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Champagne, France

CHAMPAGNE (Heb. קנפניא), region and former province, Northeast France. Champagne attracted numerous Jewish settlements at a relatively early date. In the 13th century Jews were living throughout the province, especially in Bar-sur-Aube, *Bray-sur-Seine , *Châlons-sur-Marne , *Château-Thierry , Châtillon-sur-Marne, *Dampierre-sur-Aube , *Epernay , *Joigny , Joinville, *Montereau-faut-Yonne , *Provins , *Rheims , *Sens , and *Troyes . Their chief occupation was moneylending, with the feudal lords and the monasteries as their principal clients. Wealthiest of the moneylenders in the late 12th and early 13th century was the Jew Cresselin of Provins. In 1192 Philip Augustus and Count Thibaut of Champagne concluded the first agreement between the king of France and a feudal lord to stop the mutual purloining of "their" Jews. The counts of Champagne took the precaution of keeping in their own hands jurisdiction over the Jews in the charters of freedom granted to various towns. As Champagne was not incorporated in the kingdom of France until 1286, the Jews there were unaffected by the expulsion of 1182, but they did not escape that of 1306. Though some Jews were found in Champagne between 1315 and 1321, they do not appear to have returned after 1359 (except for a few converts to Christianity). The great centers of Jewish learning in Champagne during the Middle Ages were notably Troyes, the seat of the activity of Rashi, whose commentaries illustrate the wide commercial horizons and personal contacts of the local Jewish communities, and Lhuître, Dampierre, Ramerupt, and Sens.


F. Borquelot, Etudes sur les foires de Champagne (1865), 102–54; Gross, Gal Jud, 599–601; M. Poinsignon, Histoire générale de la Champagne, 3 (1885), 150, 190; A. Longnon, Documents… Champagne (1904), passim; Roth, Dark Ages, 152–4 and index.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]

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