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Anjou, France

Anjou (Heb. אניו) is an ancient province and former duchy in western France. In the Middle Ages the Jews of Anjou lived mainly in Angers, the capital, and in Baugé, Saumur, Segré, and perhaps also in the hamlets called Rue-Juif, 3 mi. (5 km.) northeast of Saumur, and La Juiverie, 3 mi. (5 km.) west of Baugé. Near Fontevrault there was a "Jew's mill."

The principal occupations of the Jews of Anjou, commerce and pawnbroking, are referred to in the customs tariffs of Saumur in 1162 and of Les Ponts-de-Cé near Fontevrault in 1177, and in the 13th-century custumal of Anjou. Records from the middle of the 11th century show that Joseph b. Samuel Bonfils (Tov Elem) had the title "rabbi of the communities of Limousin and Anjou."

Some rabbis of Anjou took part in a synod convened in the middle of the 12th century by Jacob b. Meir (Rabbenu Tam) and Samuel b. Meir. In 1236, many of the Jews of Anjou, Poitou, and Brittany were massacred during a wave of persecutions; others consented under threat of violence to convert to Christianity (see anusim ). In 1269, and later, Charles I, count of Anjou, exacted considerable sums of money from the Anjou communities, then numbering less than one thousand persons, represented by Moses, their "syndic and commissioner." On the whole, however, the position of the Jews in Anjou was favorable. They were exempted from wearing the Jewish badge, permitted to live in any place with more than 120 households, to engage in commerce, and to give loans on interest, using deeds stamped with the court seal. However on December 8, 1289, shortly after his accession, Charles II ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Anjou and from Maine. It was alleged that they practiced usury in a scandalous manner, had sexual relationships with Christian women, and were turning Christians from their faith. In compensation for the loss of revenues involved, Charles levied an indemnity from the province. The Jews apparently returned to Anjou after 1359 (cf. custumal of 1385), in particular to Angers, staying there until the general expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394.


Gross, Gal Jud, 64ff; Brunschvicg, in: REJ, 29 (1894), 229 ff.; P. Marchegay, Archives d'Anjou, 2 (1849), 263, 257; C.J. Beautemps-Beaupré, Coutumes… Anjou 1, pt. 1 (1877), 52, 151 ff., 335; Ibn Verga, Shevet Yehudah, ed. by A. Shohet and Y. Baer (1947), 148; A. de Bouard, Actes… Charles Ier (1926), 25, 83 ff., 173 ff., 258 ff.; P. Rangeard, Histoire Universelle d'Angers, ed. by A. Lemarchand, 2 (1877), 183 ff.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.