Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Pope Clement

By Solomon Grayzel

Clement IV

Clement was the name of 14 popes and three antipopes. The antipope CLEMENT III, who claimed the apostolic throne between 1080 and 1100, protested strongly when Emperor Henry IV permitted Jews who had become converted to Christianity during the anti-Jewish riots of the First Crusade to revert to Judaism. The recognized CLEMENT III (1187–91) reissued the bull Sicut Judaeis, protecting the Jews at the time of the Third Crusade. CLEMENT IV (1265–68) not only approved the condemnation and banishment of Naḥmanides after his public disputation at Barcelona with the apostate Pablo Christiani (though he forbade his execution or mutilation), but by his bull Turbato corde, reiterated by several of his successors, increased the powers of the Inquisition to track down converts who had reverted to Judaism, including those forced to convert on peril of their lives.

CLEMENT VI (1342–52), one of the Avignon popes, showed favor to the Jews on several occasions, although he enforced the wearing of the badge . He granted the Jews of Seville permission to build a new synagogue (1342), on the grounds that they had been helpful in the struggle against the Muslims. He advised against the expulsion of the Jews from Dauphin . Above all, he did all in his power, in a number of bulls issued in 1348–49, to protect the Jews against the charges of well-poisoning which were rife at the time of the Black Death, and against the rioting Flagellants who roamed throughout Europe.

CLEMENT VII (1523–34) was impressed by the messianic claims of Solomon Molcho and by David Reuveni. In 1530, he extended privileges to Jewish physicians, especially Samuel Sarfatti. He tried to ameliorate the lot of Spanish and Portuguese Marranos (1533, 1534) and the Jews in the Comtat-Venaissin. In 1530, he allowed the Ashkenazi Jews of Mantua to open their own synagogue. However, when preparations were being made for another war against the Turks, he imposed an additional heavy tax on the Jews of the Papal States.

By the time of CLEMENT VIII (1592–1605), the situation of the Jews had undergone a radical change. The limitation of Jewish residence to Rome, Ancona, and Avignon in the Comtat (1593); their enforced attendance at conversionist sermons; the prohibition against their dealing in new articles of clothing; the repeated condemnation of the Talmud, copies of which were publicly burned on January 14, 1601, all indicated the repressive climate of the time. Yet Clement reduced the tax of the Roman Jewish community by one-third.

CLEMENT X (1670–76) left the Jews alone on the whole, even protecting them during riotous carnivals. CLEMENT XII (1730–40) ordered Hebrew books to be confiscated once more (1731), but he tried to lighten the Jewish financial burden to some degree (1732). Of greatest interest in the pontificate of CLEMENT XIII (1758–69) was his concern with the blood libel then being leveled against the Jews in Poland. In 1758, this problem had been brought by a delegate of Polish Jewry, Jacob Selig, to the attention of his predecessor, Benedict XIV, who had requested the Holy Office of the Inquisition to make an investigation. This body had entrusted the task to one of its members, Fra. (later Cardinal) Ganganelli. The latter’s report, emphatically condemning the libel, was submitted shortly after his accession to Pope Clement XIII, who instructed Ganganelli to draw up instructions for the papal nuncio in Warsaw in accordance with his conclusions. Ganganelli was himself later elected pope as CLEMENT XIV (1769–74). He was deeply concerned with the economic condition of the Roman Jews, accorded them a certain liberty of occupation, and freed them from the immediate jurisdiction of the Inquisition. He also showed marked favor to the Roman Jewish leader Alessandro Ambron.


E. Rodocanachi, Le Saint-Siège et les Juifs (1891); Vogelstein-Rieger, index; C. Roth, The Ritual Murder Libel and the Jews (1935); DHGE, 12 (1953), 1096ff.

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

Photo: Véronique PAGNIER, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.