This is the new chapter from the revised edition – it is of no interest to anyone, and proves nothing. This is what Toaff wastes his time with instead of proving the fairy tale of the “voluntary donors”.
For comparison between the original and revised editions of BLOOD PASSOVER [Pasque di Sangue], click here
For a short summary of these deletions and interpolations, click here
For Ariel Toaff's Apologia pro Vita Sua, click here
For quotes from Ronie Po-chia Hsia, click here
For general discussion of Toaff's newly invented fairy tale of the "voluntary donors", click here
The Embarrassing Trial of the Priest Paolo da Novara (Trent, 1476)
On 13 November 1476, the priest Paolo da Novara was arrested at Trent, accused of having plotted with the heads of the Jewish community of the Duchy of Milan to cause the death of the prince-bishop Giovanni Hinderbach. The trial started two days later and lasted until 16 September. It should be noted that between June of 1475 and January 1476 all those accused of the alleged child murder of little Simoncino, members of the Jewish community of Trent, had been tried, condemned and publicly executed. The women, by contrast, were being under house arrest while awaiting judgement. Bishop Hinderbach, for his part, was committed to the preparation of a documented file on the trials to be sent to Pontefex Sixtus IV in Rome to justify the procedure adopted in condemning the Jews. Paolo da Novara himself had been employed by the bishop in copying documents for several months, to be inserted in the voluminous file and sent to Rome (1).
Paolo was accused of having contacted his contemporary Crassino (Ghershon) da Novara, one of the richest and most influential Jews in the Duchy of Milan, offering his services, naturally, against adequate remuneration, so that the Jews might revenge themselves upon Hinderbach for his misdeeds at their expense (2). Subsequently, the greedy priest is said to have travelled to Monza to confer with Falcone, another of the most prominent businessmen in the Ashkenazi community living in Italy (3). Finally, by December 1475 and the following January, Paolo da Novara is said to have decided to move to Piacenza to meet with the recognized heads of the Duchy of Milan, all active in the financial sector (4).
The representatives of the Jewish communities of the Duchy, at least since 1453, met regularly at Piacenza, in meetings held
at least twice a year, to divide the burden of the taxes to be paid to the Duke among the individual contributors (5). We know that starting in 1466, the meetings at Piacenza were presided over by Manno di Aberlino (Mendele b. Avraham) da Vincenza, banker at Pavia, who, as we have seen, was without doubt the most important Jewish financier in the Duchy of Milan (6). The Milanese government was rather firm in this regard and obliged the representatives of the Jewish community to participate in the plenary assemblies at Piacenza, under pain of fine of one hundred gold ducats for failure to fulfil.
In 1470, the Jews of the Duchy of Milan met at Piacenza for the first time, in the month of February, and a second time in the month of October, to provide for the renewal of their representatives. In January 1471, the bankers, newly gathered in their headquarters in Piacenza, fixed the charges to be assigned to the individual entrepreneurs subject to the collective tax. The highest contributions were those requested of Manno da Pavia, Crassino da Novara, Benedetto da Como, Falcone da Monza and the famous Donato Israel Soncino (7). In 1477, the meetings at Piacenza were held in the months of January and October, as in 1470, and perhaps in the previous and following years (8).
In January 1480, the congress of the Jewish community of the Duchy of Milan, newly convened at Piacenza (universitas et congregatio ebreorum dominii nostril in civitate Placentie universaliter congregatorum) concerned itself, other than with the usual problem of the taxes, with the economic matters linked to the arrest and detention in prison of two Jews from Pavia. During that meeting, the controversial proposal was made to increase the number of contributors to the Ducal taxes, including those not engaged in the management of a bank, contrary to their practice until that time (9).
As we have seen, in January 1476, the priest Paolo da Novara, a survivor of the Trent trial, was accused of having been a welcome guest of the meeting of the Jews of the Duchy of Milan, held, as usual, at Piacenza, in the great hall on the second floor of a palace located not far from the Albergo della Cigogna, on the Parma road. The meeting, which, for reasons of legitimate caution, was said to have been presided over by Manno da Pavia, and in which about fifteen delegates were to have participated, including Donato Israel Soncino and Falcone da Monza (10). On that occasion, the representatives of the Jews of the Duchy, whose spokesman
is said to have been Donato Israel Soncino, is said to have made a discrete suggestion to the priest that Hinderbach’s well-deserved death be hastened by poison (11). The proposal was said to have been perfected at the end of the month of January 1476, over the course of a new meeting of Paolo with Crassino da Novara. These two men are said to have sent their potential assassin to Pavia, where he said to have waited for Manno, the influential head of the conspiracy. The meeting between Paolo da Novara and the powerful Ashkenazi banker is said to have taken place in March 1476. On this occasion, Manno is said to have asked the priest to poison the bishop of Trent, by pouring arsenic into his drinking water. The poison was to be procured at Venice by the physician Omobono (Simcha Bunim), who kept a pharmacy at San Cassian (12). In exchange for his services, Paolo is said to have received a reward of four hundred gold ducats, two hundred of which were to have been paid immediately, while the remaining two hundred were to be paid afterwards, deposited in his name in the Manno bank in Venice, upon the successful completion of his mission (13). The priest would also have to bribe the keeper of the jail in which the Jewish women were incarcerated at Trent, purchasing a raft and embarking them after their escape, to enable the current of the Adige to convey them to Rovereto, in Venetian territory (14).
There is no doubt as to the fact that Manno is said to have decided to take advantage of the services of the priest Paolo as courier, in order to send a few letters addressed to the physician Omobono in Venice. Crassino da Novara is said to have done so as well. In practice, from March 1476 until the following May, prior to his arrest, Paolo is said to have become the courier of the Jews of the Duchy of Milan, delivering their letters, when requested to do so. In his travels, which were sometimes very lengthy, we know that the priest-courier passed through Bassano, Feltre, Udine, Milano, Monza, Piacenza, Pavia, Novara, Crema, Soncino and Brescia (15).
Despite their plans, however, the physician Omobono failed to arrive at Venice. This is why, at the time of his arrest, the letters in his possession included one in Hebrew, which was confiscated along with the rest, written by Manno to Omobono, and intended for delivery to the latter at Venice. In the letter, Manno urgently requested the physician to pay attention to what the courier, Paolo da Novara, was to tell him, and then take whatever decisions might seem most appropriate (“if the courier of this letter speaks to you, pay attention to him and then decide
according to your intelligence”). (16) Even if it is desired to deny all credibility to the entirety of the priest’s confession -- extorted, as usual, by torture -- the letter in Hebrew certainly confirmed Paolo da Novara’s intention to speak with Omobono of things which could not be put in writing. It is therefore sufficiently obvious that the mention related to the conspiracy against the bishop of Trent. At any rate, if a plan to poison Hinderbach was actually considered by the heads of the Ashkenazi community of Milan, it is probable (as is said to have emerged from the Hebrew text) that this occurred on the direct, and certainly not disinterested, initiative of the priest. The Venetian Jewish physician, who, according to Paolo’s confession, was presumably called upon to supply the poison, is said to have considered the proposal in order to decide how serious and feasible it might be, while simultaneously appraising its political implications.
Together with the letters in Hebrew, a few missives in Yiddish were also confiscated from the priest’s room in Trent, addressed, at the beginning of the same month, to Crassino da Novara and his wife Ellin, by a few of their relatives, living elsewhere in Italy (perhaps at Brescia, but at any rate in the territories belonging to Venice)(17). These letters, which have been studied, and are to be published by Boris Kolterman of the Institute for Yiddish studies at the University Bar Ilan, make explicit reference to the ritual murder trial of the Jews of Regensburg, which had opened, the mission of unknown persons and fraught with danger for the defendants of 1476 (18).
The original letters, in Hebrew and old Yiddish, confiscated from Paolo da Novara, have been lost, but were recopied, although with errors and a lack of clarity, more in Hebrew than in Yiddish, by an anonymous copyist (perhaps a converted Jew, but more likely a German official with a knowledge of Hebrew and Yiddish) in the records of the notary Giovanni da Fondo, in the file of the records of the Trent trial, signed and sealed by the podestà Alessandro da Bassan dated 11 March 1478 (19).
1 ) On the person and missions of Paolo da Novara, see A. Esposito and D. Quaglioni, Processi contro gli ebrei di Trento (14 75-1478). I: I processi di 1475, Padua, 1990, pp. 98-100.
2. On Crassino da Novara, see ibidem, pp. 46, 56.
3. On Falcone da Monza, see Antionazzi Villa, Un processo, cit. Pp, 25, 56, 62-63.
4. These details, taken from the records of Paolo’s trial, are reproduced by G. Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, 2 vol. Trent, 1902, pp.154-159.
5. Cfr. Sh.Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, 4 vols, Jerusalem, 1982-1986, vol. 1, p. XLI.
6. On Manno di Aberlino da Vincenza, banker at Pavia, see our comments above, in Chapter I, in addition to D. Carpi, Notes on the Life of R. Judah Messer Leon, in E. Toaf (author), Studi sull ebraismo in memoria di C. Roth, Rome, 1974, p. 62 (family genealogy).
7. On Donato Israel Soncino, see, in particular, V. Colorni, I da Spria avi dei tipografi Soncino e la loro attività nel Veneto e in Lombardia durante il secolo XV, in Id., Judaica Minora. Saggi sulla storia dell’ebraismo italiano dall’antichità all’eta moderna, Milan, 1983, pp. 361-364.
8. Cfr. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, cit., vol. I, pp. 422’424, 514-515, 530, 534-536, (committimus et mandamus omnibus et singulis officialibus nostris […] ut ebreis ipsis precipiant et mandent […] se recipere et simul convenire in civitate nostra Placentiae).
9. Cfr. Ibidem, vol. I, pp. 683, 710, 807-808, 820, 823, 828-829.
10. For an account of the meeting, taken from the text of the trials and confession of the priest, see [Benedetto Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetic sul martirio del beato Simone di Trento nell’anno MCCCCLXXV dagli ebrei ucciso, Trento, Gianbattista Parone, 1747, pp. 130-132 ; Divina, Storia del Beato Simone da Trento, cit. vol. II, pp. 154-159.
11. Donatus de Soncino Judaeus interrogavit ipsum Presbyterium Paulum an posset facere aliquo modo, quod omnes Judaei et Judaei incarcerati et incarcerate Civitatis Tridenti extrahuntur de carceribus et fugerent […] Et ultimo loco dictus Donatus dixit (sc Prebytero Paulo : Sufficeret vobis animus exequendi illud quod dixit vobis heri ille noster Judaeus, videlicet venenare Episcopum Tridenti […] ? Cum Donato ipse Presbyter Paulus respondit quod hoc posset temptari, licet difficile esset ([Bonelli]), Dissertazione apologetica, cit pp. 146-147).
12. On thephysician Omobono (Simcha Bunim) of Venice, see Chapter I. See also D. Carpi, L’individuo e la collettività. Saggi di storia degli ebrei a Padova e nel Veneto nell’eta del Rinascimento, Firenze, 2002, pp. 221, 224.
13. Ipse Presbyter Paulus motus est est volendo venenare praelibatum Reverendissimum Dominum Episcopum Tridentinum [...] ut lucraretur praedictos qua dringentos Ducatos ([Bonelli]), Dissertazione apologetic, cit. P. 146-147).
14. The detail is provided by Divina, who paraphrases the text of Paolo’s confession (Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, p. 193).
15. Cfr.ibidem, vol. II, p. 147. The information is correct, since after Paolo’s arrest letters in Hebrew and Yiddish were found in his possession which had no relation the Trent trial for the murder of little Simon.
16. Im yeddaber elecha nose’ ketavi zeh tishma’ devarav we-az bechar lechah ke-chochmatecha.
17. These letters, written in Hebrew and Yiddish, are indicated by [Bonelli], Dissertazione apologetic, cit. pp. 150-151, and Divina, Storia del beato Simone da Trento, cit., vol. II, pp. 194-195. For an initial, summary, in large part incorrect, of their contents, see, recently, W. Treue, Treienter Judenprozess. Voraussetzungen-Abläufe-Auswirkungen (1475-1588), Hannover, Forschungen zur Geschichte der Juden, 1997, pp. 114 ss.; Ch.Turniansky and E. Trimm, Yiddish in Italy. Manuscripts and Printed Books from the 15th to the 17th Century, Milan, 2003, p. 158.
18. On the alleged case of ritual murder at Regensburg, see Chapter V.
19. Ast, Archivo Principesco Vescovile, s.l., 69, 68.
...but Jewish ritual murder is absurd
because Jews are disgusted by the ingestion of blood!