The Jews of Corfu: Between the Adriatic and the Ionian

Corfu Jews and the State

Because Corfu was under the jurisdiction of the Venetian State, various decrees spanning 1454-1747 discussed the possibility of requiring the Jews of Corfu to wear the yellow badge, as was required in Venice. Ultimately, the Venetian government ruled to exempt the Corfiate Jews from wearing the yellow badge, notwithstanding the requirement for their coreligionists in Venice. (Digitized in entirety here)

Similarly, a volume of decrees from Venice includes a description of appeals by Christian officials in Corfu to exempt the Jews from a Venetian edict of expulsion in 1572, which was ultimately granted. The opening shown here confirms a decree of the Doge regulating the status of the Corfiate Jews in 1592. (Digitized in entirety here)

This volume of (no less than 27!) testimonials describes the great deeds and honesty of the Jew Caim son of Elia Coen of Corfu. Included in the laudatory comments are that he took "great risks" in securing grain for the city during a shortage, for which he "deserves the gratitude of the Venetian Senate." Another attestation, dated September 9, 1640, affirms that Coen did not participate in certain riots and is "innocent." A note at the end of the manuscript implies that the testimonials were in service of a request by Coen to be allowed to bear arms and have two body guards (to prevent attacks by enemies), which was granted. This volume has been digitized and is available here.

Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. East / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5153 /