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TRANI , seaport in Apulia, S. Italy. In the 12th century, when the town had become a port of embarkation for Crusaders and an important center of Eastern trade, it contained a flourishing Jewish community. When *Benjamin of Tudela visited Trani around 1159 he found 200 Jewish families there. Recognizing their economic usefulness the Norman kings in the 12th century and Emperor Frederick ii in the first half of the 13th century granted the Jews a measure of protection. Thanks to this royal patronage they were given the right to control and distribute all the raw silk in Apulia and Calabria. Under Angevin rule toward the end of the 13th century, the position of the Jews deteriorated and they were subjected to severe persecution, fomented by Dominican friars. The houses in the Jewish quarter were repeatedly sacked; *blood libels were frequently raised against the heavily taxed Jews and a growing number was forced into baptism, causing heavy losses to the community. In 1290 four synagogues were converted into churches; two of them still stand. The position did not improve in the next century and many Jewish families left the town. In 1382 other synagogues were turned into churches and the Jewish cemetery was confiscated by the friars. In 1413, when King Ladislas of Naples issued certain dispositions regarding the communal administration of the city of Trani, he decreed that the community (universitas) would have the right to elect a governing body of 16 representatives consisting of 8 nobles, 6 commoners, and *Neofiti (baptized Jews). In all probability the need for this provision arose from the continuing existence of a convert population that retained a separate identity. In 1443 Trani still had 870 families of *Neofiti, and all the commercial activities of the town were said to be concentrated in their hands. After the 1492 expulsions from the Spanish kingdoms and Sicily, many exiles settled in Trani. Jews and Neofiti were expelled from Trani in 1510–11, along with the rest of the Jews in southern Italy. Sporadic persecutions of Neofiti continued for some time. The medieval Jewish settlement is still commemorated by street names such as Vicolo Giudecca, Via Scolanova, and Via la Giudea (renamed Via Mose (di Isaiah) di Trani).


Milano, Bibliotheca, index; Milano, Italia, index; Roth, Italy, index; U. Cassuto, in: Rivista degli studi orientali, 13 (1932), 172–80; idem, in: Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume … (1950), 387–9; Luzzatto, in: rmi, 10 (1935/36), 285–9; N. Ferorelli, Ebrei nell'Italia Meridionale … (1915), passim; E. Munkácsi, Der Jude von Neapel (1939), 47–80. add. bibliography: C. Colafemmina, "Documenti per la storia degli ebrei a Trani nei secoli xv–xvi," in: Sefer Yuhasin, 3 (1987), 17–24; idem, Documenti per la storia degli ebrei in Puglia nell'archivio di stato di Napoli (1990); D. Abulafia, "Il mezzogiorno peninsulare dai bizantini all'espulsione," in: Storia d'Italia. Annali 11, Gli ebrei in Italia. Dall'alto Medioevo all'età dei ghetti, ed. Corrao Vivant (1996), 5–44; C. Colafemmina, "Di alcune iscrizioni ebraiche a Trani," in: rmi, 67 (2001), 305–12.

[Arial Toaff /

Nadia Zeldes (2nd ed.)]