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SAVOY (Fr. Savoie), formerly a county and then a duchy, reunited with France in 1860, includes the present departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie in S.E. France. A Jewish inscription of 688 from *Narbonne, mentioning a Jew named Sapaudus, may be the first evidence of the presence of Jews in that region. Formal proofs of Jewish settlement in Savoy date only from the second half of the 13th century (the assertion that Jews were in Savoy after the expulsion from France in 1182 has no documentary basis, not even in Emek ha-Bakha of *Joseph ha-Kohen). Jews were to be found not only in Chambéry, but particularly in the following places (not including those which belonged to Savoy only temporarily): Aiguebelle, Montmélian, Rumilly, Yenne, Saint-Genix. Noteworthy is the place name "Lac des Juifs" near Chambéry. In almost all these places the Jews suffered bloody persecution in 1348 on the charge of spreading the *Black Death; even those who survived were robbed of all their goods.

The expulsion of the Jews from France in 1394 led to their emigrating into Savoy again. In 1417 the first investigation of Jewish books was entrusted to two converted Jews. Moreover, for many years the dukes had favored proselytizing activities, guaranteeing comfortable subsidies to new Christians. This was probably the persecution that Joseph ha-Kohen noted in 1394 and which he attributed to the preaching of Vicente *Ferrer; in fact, he notes having seen "a book of tattered appearance because it was one of those which the Jews, in those unhappy days, kept hidden at the bottom of wells until their torment was over." There was a fresh investigation into Jewish books in 1426 (this time directed by the inquisitor Ponce Feugerons), which resulted in the Jews pledging to delete the prohibited passages he had listed. The statutes promulgated by Duke Amadeus in 1430 reflect this general hostility by forcing the Jews to reside in a separate quarter ("Judeazimus") and wear a distinctive badge, and forbidding them to mingle with Christians on Christian festivals. There was another investigation of Jewish books in 1466, as well as of a series of other accusations – committing murders, practicing abortions, magic, and sorcery, and publicly insulting the duke. The investigation of books was again entrusted to a converted Jew, the physician Louis of Nice, a man whom the duke had favored for more than 20 years. Criminal proceedings were abandoned, however, despite numerous witnesses for the prosecution, when the Jews paid a very heavy fine.

From then on there is no further evidence of the presence of Jews in Savoy, except at Chambéry; it is therefore probable that their departure – voluntary or forced – resulted from these criminal proceedings. Joseph ha-Kohen dates the banishment of the Jews from Savoy to 1461. The existence of the Jewish community of Chambéry up to the beginning of the 16th century was recorded by the Jewish scholar Gershom *Soncino, who lived there at the time. There were a number of important Jewish doctors, some of them converts.


Gross, Gal Jud, 639f., 628; G. Sessa, Tractatus de Judaeis (1717); M.A. Gerson, in: REJ, 8 (1884), 235–42; A. Nord-mann, ibid., 83 (1927), 63–73; 84 (1927), 81–91; C.A. Costa de Beauregard, in: Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts de Savoie, series 2, 2 (1854), 81–126; S. Dufour and F. Rabut, in: Mémoires et documents publiés par la Société d'histoire et d'archéologie, 15 (1875), 3–28; M. Esposito, in: Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique, 34 (1938), 785–801; H. Merhavia, in: KS, 45 (1969/70), 590–606.

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