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TUSCANY, region in central Italy. No information on Jews in Tuscany during the Roman era is available but it is likely that a Jewish community existed then at least in *Florence. The first reliable data comes from Benjamin of *Tudela who found Jews in *Pisa and in *Lucca (c. 1159). There were Jews in *Siena by 1229. Jews presumably engaged in moneylending in Tuscany in the 13th century. In 1309 three Jewish loan bankers were invited to San Gimignano; the negotiations with them and others did not succeed, but in 1392 the first agreement regulating Jewish loan banking activities (condotta) there was concluded. Until 1437 Jewish moneylenders were excluded from Florence itself, but not from the provincial cities under its sovereignty. In 1393 a condotta was concluded at San Miniato with a group of Jewish bankers headed by members of the Min ha-Keneset or Min Bet-El (Della Sinagoga) family of Rome. A concession to maintain a loan bank in San Gimignano was granted in 1410, and in 1423 a similar license was extended to the city of Pisa, again to this family. At the beginning of the 15th century the family also engaged in moneylending in Pescia, Prato, Colle Val d'Elsa, and perhaps in Pistoia; authorization to permit Jews to engage in moneylending was also extended to the cities of *Arezzo, Montepulciano, Castiglion Fiorentino, Volterra, Castrocaro, and Empoli. In exchange, the central authorities demanded a tax which varied between 50 and 250 florins yearly, according to the importance of the locality.

In 1416 representatives of the communities of Tuscany took part in the Council of *Bologna. The establishment of Christian loan banks (*Monti di Pieta) in the 16th century caused some difficulty to Jewish moneylenders in Tuscany, but there was no conspicuous change in their situation, though there was an unsuccessful attempt to excommunicate the Jews of Empoli. The reign of Duke Cosimo de' Medici was originally beneficial for the Jews. In 1553 however he yielded to papal pressure and ordered the burning of the *Talmud. In 1551 he had issued an invitation to merchants from the Levant, including Jews, to settle in Tuscany and do business there; previously, Marranos also had been permitted to settle in Tuscany. In 1557 and before, he gave asylum to Jewish refugees from the Papal States. The same year he refused to implement the anti-Jewish restrictions issued by Pope *Paul iv or to hand over the Jews to the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. But when Cosimo wished to gain the support of Pope *Piusv for his aspirations to the title of grand duke, his attitude toward the Jews changed. In 1567 he rigorously applied the obligation to wear the Jewish *badge. Refugees from the Papal States who wished to settle in Volterra were not accepted. In 1570 information was collected on the Jews in Pisa, Cortona, Foiano, Pieve-Santo-Stefano, Arezzo, Prato, Anghiari, Castrocaro, Modigliana, Bibbiena, and Montepulciano, apparently as a preliminary to concentrating them in Florence. On the pretext that Jews had violated some of the articles of their moneylending concessions, all their agreements in Florence were abrogated in 1570, and in the district of Siena in 1571. Subsequently the expulsion of the Jews from all cities excepting Florence and Siena was ordered. In these cities the Jewish inhabitants were segregated in a ghetto along with refugees from other localities. At the end of the century, however, the Grand Duke Ferdinand i (1587–1609) invited Jews, including Marranos, to settle in Pisa and the free port of *Leghorn, which before long became one of the great Jewish centers of the Mediterranean area. The Lucca community, however, had ceased to exist.

At the end of the 16th century a new community was established in Pitigliano, which served as a haven for the Jews from the Papal States. This community prospered mainly in the 18th century, when the Jewish population reached 300. In the 17th century Jews settled again in Arezzo, Monte San Savino, Borgo San Sepolcro, and Lippano, although in 1680 Cosimo iii intensified the papal anti-Jewish restrictions which were now strictly enforced. At the end of the 17th century the preaching of the apostate Paolo Medici led to anti-Jewish riots, and serious disturbances occurred in Borgo San Sepolcro. A marked improvement in the conditions of the Jews in Tuscany began in the 18th century under the Lorraine dynasty. Leopold i (later Emperor Leopold ii of Austria), who reigned in Tuscany from 1765 to 1790, granted all the Jews there the same rights as the Jews of Leghorn. In 1779 he permitted Jews to sit on the municipal councils, and in 1789 to hold official positions.

In 1798 the French occupied Tuscany and granted the Jews full rights of citizenship. These were abrogated in 1799 after the retreat of the French forces. In the wake of the reaction, there were serious anti-Jewish disturbances, especially in Siena and in Monte San Savino and the community ceased to exist. In 1801, on the establishment of the kingdom of Etruria by Napoleon, the Jews in Tuscany were again granted full rights. Between 1810 and 1814, when Tuscany was incorporated in the French Empire, the communities were organized on the lines of the French *Consistory. Jews began to acquire land and to enter middle-class society.

After the Restoration, however, the situation reverted to much the same as before, but Jews were no longer required to live in the ghettos, although most continued to reside there. The House of Lorraine continued its liberal policy, and consequently Tuscany attracted many Jews in poor economic circumstances from Rome. Jews were permitted to attend public schools and universities in Tuscany. They took part in all branches of the economy in business and industry. Only government positions, military service, and the legal profession remained closed to them. On April 30, 1859, Tuscany was incorporated in the kingdom of Sardinia (later the kingdom of Italy) and the principle of equal rights without discrimination on religious grounds was introduced there also. Henceforth the history of the Jews of Tuscany does not differ from the general history of Italian Jewry. Concerning the organization of the communities, legislation of the House of Lorraine remained in force. This obliged every Jew to belong to the community and pay dues to it. However, between 1865 and 1905 the communities successively dispensed with levying compulsory dues. The Italian law of 1931 regulating the organization of the Jewish communities applied to Tuscany, and the principle of compulsory taxation was again introduced. The provincial Tuscan communities dwindled in the 19th century like most of the small communities of Italy. In 1969 there were only a few fully organized communities in Florence, Pisa (including Viareggio and Lucca), and Leghorn (Livorno), and partially in Siena.


U. Cassuto, Ebrei a Firenze nell'età del Rinascimento (1918); Roth, Italy, index; Milano, Italia, index; De Rubertis, in: rmi, 18 (1952), 10–20; J.E. Rignano, Sulla attuale posizione giuridica degl'israeliti in Toscana … (1847).

[Menachem E. Arom]

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Tuscany (tŭs´kənē), Ital. Toscana, region (1991 pop. 3,538,619), 8,876 sq mi (22,989 sq km), N central Italy, bordering on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and including the Tuscan Archipelago. Florence is the capital of the region, which is divided into the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa-Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, and Siena (named for their principal cities).

In the late Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance, Tuscany was a center of the arts and of learning. The Tuscan spoken language became the literary language of Italy after Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Boccaccio used it. Notable schools of architecture, sculpture, and painting developed from the 11th cent. in many cities, particularly Florence, Pisa, Siena, and Arezzo. From the 16th cent., however, intellectual and artistic life was almost wholly concentrated in Florence. There are universities at Florence, Pisa, and Siena.

Physical Geography and Economy

This prosperous economic region is mostly hilly and mountainous. There is much fertile soil, especially in the Arno River valley and in the Maremma, a coastal strip. The Apennines are in northern and eastern Tuscany; in the northwest are the Alpi Apuane, where the famous Carrara marble is quarried; and there are also mountains in the south, where iron, magnesium, and quicksilver are produced. In addition, borax is produced in the Maremma, and iron is mined on Elba island. Along the northern coast, which is low and sandy, are fine pine woods. Farm products of the region include cereals, olives, tobacco, and grapes; sheep, goats, and hogs are widely raised. The wine produced in the Chianti district near Siena is world famous.

Tuscany has considerable industry, although farming is still an important chief occupation. Manufactures include cotton and woolen textiles, metal products, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles, precision instruments, glass, refined petroleum, and fertilizer. The region is also well-known for its artisans, especially those in Florence, and tourism is an important industry.


Modern Tuscany corresponds to the larger part of ancient Etruria, and most of our knowledge of Etruscan civilization is derived from findings there. The Romans conquered the region in the mid-4th cent. BC After the fall of Rome, it was a Lombard duchy (6th–8th cent. AD), with Lucca as its capital, and later a powerful march under the Franks (8th–12th cent.). Matilda (d.1115), the last Frankish ruler, bequeathed her lands to the papacy, an act which long caused strife between popes and emperors.

In spite of the dual claims, most cities became (11th–12th cent.) free communes; some of them (Pisa, Lucca, Siena, and Florence) developed into strong republics. Commerce, industry, and the arts flourished. Guelph (pro-papal) and Ghibelline (pro-imperial) strife, however, was particularly violent in Tuscany, and there were strong rivalries both within and among cities. After a period of Pisan hegemony (12th–13th cent.), Florence gained control over most Tuscan cities in the 14th–15th cent.; Siena (1559) was the last city to fall under Florence's influence.

Under the Medici, the ruling family of Florence, Tuscany became (1569) a grand duchy, and thus again a political entity; only the republic of Lucca and the duchy of Massa and Carrara remained independent. After the extinction of the Medici line, Tuscany passed (1737) to ex-duke Francis of Lorraine (later Holy Roman Emperor Francis I), who was succeeded by Grand Duke Leopold I (1765–90; later Emperor Leopold II) and then by Ferdinand III (1790–1801; 1814–24). The French Revolutionary armies invaded Tuscany in 1799, and it was briefly included in the kingdom of Etruria (1801–7) and was ruled under the duchy of Parma, before it was annexed to France by Napoleon I.

In 1814, Tuscany again became a grand duchy, under the returning Ferdinand III and then under Leopold II (1824–59) and briefly under Ferdinand IV (1859–60). In 1848, Leopold was forced to grant a constitution, and in 1849 he had to leave Tuscany briefly when it was for a short time a republic. However, in 1852 he was able, with the help of Austria, to rescind the constitution. In 1860, Tuscany voted to unite with the kingdom of Sardinia.

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Tuscany (Toscana) Region in central Italy between the Mediterranean coast and the Apennine Mountains; the capital is Florence. Other cities include Siena and Pisa. Tuscany is mostly mountainous with fertile valleys. Agriculture is the most important activity, with cereals, olives, and grapes among the main products. Carrara marble is quarried in the nw, and there is mining for lead, zinc, antimony and copper in the sw. Industries: tourism, wine, woollens, chemicals, steel, motor scooters, artisan industries. Area: 22,992sq km (8877sq mi). Pop. (1999 est.) 3,528,563.