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Catanzaro, Italy

CATANZARO, town in Calabria, southern Italy. Jews were apparently invited to Catanzaro in 1073, under Robert Guis-card, to introduce mulberry cultivation and silk spinning; subsequently Catanzaro became the most important silk-producing center in Italy. From Norman times the Jews were forced to wear the red badge and pay special taxes. When in 1417 the town rebelled against the local administration, the Jews seized the opportunity to demand concessions from Queen Joanna of Naples, including the abolishment of the Jewish badge and exemption from taxes. The concessions granted by Queen Joanna gave them almost complete equality with the Christians. A controversy regarding tax payments between the town and the Jews ended in 1454 when King Alfonso ruled in favor of the Jews. In 1456 the king transferred the Jews from episcopal jurisdiction to that of the Civic Tribunal headed by a lay official. During the baronial revolt against King Ferrante I, the Jews were compensated for their loyalty to the king and in 1466 were accorded various privileges, including complete freedom from the jurisdiction of the bishop. Other privileges were accorded in 1476. The favorable conditions they enjoyed attracted Jews from other localities, thus increasing the size of the Jewish population. The Catanzaro community suffered along with other communities of Calabria between 1494 and 1495 during the invasion of King Charles VIII. In 1495 the synagogue of Catanzaro was transformed into a church and dedicated to St. Stefano. The former synagogue is mentioned in two bulls of Pope Alexander VI. The community was expelled in 1510 during the general expulsion of Jews from Calabria.


N. Ferorelli, Ebrei nell'Italia meridionale dall'età romana al secolo XVIII (1915; repr. 1990), passim; Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Mascaro, "Ebrei nel circondario di Catanzaro dal XIII al XVI secolo: insediamenti ed attività economiche e commerciali," in: Annuario de Studi Ebraici, 11 (1988), 85–113.

[Ariel Toaff /

Nadia Zeldes (2nd ed.)]

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