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

Sixtus IV

(1414 – 1484)

Pope Sixtus IV (b. Francesco della Rovere) was thepope 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 A generous bull of 1479 concerning the Jews of Avignon was questioned and subsequently withdrawn.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 (February 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  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.

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

Photo: Justus van Gent, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.