VITRY (le-Brûlé, today Vitry-en-Perthois, not to be confused with Vitry-le-François) town in the department of Marne, N. France. When Louis VII, king of France, sacked the town in 1142, he is said to have spared the Jews, who therefore constituted the majority of the population for a while. In 1230, when Thibaut IV, count of Champagne, granted a communal charter to Vitry, he retained for himself the "guard and jurisdiction" over a number of categories of its inhabitants, particularly the Jews. In 1321, after having been accused of poisoning the wells together with the lepers, 77 Jews were immediately massacred, a large number succeeded in escaping, and another 40 were imprisoned. Once the prisoners realized the hopelessness of their situation, they chose death at the hands of one of their companions, who was then killed by the Christians. There is today a small Jewish community in Vitry-le-François, founded in the 16th century as a refuge for the inhabitants of Vitry-le-Brûlé which had been destroyed by fire. Vitry-le-François was built a few miles away from the burnt town. Simḥah b. Samuel, who is said to be the author of the talmudical and liturgic compendium known as *Maḥzor Vitry, was a native of the town.
Gross, Gal Jud, 195–7; C.-M. Detorcy, Fragments Tirés d'un Manuscrit Contenant des Recherches Chronologiques et Historiques sur l'Ancienne Ville de Vitry-en-Partois (1839), 15ff.; A.C. Boitel, Histoire de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Vitry (1841), 92ff.; E. Jovy, La Charte Communale de Vitry (n.d.) 19.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.