Jews on trial

The Papal Inquisition in Modena, 1598-1638

By Katherine Aron-Beller

Jews on trial


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0661-2
  • Pages: 292
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: September 2016
  • BIC Category: History of art, History & Archaeology, c 1500 onwards to present day, Early Modern History, Religion, History, Social & cultural history, ART / History / Renaissance, HISTORY / Jewish, Renaissance style, Relating to Jewish people & groups, Society & social sciences / Jewish studies, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700
  • Series: Studies in Early Modern European History


Jews on trial concentrates on Inquisitorial activity during the period which historians have argued was the most active in the Inquisition's history: the first forty years of the tribunal in Modena, from 1598 to 1638, the year of the Jews' enclosure in the ghetto.

Scholars have in the past tended to group trials of Jews and conversos in Italy together. This book emphasises the fundamental disparity in Inquisitorial procedure, as well as the evidence examined, and argues that this was especially true in Modena where the secular authority did not have the power during the period in question to reject, or even significantly monitor, Inquisitorial trial procedure. It draws upon the detailed testimony to be found in trial transcripts to analyse Jewish interaction with Christian society in an early modern community.

This book will appeal to scholars of inquisitorial studies, social and cultural interaction in early modern Europe, Jewish Italian social history and anti-Semitism.


'Jews on trial is a welcome contribution to the study of early modern Papal Inquisition and Italian Jewish history. Its finding raise many important questions that will no doubt propel further research.'
Magda Teter, The Journal of Early Modern Studies, Vol XLIII, No. 4


Part I: The Inquisition and disciplining Jews
1. Jews, Papal Inquisitors, and the Estense Dukes
2. Procedure and reaction
Part II: A study of Jewish offences in different settings
3. The Jewish household: Jewish masters and Christian servants
4. The Piazza: verbal offences on the streets of Modena
Part III: Micro-history
5. The Jew's balcony: a tale of a young Jewess's flirtation with Christianity
6. The Pingolo: a locus for Jewish fantasy
7. Proselytizing at Purim


Katherine Aron-Beller is On-line Adjunct Professor at Gratz College of Jewish Studies and Lecturer at the International School in Tel Aviv University

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