CREMONA , city in Lombardy, N. Italy. Jews are first mentioned in Cremona in 1278 as loan bankers. The Jews were given protection by the Visconti dukes of Milan, who in 1387 granted the right of residence in Cremona. The Jews of Cremona did not confine themselves to banking but also engaged in commerce and farming, becoming the largest Jewish community in Lombardy. In about 1466 the commune requested that no more Jews be admitted into Cremona. Under the Sforza dukes, and after during the Venetian domination (1499–1509) and also during the French occupation, in 1509 and again later, the commune asked that the Jews should be excluded, but the requests were not met. In addition, the Jews suffered from the antisemitic preachings of the friars until Pope Paul iii (1534–49) intervened to moderate their attacks. A few years previously (1525) the duchy of Milan (to which Cremona belonged) had passed to the iron rule of Spain. The *bull issued by Pope *Julius iii in 1553 ordering that all copies of the Talmud should be burned was at first opposed by the governor of Milan. Cremona was then a center of Jewish scholarship. R. Joseph *Ottolenghi (d. 1570) gave special luster to the local talmudic academy and from 1556 printing of Hebrew works began. In 1557 the Inquisition urged the authorities of Cremona to enforce the bull of 1553. Although at first unsuccessful, the efforts of the Holy Office bore fruit in 1559. Following a dispute between the apostate Vittorio Eliano (in which he supported the equivocal Joshua de' Cantori) and Joseph Ottolenghi, the Inquisition seized 12,000 Talmudic codex and 10,000 Hebrew books and consigned them to the flames. In the same year, the archbishop of Milan, Carlo *Borromeo, enforced some of the anti-Jewish restrictions recently renewed by the Vatican, prohibiting Jews from lending money and compelling them to wear the Jewish *badge. In 1590, there were 456 Jews living in Cremona and most of them were moneylenders, traders of second-hand and dealers of new textiles. In 1591 Philip ii, king of Spain, ordered all the Jews to leave the duchy of Milan. Several stays of the order were granted until 1597. In 1629 only the family Soave resided in Cremona as loan bankers and traders. Attempts to induce Jews to return to Cremona in 1619, 1626, and 1633 failed. Parts of the communal archives are preserved in the Montefiore Collection in London (Ms. 94).
During the second half of 15th century were copied out some siddurim and commentaries. In 1550 Meir da Padova copied out some Torah scrolls for Joseph *Ottolenghi. The Christian Vincenzo Conti printed about 40 Hebrew books in Cremona between 1556 and 1567, the best known being the Zohar in 1559. The first production was Isaac b. Joseph of Corbeil's Ammudei Golah for which Conti had as his associates Samuel Boehm and Zanvil Pescarol. From 1558 until 1567 Conti continued to print Hebrew books whose contents had been sanctioned by the Inquisition. Until 1559 Conti used almost exclusively "Rashi" (cursive) type, as in his first edition of Ẓiyyoni by Menahem b. Meir, of which the Inquisition destroyed 1,000 copies. From then onward he used square type, as in the Zohar and the second edition of Ẓiyyoni. In Cremona Conti finished the Ashkenazi Maḥzor begun in *Sabioneta in 1557, while books printed there for Conti by Zifroni in 1567 (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer, Halikhot Olam, Ẓeidah la-Derekh, and an Ashkenazi siddur) are continuations of Cremona work. Conti used a variety of title page decorations: in 1556, faun and nymph with the coat of arms of Cremona; 1557–67, the typical Cremona tailpiece inscribed spqr; 1565–66, portals with turkey cocks; and, for folios, portals with *Akedah illustration. In 1576 another Christian printer, Cristoforo Draconi, printed (with the help of Solomon Bueno) Eliezer Ashkenazi's Yosef Lekaḥ.
Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; Milano, Bibliotheca, index; Joseph b. Joshua ha-Kohen, Emek ha-Bakhah (1852), 120, 130; G.B. De' Rossi, Annali ebreo-tipografici di Cremona 1556–1586 (Parma, 1808); A. Pesaro, in: Vessilo Israelitico, 30 (1882/83), passim; 31 (1883), 4–7; Bergamaschi, in: La scuola cattolica, 34 (1906), 258–68, 617–37; J. Bianchi, Sulletipografie ebraiche di Cremona nel secolo xvi (Cremona, 1807); D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), 306ff.; I. Sonne, Expurgation of Hebrew Books (1943), 21ff.; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 80ff.; A.M. Habermann, Ha-Sefer ha-Ivri be-Hitpatteḥuto (1968), index; M. Benayahu, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Kremona (1971). add. bibliography: S. Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan, 4 vols. (1982–86).
[Attilio Milano /
Federica Francesconi (2nd ed.)]