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ROUSSILLON, region and former province in S. France, corresponding to the present department of Pyrénées-Orientales. In 1172 the county of Roussillon passed to the kings of Aragon and did not become a French possession again until 1642. Names of places such as the Iudegas quarter (territory of Clayra, township of Rivesaltes) or a Villa Iudaicas (near Sainte-Hippolyte), whose existence is confirmed from the 11th century, indicate that there were at that time some Jews in Roussillon. The first documentary evidence of the presence of Jews there, however, dates only from 1185 and concerns a Jew in *Perpignan. Jews lived in Elne, Collioure, Arles-sur-Tech, Banyuls-sur-Mer, Thuir, Céret, Salces, Ille-sur-Tet, Prades, Millas, and *Villefranche-de-Conflent. In 1243 a Jewish quarter, the Call, was set aside in Perpignan, and from 1251 Jews were compelled to live there. The communities of Thuir, Ille, and Céret (perhaps others too) had their own cemeteries, like *aljama of Perpignan. In 1276 the county of Roussillon was awarded to the king of Majorca, who exercised his authority over the Jews of Roussillon through the intermediary of the count. Subsequently the royal procurator was responsible for civil and criminal jurisdiction over the Jews of Roussillon. Until 1314, when the wearing of the *badge was imposed, the Jews wore a cape as a distinctive garment. Pedro IV of Aragon, who annexed the kingdom of Majorca (1344), authorized the Jews of Roussillon to travel to France for business purposes. In addition to engaging in such occupations as commerce (including peddling) and moneylending, Jews of Roussillon worked as bookbinders, tailors, goldsmiths, and especially as dyers. The anti-Jewish persecutions of 1391 in Spain reached the Jews of Roussillon in 1392. There was a similar delay of one year a century later at the time of the expulsion from Spain (1492), when a number of Jews from there sought refuge in Roussillon, only to be expelled in 1493, along with the Jews of Roussillon.


Gross, Gal Jud, 632f.; P. Vidal, in: REJ, 15 (1887), 19–55; 16 (1888), 1–23, 170–203; J.G. Gigot, in: Cerca. Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Catalanes des Archives, 30 (1965), 253–7.

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