VALRÉAS, town in the department of Vaucluse, S.E. France. Evidence of the medieval Jewish community in Valréas is the result of the persecution to which it was subjected in 1247 in the wake of a *blood libel. A two-year-old child disappeared on March 26 before Passover; it was found on the next day with the traces of many wounds. The statements of two brothers, both young children, brought suspicion upon the Jews of the town. Three Jews who were imprisoned confessed, after seven days of torture, that they had perpetrated a ritual murder on the child. Six other Jews were then accused and subjected to torture; with the exception of one, they admitted all that their interrogators wished to hear. The cruel sentence that ensued appears to have struck an even larger number of the Jews of Valréas: some were quartered, others burnt alive; men were castrated, and women were mutilated by the ablation of their breasts. The bishop of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and the high constable of Valence confiscated all the possessions of the Jews under their administration and then imprisoned them. On the other hand, Pope *Innocent IV ordered the archbishop of Vienne to assure the protection of the Jews in two letters (May 28, 1247), two months after the beginning of the persecution. Some regard the decision of the Council of *Valence of 1248, which prohibited all relations between Christians and Jews, and the authorization which Pope Innocent IV granted to the archbishop of Vienne to expel the Jews from his diocese in 1253, as an aftermath of the Valréas affair. The assertion that the final expulsion of the Jews from Valréas took place in about 1570, which would imply that a new community was established, lacks documentary confirmation.
A. Molinier, in: Cabinet Historique, 29 (1883), 121–33; S. Grayzel, The Church and the Jews (19602), index; J. Bauer, in: REJ, 29 (1894), 254.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.