Monday, 21 November 2011

Spanish Prince tries to attract Jewish merchants to Naples, 1740

Naples was conquered by the Spanish prince, the Duke of Parma (future Charles III of Spain, pictured). He was crowned King of Naples and Sicily in 1735. The proclamation below, dated 1740, appears to have been a serious attempt to attract Jewish merchants, possibly from Livorno. He was offering freedom of worship, freedom of movement, freedom of trade, immunity from extradition to face Inquisition persecution and numerous other rights that must have been utterly shocking to conservative opinion back in Spain.

Given that he was a future king of Spain (albeit a Bourbon, and great-grandson of Louis XIV of France) it is remarkable that he was making a play for Jewish business just twenty after the Inquisition killing-machine was at the peak of its activities. It suggests Charles was, at least, was pragmatic and brave. He later, unsuccessfully, tried to modernise Spain.

Whatever his good intentions, the Jews didn’t take the bait. This is hardly surprising given the context, but it raises a number of historical “what ifs”. I like Charles III.

On the Trade of Naples

THIS Capital of the Kingdom of the same Name, is a Place of great Trade, and the Goodness of its Port attracts vast Numbers of foreign Vessels to it, but in order still to increase its Commerce, and raise it to the highest Pitch possible, Don Carlos, the present King, has invited the Jews to settle there, by granting them several very great and singular Privileges, as will appear by the following Edict published on the Third of Februarys 1740, by Order of his Sicilian Majesty, viz.

I. It is granted to all Merchants or others of the Hebrew Nation, a full and absolute Safe-guard, Faculty and Permission, to come, remain, traffick, pass on,, or stay, with or without their Families, in our Kingdoms and States, as also to depart, and return, without any Obstacle, both in regard of their Effects, and Persons; and this for the Term of fifty Years next following, to commence the first Day of this; declaring that the fiftieth Year being expired, there shall yet be granted five others, during which, if it be the good Pleasure of his Majesty, or his Successors, to abrogate the present Licence at the End of the fifth Year, they may freely, and without Hindrance, regulate all their Affairs, &c. we willing, that no extraordinary Duty be exacted from them on the Departure of their Ships, Vessels, Horses, Carriages, &c.

II. If any Hebrews coming from other Kingdoms or Countries to ours, shall be accused in those States from whence they came, of having committed some enormous Action, or Crime there, for which they have been prosecuted ; as also in cafe that they were disguised as Christians, and had feigned to be of this Religion, we annul and make void the Causes of such Accusation, and will not permit that they be called to account for it, in our Dominions, on any Pretext whatsoever; in fine, we grant to the said Hebrews, the free Exercise of their Ceremonies, Solemnities, Use and Customs, according to the Jewish Laws, prohibiting their wearing publickly Cloaks, or other distinguishing Dress, under any Denomination whatsoever.

III. That the Hebrews shall not be subject to any Registry or consular Jurisdiction, nor to any Company of Tradesmen; but if any Difference arises between a Christian and a Jew, on some Affair concerning Arts and Trades, the Judge Delegate, who shall be named for this Purpose, shall be deemed a competent one, and decide it.

IV. We grant to the Hebrews and their Families, who shall establish their Residence in our States, to enjoy, in respect of their Commerce, either at home or abroad, the same Privileges, Franchises, and Immunities, which the other Citizens or Inhabitants of the said Cities or Places, do, or may enjoy.

V. That all their Moveables or Ornaments making a Part of their Apparel, acquired either within or without our Dominions, shall be exempt from paying any Customs, or Duty of Passage, at their Importation or Exportation.

VI. There shall be a Judge Delegate at Naples, Palermo, and Messina; and a Magistrate appointed at Messina as at Naples, who shall judge of the Differences that shall arise between a Christian and a Jew, or between two yews, in case that the Crimes merit a severer Chastisement than confining or banishing; and in other Cases, that they be carried exclusively before their People of the Law, and if they are wronged or aggrieved, they may recur to the Royal Protection of his Majesty.

VII. This Article regards the Punishment to be inflicted on the Jews, who shall frequent or keep Company with either Christians, Turk, or Moor.

VIII. This is to prevent the false Accusations, which may be intended against the Jews.

IX. If there happens any disastrous Accident to a Hebrew, that should oblige him to fail, and that he falls into Penury, so as to disable him from paying his Debts; in this Cafe the Merchandize, Bills of Exchange, and other Effects, or Money appertaining to any Correspondent, shall not be stopt to satisfy his said Debts.

X. Is relative to the Dowry of married Women.

XI. On the Subject of Sequestrations obtained against the Jews.

XII. Concerning the Validity of the Securities which the Jews shall give, when they shall be obliged to leave the Kingdom.

XIII. Permits the Hebrews to have all Sorts of Books, after being (however) inspected by their Delegate.

XIV. and XV. Favour the Jewish Physicians.

XVI. Grants them a publick Synagogue.

XVII. Leaves them at Liberty in regard of their Wills.

XVIII. In regard to Contracts of Purchase and Sale, or in Trade, in relation to the Jews in our Dominions, the Sales shall not be held as perfected, till after a Writing has passed between the Buyer and Seller, under their Hands, and confirmed by a Notary, or two Witnesses ; provided that if between Merchants in the Retail Way, at Fairs, Markets, &c. they be made without these Formalities, they shall have all Force, according to the usual Custom and Law, in regard to the other Inhabitants.

XXV. We grant to the Jews all the Favours, Privileges, and Faculties, enjoyed by the other Merchants of this Kingdom; they may exercise all Sorts of Trades, and Traffick; but it shall not be permitted them, after the Manner of our Subjects, to cry about the Streets, old Cloaths to fell: Though the Jews have Leave to sell and buy every one in particular, in his own House or Shop; none of them or their Family shall be obliged to wear any Mark that they may be known by.

XXXI. The Merchandize of the Jews, and of their Correspondents, and their Persons, coming to any Place whatsoever in our Ports, shall be free, as well in their Merchandizes and Persons, as the Ship which brings them, on Payment of the ordinary Customs, Gabelles, and Taxes, even when they have no Passport, provided that it appears by the Vessel's Documents, that it was destined with its Goods for one of our Ports, and no Magistrate or Officer shall molest either the Ships or any of the Effects; but on the contrary, shall observe our present Privilege, and in case of Disobedience, shall be punished, and all the Merchandizes restored to the Jews, with Charges and Expences, without any Hindrance real or personal.

XXXV. We grant to the Jews six Warehouses for their Use in the Customhouse of Naples Rent-free, since we consider them as our own Subjects; they may have also the like, in the other Customhouses of bur Kingdoms for their Conveniency, equally with the other Burgesses and Inhabitants, in Proportion to their Number and Trade, according to the Informations that their Declaration shall give in; and in case that the Magazines of the Customhouse are not sufficiently large to contain their Goods, it shall be permitted the Jews to hire others to their Liking, under the Guard and Inspection of the Customhouse Officers, enjoying the Privilege of Portos Francos, as if their Effects were inclosed in the Offices of the Customhouse.
Source : Wyndham Beawes, Jacques Savary, Jacques Savary des Brûlons. Lex mercatoria rediviva, or, The merchant's directory. Page 610-611

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