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Sixtus IV°

SIXTUS IV° (b. Francesco della Rovere; 1414–1484), pope from 1471 to 1484. In Italy the reign of Sixtus IV marks a high point of tolerance. The pope used Jewish physicians, and perhaps employed Jews for the collection, copying, and translation of Hebrew works. He refused to canonize Simon of *Trent, allegedly a victim of Jewish ritual murder. It is clear, however, that the pope's tolerance was offset, outside his own domains, by local hostility. A generous bull of 1479 concerning the Jews of *Avignon was questioned and subsequently withdrawn. In November 1478 the pope issued a bull investing *Ferdinand and Isabella with extraordinary powers to appoint inquisitors in all parts of Castile. In January 1482 he condemned the excessive harshness with which they were carrying out their task, in a letter to the king and queen. Six chief inquisitors were appointed, including the notorious Tomás de *Torquemada (Feb. 11, 1482), and invested with discretionary powers (April 17, 1482). The next year, yielding to pressure from King Ferdinand, the pope placed Torquemada at the head of the *Inquisition in Castile and Aragon.


E.A. Synan, Popes and Jews in the Middle Ages (1965), 140ff.; P. Lamberti, in: REJ, 10 (1885), 170ff.; L. Bardinet, ibid., 6 (1883), 9, 18f.

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