On the eve of the Ghetto

Jewish Residence in Florence, 1568

In the sixteenth century, Italian cities from Venice to Rome limited the residence and movement of Jews within their walls, creating the first ghettos where Jews were confined and curfewed. Though intended to pressure Jews to convert to Christianity through discomfort, these walled communities paradoxically became crucibles of Italian Jewish culture, and strengthened Jewish identities through shared adversity. This map shows the dispersal and concentration of Jews in Florence in 1568, when Duke Cosimo I ordered a census of Jewish households in order to prepare for their relocation to the new ghetto in 1570.

The map shows both the number of Jews noted in the census by parish of residence, as well as the details of individual Jewish households identified through the 1561 decima granducale census. The identification of Jews in the Christian tax census is difficult, of course, as Jews were assessed for a separate 20% property tax – a ventima.

You can see the original map on ArcGIS.com here.

The research for this map was conducted by Colin Rose and Justine Walden, during her time as a DECIMA post-doc. We are grateful to Edward Goldberg for providing a transcription of the 1568 censimento d’ebrei whence the data is drawn.

The history of Jews in Italy is fraught and fascinating. For starter readings, see

Siegmund, Stefanie B. The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence the Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community. Stanford Series in Jewish History and Culture / Edited by Aron Rodrigue and Steven J. Zipperstein. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2006.
Davis, Robert C., and Benjamin C. I. Ravid. The Jews of Early Modern Venice. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Stow, Kenneth R. Alienated Minority : The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992.
This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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