltro favored Jewish scholars and were interested in Jewish scholarship; Federico II collected Hebrew manuscripts. When the duchy passed to the Della Rovere family in 1508, they enacted a more severe policy, not rigidly enforced. Hebrew books were burned in Urbino in 1553 and in 1570 the ghetto was introduced, with all the accompanying indignities. The degraded status of the Jews was confirmed when the duchy of Urbino passed under papal rule in 1631. At this time there were 369 Jews (64 families) in the town, a number that steadily decreased thereafter. In 1717 they were mostly poverty-stricken; many houses in the ghetto were empty, and the synagogue itself was partly owned by non-Jews. There was a temporary improvement with the invasion of the French revolutionary armies, but during the reaction of 1798 anti-Jewish excesses took place. Papal rule, with the accompanying degradation, was reestablished with intervals from 1814 to 1860, when Urbino was annexed to the kingdom of Italy and full emancipation automatically followed. Nevertheless the community continued to decline in number and now is virtually extinct.
Milano, Bibliotheca, index; Milano, Italia, index; C. Roth, Personalities and Events in Jewish History (1953), 275–82; Vitaletti, in: Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 85 (1925), 98–105; G. Luzzatto, Banchieri ebrei in Urbino … (1902).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.