VITERBO


VITERBO, town in central Italy. Documents show Jews living in the town in 1272; in 1294 the loan-banker Elia resided there, and a few years later the number of Jews had increased to such an extent that in 1313 a Christian proposed setting up an institution that would collect all the Jews together to convert them. In the 14th century some of the moneylenders left Viterbo to found the settlement at Urbino and others moved to Orvieto. In 1427 the Franciscan friar Bernardino da *Siena delivered inflammatory sermons in Viterbo. The town came under the rule of the Church in 1435 and 15 years later the Jews were compelled to wear the *badge. In 1538 the banking permits were withdrawn. At that time, the Jews owned two synagogues and a medicinal spring called the "bath of the Jews." As in the other Church possessions, a ghetto was established in Viterbo in 1555, and the community leaders were thrown into prison. After Pius V was elected to the papacy, the Jews were expelled from all the minor cities of the papal states (1569). Ten families were readmitted to Viterbo in 1586, but in 1593 they were definitely banished. Later, Jewish merchants were allowed to visit the town only during the fair; at one of these, in 1705, a group of Jews were accused of a blood *libel but they were acquitted the following year. A number of notable copyists and physicians came from Viterbo, including the talmudist Theodorus de Sacerdotibus (Eliezer ha-Cohen), physician to Pope Julius III.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Milano, Italia, index; Roth, Italy, index: Milano, in: Scritti… Guido Bedarida (1966), 137–49; Roth, in: RMI, 20 (1954), 367–71.

[Attilio Milano]


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