Jewish History in the Touraine ~ a timeline

A Timeline of Jewish History in the Touraine Region of France

The Touraine Region hosts one of the oldest Jewish communities in France.

6th Century Touraine

From the first half of the sixth century Jews lived either in the city of Tour or in its environs, especially in Civray.
c.580, a Jewish tax-collector of Tours named Amantius, together with his three attendants, one Jew and two Christians, was attacked, stripped, murdered, and thrown into a well.

11th Century Touraine

At the close of the eleventh century Philip I of France made over to his wife, Bertrade, half the revenues from the Jews of Tours in the Touraine.

12th Century Touraine

1119 and 1143 Louis VI and his son, Louis VII, presented the income refered to above as an offering to the Abbey of Saint Martin (1).
1141 the Jews were obliged to give the king at Easter the sum of thirty sous, together with half a pound of pepper and other gifts in kind; and at Christmas they were forced to give half a pound of pepper, two loaves of bread, a pitcher of wine, and a certain quantity of meat.
1171, a notable of Tours intervened in favor of the Jewish community of Blois suspected of ritual murder. Later, the Jews were thrown out several times. Some erudite persons there corresponded with Rashi.
At the end of the twelfth century, they were compelled to pay 30 sous annually to Richard, King of England and Count of Tours, and to the Abbey of Saint Martin.
1182, all Jews were expelled from France.

13th Century Touraine

After 1202, the kings of France collected the revenues of the Jews, which amounted to 120 livres in 1234, but which increased to 1,024 livres and 5 denarii in 1298, and reached the sum of 2,077 livres, 9 denarii in the following year.
1215, the Lateran Council of 1215 summoned by Pope Innocent III forbade the living or working together and trading between Jews and Christians. Jews were excluded from all trades except pawn broking and working with old clothes. They had to wear a special garment to differentiate them from Christians. This applied throughout the Christian world wherever canon law was followed.
An agreement of 1215 between the Abbey of St. Martin of Tours and the squire of Loches stipulated that not a single Jew would be authorized to reside in the locality of Longueil [Ligueil?].
1242, 20 cartloads of the Jewish holy book, the Talmud, was burned in Paris.
1246, the common law of Touraine of this year declared that upon his request a Jew of the feudal lord or the king would be judged by that lord or the king because they were the actual owners of his belongings.
The old cemetery in the Parish of Saint Vincent in front of the “old garden” extended from the vineyards of Saint Vincent to the Rue de la Chèvre and from the vineyards of the vestry of Saint Julian to the street which ran in front of the “old garden.”  In the thirteenth century, certain disputes arose between the Jews of Tours and Archbishop Pierre de Lamballe, but in 1255 the latter guaranteed them perpetual possession of their cemetery and of a house and the vineyards attached, reserving for himself only the right of jurisdiction and a rent of five gold oboles of the value of 25 sous, payable annually at Christmas. In case of non-payment, the Jews were liable to a fine of 7½ sous and were forbidden to till the ground until they discharged their debt. In return, the archbishop, in guaranteeing the peaceable possession of the cemetery, granted also the right to inter Jews without regard to the place of death. In the house attached to the graveyard, they were permitted to place a guardian exempt from service to the archbishop and from payment of any rental.

14th Century Touraine

1305, the above agreement was ratified in this year by Archbishop Renaud, successor of Pierre de Lamballe; but the following year the cemetery was confiscated, together with the other property of the Jews, and it disappeared completely in 1359-60.
1306, the Jews were expelled from the Touraine Region. 22 July, 1306 King Philip IV of France, known as Philip the Fair, expelled all Jews from his kingdom (including those Jews who had recently fled similar expulsions from England under Edward 1).This was a frightening and base money-making scheme by the monarchy who confiscated and sold off Jewish property. This
Included the presentation by,Philip the Fair, of the Jewish quarter of Tours to its archbishop and his clergy.  Sadly, theft of Jewish property was a  normal event in mediaeval times. It was legal for the King to take over the Jews’ possessions as they were in effect already his property. Jews were regarded as ‘servi camerae mostrae’, the Latin for ‘servants of our chamber’.
Across the country 100,000 Jews were arrested on July 22nd 1306. Any who were not arrested faced the penalty of death.
In an entry for the year 1306 on the subject of the expulsion of the Jews from France, the “Abridged Chronicle of Touraine” relates that the Jews left the Touraine on August 26.
In Pontlevoy in the East Touraine, the Rue de la Juiverie is the only remnant of the ancient Jewish community of this town.
1315, the Jews returned to France. Those in Tours were molested four years later by a band of thieves  pretending to have a commission from the king to extort money from them.
1321 came the charge of poisoning the wells and they were again driven from Tours, Amboise, Loches, and Chinon.
1359, there was a return of exiled Jews to France but, it seems, none settled in the Touraine.

18th Century Touraine

The Jews of Tours lived in their own ghetto (“la Juiverie”) situated in the parish of Saint-Pierre du Boile in the Rue des Maures, called the Rue des Morts or de la Juiverie in the eighteenth century.
19th Century Touraine
August 20, 1860 Mayor Tours authorized the installation of a Jewish chapel at 1, quai foire le Roi.

20th Century Touraine

1907-08, the Tours ACIT synagogue on the, Rue Parmentier dates from 1907. Its architect was Victor Tondu.
During World War Two, the Touraine was host to the detention camp of Lande, in Monts, near Tours (November 1940 -January 1944). It was a camp for French and non-French internees. It was here  that almost 600 Jews were committed, deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and exterminated by the Nazis.
The broad-based resistance movement assisted many Jewish families and individuals to survive the persecution.

21st Century Touraine

There are around 200 Jewish families living in Tours representing a community of about 700 persons. Universities and establishments of higher education in Tours have about 30,000 students among whom are numerous young French Jewish students and from the whole world.
2010, saw the celebration of 150 years (1860-210) of Jewish contributions to the economic, philosophic and artistic development of the Touraine Region
(1)   During the Middle Ages, Tours consisted of two juxtaposed and competing centres. The “City” in the east, successor of the late Roman ‘castrum’, was composed of the archiepiscopal establishment (the cathedral and palace of the archbishops) and of the castle of Tours, seat of the authority of the Counts of Tours (later Counts of Anjou) and of the King of France. In the west, the “new city” structured around the Abbey of Saint Martin was freed from the control of the City during the 10th century (an enclosure was built towards 918) and became “Châteauneuf”. This space, organized between Saint Martin and the Loire, became the economic centre of Tours. Tours is a good example of a medieval double city. Source: Wikipedia

Sources and sites to visit for further information:

About Jim McNeill

I am a blogger on 'The Social History of the Touraine region of France (37)' and also 'The Colonial History of Pennsylvania and the life & Family of William Penn'. I am a Director of Fresh Ground Group Ltd.
This entry was posted in 19th Century Touraine, Amboise, Chinon, Jewish History, Ligueil, Loches, Medieval history, Monts, Pontlevoy, Resistance in the Touraine Region, Tours and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Jewish History in the Touraine ~ a timeline

  1. Michael Scheflan says:

    I am searching for Rabbi Micha Konig.
    Micha and I studied in Switzerland in the Mid sixties and became friends. I lost track of him 40 years ago.

  2. Pingback: Tours synagogue and its WWII commemorative plaques | Social history in the Touraine ~ Central France

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