Acta Medica Mediterranea, 2012, 28: 41

 

 
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JEWISH SICILY AND MEDICINE BEFORE 1492
 
 
 
IGNAZIO VECCHIO*, Rav. Itzikach DavidS. DI MAURO**, CRISTINA TORNALI,* LUIGI RAMPELLO***, LIBORIO RAMPELLO***, PIETRO
 
CASTELLINO*
 
*Department of Medical and Pediatric Sciences, ** Sicilian Sephardic Center, Synagogue of Syracuse, ***“Gian Filippo Ingrassia!
 

Department, Neuroscience Unit , Vittorio Emanuele “G. Rodolico! University Hospital, University of Catania, Italy
 
              
 
[Sicilia ebraica e medicina ebraica prima del 1492]
 
 
 
 
 
ABSTRACT
 
The Jewish population of Sicily was one of those that may be called “a millenary Jewry”. This is our name for groups of Jews
 
who lived in one of the “Diaspora” countries for a thousand years or more. Jews had dwelt in Roman-Byzantine-Greek Sicily for
 
many generations prior to the Arab conquest. The evidence of a special relationship with Palestine, North Africa, and especially
 
Egypt, can be seen in letters from the Geniza Documents of Cairo.
 
The transitory period between Muslim and Christian Norman rule in the 12th and 13th century, seems to reflect a special influence
 
exerted by the Jews of Sicily and developed during the Aragonese domination, in the 14th century. Jews had a significant role
 
for the Mediterranean economy, but their role was important in the practice of medicine, with an excellent reputation until their
 
expulsion from Spain and Sicily, in 1492.
 
 
 
 
 
Key words: Middle Ages, Sicily, Medicine, Jews, history of medicine
 
 
 
 
 
Received August 29, 2012; Accepted Septemper 19, 2012
 
__________________________________________________
 
 
 
 
 
The Jewish presence in Sicily lasted about
 
1500 years, from Roman times to 1492, the year of
 
their expulsion from the island, after the edict of
 
Ferdinand II, King of Spain(1,2,12). Information on the
 
Jewish presence on the island, dating back to
 
Roman times, is very scarce(10,12).
 
In the early Middle Ages, Gregory the Great
 
(540-604 AD), with his “Epistles!, ten of which
 
concern the Jews of Sicily, has allowed us to draw
 
valuable information on the economic, social and
 
religious life of Sicilian Jews(13,14, 19).
 
The period of Byzantine rule offers though little
 
historical information about the Jews of Sicily(12, 15,19).
 
The situation improves, instead, in the Muslim period.
 
The Cairo “Geniza” is a place that has considerable
 
Jewish documentary material mostly regarding
 
the period between 1025 and 1266(15, 16,18,21).
 
The documents of the Geniza, found at the end
 
of the nineteenth century, contain information about
 
the Jews of the Mediterranean in medieval times,
 
including references to the Jews of Sicily, through
 
letters of Sicilian Jewish merchants to the Jews of
 
Egypt and North Africa. The documents of the
 
Geniza also reflected the passage from Muslim rule
 
to Norman rule in the eleventh century(15,16).
 
There is a wealth of information contained in
 
codes, legal texts and chronicles relating to the
 
Jewish presence in Sicily, in the Norman-Swabian
 
period (and, under Frederick II, there are many
 
accounts on the Jews in the economic, legal, and
 
religious fields, and on the privileges gained by the
 
Jews in Sicily, which increased further in the
 
Aragonese period(1,3,15).
 
The documents that testify to the presence of
 
Jews in Sicily, the Aragonese period alone(3) are
 
more numerous than those for the entire period
 
from Roman times up to the Aragonese age, and are
 
of Christian governmental origin or of a notarial
 
nature. The documentation on Sicilian Jews in the
 
same period is lacking, as in 1492, Jews were not
 
allowed any time to save the archives of their communities
 
prior to their expulsion from Sicily.
 
The Jews of Sicily were absorbed, after 1492,
 
almost entirely, by other Jewish communities in the
 
Mediterranean and their traditions have been largely
 
lost after a few generations(20).
                                                                                                                
 
42                                               I. Vecchio, S. Di Mauro et Al
 
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The demographics of the Jews in Sicily in
 
ancient times and in the Middle Ages, before the
 
Aragonese age, has never been reliably documented,
 
even if for example we know that Rabbi
 
Benjamin of Tudela who journeyed from Spain to
 
Sicily in 1170, testified to the presence of two hundred
 
Jews in Messina and about fifteen hundred
 
Jews in Palermo(4).
 
The period that goes from 1300 to 1400 offers
 
more detailed demographic data(2,3). The figure
 
reported by Di Giovanni(2), of one hundred thousand
 
Jews is disputed by later historians, and the figures
 
given by other scholars such as Ashtor(20) range
 
between 20,000 and 48,000 Jews on the island.
 
In describing the history of the Jews of Sicily
 
before 1492, the first thing to be emphasized is that
 
Jews were present on the island for over a thousand
 
years. The second finding concerns the historical
 
‘specificity’ of Sicilian Jews. Clearly, the arrival of
 
the Jews in Sicily dates back to the destruction of
 
the temple and the beginnings of the “diaspora” in
 
70 AD(19). Without going into the merits of the historical
 
analysis of the periods ranging from the fall
 
of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD to 1492,
 
Sicily witnessed the succession of imperial Roman
 
and later Byzantine rule, Muslim domination, the
 
Christian period, the Norman-Swabian period,
 
Angevin rule, Aragonese rule, and Spanish rule.
 
In these difficult historical periods, the Jewish
 
population of Sicily, over ten or more centuries,
 
was always different, in terms of religious beliefs,
 
from the majority, while coexisting with it.
 
The Jew of Sicily, not a wandering Jew, but a
 
Sicilian Jew for a thousand or a thousand and three
 
hundred years, was, as such, a servant of the “Royal
 
Chamber”, an ambiguous status, which in fact, in
 
15th-century Sicily, did not deprive Jews, either as
 
individuals or as a community, of any personal,
 
political or religious freedom(17,18).
 
Belonging to the “Royal Chamber” prevented
 
the assimilation of the Jewish population into the
 
local population(1,2,3,4,5). At the time of their expulsion
 
in 1492, the Jewish community of Sicily was composed
 
of about 40 to 50 thousand inhabitants(20).
 
In 1492, the Jewish population of Sicily
 
amounted to about 6300 “fires”, calculating that
 
every fire consisted of 6 members. The figure is
 
contained in a document dated June 9, 1492, in
 
which, the viceroy of Sicily, having to affix the
 
royal seal on the door of every Jewish home, whose
 
property was confiscated, ordered the printer
 
Andria De Bruya to print 6300 copies (1.2,3,20).
 
The size of the Sicilian Jewish population of
 
6300 fires, divided into about 52 communities, with
 
a population equal to 5% of the total population of
 
the island, made the Sicilian Jewish community the
 
most numerous, wealthiest and most influential
 
among the Jewish communities of Western Europe
 
and the entire Mediterranean area. It should be
 
pointed out, from a historical perspective, that
 
Sicilian Jewry was closer to Spain than to Italy.
 
In 1492, there were about fifty ghettos in
 
Sicily(17). The ghettos were Jewish neighborhoods
 
located within the various Christian communities,
 
genuine self-governing bodies, endowed with their
 
own legal status. The laws of the city were
 
Christian laws, while the law of the ghetto was
 
Mosaic law.
 
In fact and in law, the ghetto was an independent
 
body within the Christian city that could guarantee
 
the Jewish minority its autonomy, both formal
 
and de facto, from the Christian majority, with
 
regard to both legal and religious affairs(12, 15,18).
 
The Jewish population of Sicily, as already
 
pointed out, amounted to 5% of the population in
 
1492, but unlike the Christian population, which
 
was distributed in all parts of the island, it favored
 
some specific places.
 
In fact, 20,000 of the approximately 45, thousand
 
Jews, were present in six cities: Palermo,
 
Messina, Catania, Syracuse, Agrigento and Trapani.
 
The Palermo ghetto had five thousand inhabitants,
 
and just as many lived in the Syracuse ghetto.
 
The Messina and Trapani ghettos had two
 
thousand five hundred inhabitants each, and two
 
thousand lived in Agrigento and Catania. Along the
 
coastal strip of Trapani-Marsala-Mazara-Sciacca,
 
one-third of the resident population was Jewish and
 
two-thirds Christian. The Jewish influence on the
 
economic, social, political and cultural life of
 
Sicily’s cities was significant, indicating that the
 
Jewish roots in Sicily were not recent, but very
 
remote. Different from the Christians, often socially
 
and politically discriminated, in Sicily, the Jews
 
were nonetheless integrated into the reality in
 
which they were born and where their families
 
lived for several generations.
 
Sicilian Jews owned houses and lands, like
 
any other Sicilian, and ran thriving businesses. The
 
only thing that was not granted to the Jews was the
 
acquisition of an aristocratic title(1,2,3). Therefore, a
 
Jew could not become a baron, could not be a royal
 
official, nor cover high government positions or
 
command over Christians.
 
 
 
Jewish Sicily and medicine before 1492                                      43                                                                                                                     
 
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Jews were often craftsmen, shopkeepers,
 
tradesmen, merchants, and bankers experienced in
 
operations concerning the rationing of supplies to
 
the ghettos and cities and trade between Sicily and
 
the international markets of the time(18).
 
However, in some professions, including medicine
 
and veterinary sciences, the Jews of Sicily
 
made a name for themselves(6,10).
 
The government and notarial documents(2.3)
 
kept in Sicily’s state archives bear witness to the
 
remarkable historical contribution of the Jews on
 
the island. These documents have been widely studied
 
and analyzed in research on Jews, by Giovanni
 
Di Giovanni(2), the first in 1748 to deal with the the
 
history of Judaism in the island, followed by the
 
Laguminas (1885)(3), Matteo Gaudioso(11) and Eliahu
 
Ashtor(20) and many others. The office of universal
 
and single judge, the “Dienchelele” (from the
 
Hebrew word “Daian Kelali” which means the
 
judge general), established in 1395, was abolished
 
in 1447(1,2,3.4).
 
The Sicilian population was more tolerant
 
towards the Jews than elsewhere. The Jewish community
 
of Sicily provided good physicians, who,
 
for a long time, were prohibited though from exercising
 
the profession among Christians(3,8,10).
 
If a Jewish physician gained a reputation as
 
being an excellent professional and a great expert in
 
the medical arts, as was often the case, he would be
 
granted a special dispensation of the King of Sicily,
 
in order to treat Christians all over the island(4).
 
Jewish physicians in Sicily who obtained royal
 
special dispensation were:
 
Magliucco Greco from Polizzi, Benedetto Vita
 
from Marsala, Benedetto Bonavoglia from Messina,
 
Jacopo Criso and many others(3).
 
Under the reign of Alfonso (1450), Jews were
 
granted the freedom of practicing medicine both
 
among Israelites and Christians(8).
 
The growing and renowned reputation as good
 
physicians allowed the Jews to be called also to
 
care for kings and their courtiers, so much so that
 
Jewish physicians were awarded the role of medical
 
officers of the royal family(3,4).
 
A year or so, after the slaughter of the Angevins
 
in Sicily during the famous Sicilian Vespers, on
 
January 24, 1283, King Peter of Aragon confirmed
 
his royal and authoritative trust, in Sicily, to master
 
David, Jewish physician of the Royal Chamber, his
 
brothers and other family members, heirs of the
 
famous master Busac, a famous and appreciated
 
Jewish physician in Palermo(3.4).
 
Jewish physicians could, therefore, not only
 
maintain the privileges granted to them by the
 
Swabian emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen
 
(1237), but also consolidate them later, under
 
Aragonese rule in Sicily.
 
Jewish physicians also gained the privilege for
 
their professional merits not to pay mortgages,
 
duties, and taxes. An influential and appreciated
 
Jewish physician was Joseph Abanasia, who in
 
Sicily became medical examiner of all the Jews of
 
the island and was a member of the committee for
 
medical-surgical licensing, alongside the famous
 
archiater Roger, called “pride of the kingdom”
 
(1404-05)(4).
 
Josef Abanasia was the first “Dienchelele”,
 
namely supreme judge of all the Jews of Sicily, at
 
the behest of King Alfonso.
 
The second Dienchelele of Sicily was
 
Bonavoglia, beloved by King Alfonso himself, who
 
often wanted him both at the court in Palermo and
 
during his travels. Other Dienchelele of Sicily was
 
Brachano de Xacta.
 
Between 1362 and 1492, some 170 Jews were
 
able to practice medicine in Sicily.
 
A certain Aaron De Sacerdotu was also authorized
 
in 1448 to prepare medicines (first license
 
ever granted to Jews).
 
A certain master Vita Susan, in Catania, was
 
exonerated on merits, from the payment of local
 
taxes for his work with the poor in the town at the
 
foot of Mount Etna (1457).
 
A piece of important historical news regards
 
Virdimura(7), a Jewish woman from Catania, wife of
 
Pasquale de Medico, who asked and obtained, in
 
1376, from the physicians of the Kingdom of Sicily,
 
the official authorization to practice medicine in the
 
entire Kingdom of Sicily, especially for the poor.
 
Even Donna Bella di Pajia was granted the
 
authorization to the practice the art of medicine and
 
surgery in Sicily, by the Aragonese queen Bianca
 
(1414)(3,4).
 
A famous Jewish physician was Moise Medici
 
who went to Padua, in 1416, to improve his skills,
 
and after three years, he was examined by the archiater
 
D’Alessandro, becoming Dienchelele immediately
 
after(3).
 
After centuries of prestige in the medical field,
 
privileges and fame ended suddenly for the Jews of
 
Sicily after the famous edict of King Ferdinand II
 
who expelled all members of the Jewish community
 
from the kingdom of Spain and Sicily.
 
Physicians, Rabbis, artisans, rich and poor,
 
                                                                                                                                 
   44                                                          I. Vecchio, S. Di Mauro et ____________________________________________________
 
 
 
famous and humble, all the Jews of Sicily were
 
forced to meet in Palermo (1492), to be expelled
 
permanently from Sicily(20).
 
Therefore, the island was impoverished in
 
trade, the arts, culture and health. The great shame
 
of anti-Semitism was followed in the 16th century
 
by a slow and sporadic reappearance of Jews in
 
Sicily, and with them Jewish physicians.
 
The civil and religious government of the
 
island did not grant them the favors and consideration
 
that they had received on the island before their
 
expulsion in 1492. Jews were watched and harassed
 
and the Holy Office of the Catholic Church was
 
harsh and ruthless in pursuing Jews suspected of
 
abandoning the Christian faith, with convictions
 
and expulsions.
 
As for the city of Catania(6,8,11), we can say that
 
the Jewish presence in the city was documented as
 
early as the fourth century of the Christian era.
 
Jewish men, in Catania, always discriminated
 
compared to the rest of the Christian population,
 
had to show the mark of the “wheel” on their
 
clothes. However, the Jews never suffered discriminatory
 
excesses by the rest of the population of
 
Catania, and were able to devote themselves to
 
crafts, trade and lending activities.
 
From the thirteenth century, in the field of
 
medicine, Sicily became an island coveted by the
 
health professionals who would come from Salerno,
 
famous for its medical school, or from northern
 
Italy, where there were schools of medicine at a
 
university level, to Sicily in search of professional
 
achievement, before the birth of the University of
 
Catania, in 1434.
 
The Jews were those who excellently made up
 
for the shortage of physicians in Sicily.
 
Between 1360 and 1492, there were about 170
 
Jewish physicians in Sicily who made medicine
 
their favorite art.(3,4). Jewish physicians first met
 
with difficulties, caught between distrust and prohibitions.
 
In the first half of the thirteenth century, the
 
Church banned Jewish physicians from practicing
 
medicine on Christians, and Frederick III of
 
Aragon, King of Sicily, in 1310, confirmed the ban,
 
abolished later by Alfonso of Aragon in 1451.
 
However, the clerics and the ruling class of
 
Sicily did not hesitate to take advantage of the now
 
renowned professionalism of Sicily’s Jewish physicians,
 
in the face of their own bans.
 
When the University of Catania was established
 
in 1434, access to the Jews was more burdensome
 
due to the much higher taxes they had to pay.
 
The marriage of Queen Mary and the young
 
King Martin, in 1391, during the period of
 
Aragonese rule of Sicily, put an end to a controversial
 
dispute over the succession to the throne of the
 
kingdom. The Aragonese court was experiencing in
 
a time of difficulty because both the island’s clergy,
 
linked only to the interests of the papacy in Rome,
 
and the feudal lords, which had become too powerful
 
and influential, had become a serious obstacle to
 
Aragonese “leadership” in Sicily. In this complex
 
context of political struggles, the Jews of Sicily,
 
they too powerful, played an important role.
 
In addition, it should be noted that the Jews in
 
Sicily, as they were subject to the special legal status
 
of subjects of the “Royal Chamber”, which
 
began in the Norman period and adopted, later, also
 
by Frederick II and confirmed by his successors,
 
proved to be indispensable allies of the Aragonese
 
court, to whom they offered their invaluable support,
 
receiving, at various levels, favors and privileges,
 
which were added to those already acquired.
 
The gratitude of the Aragonese rulers towards
 
the Jews of Sicily is documented through the many
 
orders given to the nobles of the kingdom to respect
 
the Jews. The subsequent period of Aragonese domination,
 
under King Alfonso, was after the reign of
 
Martin, very benevolent and profitable for Sicily’s
 
Jewish community, which succeeded in consolidating
 
the now prosperous economic and trade activities
 
between the island and the rest of the
 
Mediterranean(1,3).
 
Furthermore, Sicily enjoyed a period of peace
 
that allowed the emergence of a manufacturing
 
middle class composed of merchants, entrepreneurs
 
and bankers, among whom the Jews were the most
 
able and professional(5). The period of Alfonso’s
 
reign recorded, though, the outbreak of an unexpected
 
epidemic, in the years between 1422 and
 
1425, which led to the need to take advantage of the
 
professional services of the numerous and much
 
appreciated Jewish physicians of the island, who
 
succeeded in acquiring benefits and glory thanks to
 
their intervention(1,3).
 
In Trapani, in 1423, the health emergency
 
exalted the merits of the Jewish physician Chanino
 
Maymono(3). It should be noted that the periods of
 
medical emergency were not the only ones to
 
ensure that Jewish physicians were appreciated
 
throughout the island, whose major cities hosted
 
Jewish communities that for some time established
 
real schools of medicine known to all.
 
Of Sicily’s towns, Marsala was home to a
 

                                                                                                                        
45                                                         I. Vecchio, S. Di Mauro et Al
 
 
 
prosperous and thriving Jewish community that had
 
skilled and appreciated physicians.
 
The same applies to Erice.
 
A document dated 1452(1,2,3,4,8) cites Chaim de
 
Faraiono, a physician and wealthy landowner, and
 
“Ioseph Lu Medicu”. Among the many Jews who
 
had succeeded in obtaining a license for “physicians”,
 
we should remember(1,3):
 
Abraham Abenset from Trapani (1373), Ioseph
 
from Marsala (1373), Moisen Missuto from
 
Mazara, Machaluffo from Marsala (1375).
 
In 1404 Iacob Sanson from Marsala obtained a
 
license and in 1413 Benedetto de Gilfa from
 
Trapani.
 
In 1431, a certain Mathaffuni from Trapani
 
obtained a license. He was also authorized to practice
 
the art of surgery.
 
In 1438, Machalufo from Marsala, Benedetto
 
Vita from Marsala and Samuele Mayris from
 
Trapani were authorized for both medicine and
 
surgery.
 
In 1443, Farachio from Mazara was licensed
 
to practice “medicine”.
 
Among the many Jewish physicians of Sicily,
 
Moyse Medici de Bonavoglia of Messina stands
 
out. Thanks to the favors granted by King Alfonso,
 
he succeeded in studying at the renowned
 
University of Padua.
 
Jewish physicians were granted the title of
 
“Magister”, Christian physicians the title of “doctor”.
 
The widely acknowledged merit of Jews in the
 
medical arts forced many Christians to be the
 
“apprentices” of Jewish physicians.
 
However, the completion of medical studies
 
required an examination before a “Committee”
 
which, in Sicily was formed only by Christian
 
physicians for a long period of time. Then, the
 
“Dienchelele” (supreme judge of the Sicilian
 
Jewish community), was added alongside Sicily’s
 
Christian “archiater”.
 
The Jewish doctors were authorized by law to
 
practice medicine only in the Jewish community,
 
but the most famous among them were allowed to
 
practice medicine even among Christians. Some
 
Jews even managed to become doctors of the
 
“Royal Chamber” and “Queen’s Chamber”.
 
A certain Aharon de Sacerdotu from Geraci, in
 
1448, obtained the license to practice both as a
 
physician and apothecary.
 
In 1414, the Jewish physician Manuel Nicosia
 
succeeded, thanks to his recognized professional
 
merit, to avoid a severe punishment, because he
 
dared to practice medicine even among Christians,
 
without permission.
 
Sicily’s Jewish physicians were able to achieve
 
a significant professional prestige that helped them
 
even to accumulate wealth that would allow them to
 
purchase real estate in various parts of the island.
 
Once authorized, they also became a point of reference
 
for lending money, which enabled them, thanks
 
to the interest collected, to consolidate their already
 
prosperous economic position.
 
In their “Codice Diplomatico dei Giudei in
 
Sicilia” (1884-1895) the Laguminas describe the
 
presence of Jewish physicians in Sicily in the following
 
places: Catania, Bivona, Castrogiovanni
 
(Enna), Castroreale, Demenna (San Marco
 
D’Alunzio), Geraci,, Girgenti (Agrigento), Lentini,
 
Marsala, Mazara, Messina, Mineo, Modica,
 
Nicosia, Noto, Palermo, Piazza, Polizzi, Ragusa,
 
Randazzo, Monte San Giuliano (Erice), Syracuse,
 
Taormina, Trapani.
 
In Catania, the presence of Jewish physicians
 
was not only significant by tradition, but also was
 
able to play an influential role in the newborn
 
University of Catania (1434) at the School of
 
Medicine.
 
The following Jewish physicians are worth
 
being remembered:
 
Giovannuccio de Ripa who, in 1361, became
 
physician of King Frederick IV; Nicolao de Branca
 
(1324), Giacomo di Licata (1350), Gualtiero Pesci
 
(1367), Nicolao de Usina (1396), Enrico
 
Campixano (1424), Nicolao di Ansalone (1425),
 
and Antonio de Alexandro (1423).
 
In Catania, the Bonfiglio family became
 
famous and it could also boast a famous physician
 
named Roberto.
 
Another famous family was that of the Juveni
 
(Gioieni) who in the fifteenth century included
 
three professors of surgery (Antonio, Ieronimo, and
 
Miuchio) at the University of Catania.
 
The Jews also managed to express an “archiater”
 
of Sicily, Blasco Scammacca, in 1398.
 
In the period between 1364 and 1492 the
 
“Magistri Fisici” who managed to obtain the authorization
 
to practice in Sicily were:
 
Matteo Xadicuno (1364), Salomone di Catania
 
(1394), Leone Masano (1422), Jacopo Criso (1425),
 
Farachio (1428), Gaudio Muxano (1445), Gabriele
 
da Lentini (1475), Vitale Aurifici (1492)(6).
 
The following surgeons should be remembered:
 
Yoseph de Crixio di Brachono (1422), Gaudio
 
 
 
46                                                   I. Vecchio,S.Di Mauro et Al
 
__________________________________________________
 
 
 
de Girachio (1475), Aharon di Lu Presti (1429),
 
member of a famous Jewish family of physicians.
 
Another family of Jewish physicians in the fifteenth
 
century, the Xusens (Vita, Bulfarachio and
 
Joseph), natives of the town of Mineo on Mount
 
Etna, moved to Catania, and became popular and
 
famous. One of them, Joseph, was renowned for his
 
services rendered free of charge to the poor of
 
Catania.
 
In various parts of Europe, there were
 
Christian and Jewish women who, over the centuries,
 
were caregivers, especially as midwives, but
 
Sicily can boast the primacy of having had women
 
physicians, authorized by law, with regular title and
 
license to practice medicine.
 
In 1376, Virdimura(6,7,8), wife of Pasquale de
 
Medico, a Jew from Catania obtained the license to
 
practice medicine throughout the island after a regular
 
examination before a “Commission”.
 
In 1414, Bella di Pajia, as already stressed, also
 
was authorized to practice surgery in all the lands of
 
the “Queen’s Chamber”, thanks to the intervention of
 
Queen Bianca, who granted her the privilege not to
 
pay taxes and duties that others had to.
 
Before 1492, Sicily had a long medical tradition,
 
thanks to the work of the Jews, which benefited
 
rulers, nobles, the clergy, the poor and helpless.
 
Historically, Sicily’s Jewish community,
 
always respecting the Mosaic and Talmudic tradition,
 
was, until 1492, the largest Jewish community
 
in the Mediterranean, after Israel, having a “specificity’
 
and presence that lasted 1500 years.
 
It wrote a page in history and culture that is to
 
be reviewed and deserves a greater and more stimulating
 
insight.
 
The Jews, while playing a role in the millennialhistory of Sicily, managed to find points of contact
 
with other cultures, which led to an “exchange”
 
of values and knowledge that made Sicily, before
 
1492, a “laboratory” of coexistence and tolerance
 
for long periods of time. Jewish Sicily and
 
Medicine before 1492, set in the right place of universal
 
memory, deserve greater attention not only
 
from scholars of the history of medicine, but also
 
from many others.
 
References
 
1) N. Bucaria, Sicilia Judaica, Flaccovio, Palermo 1996,
 
pg. 52-61.
 
2) G. Di Giovanni, L’Ebraismo della Sicilia ricercato ed
 
esposto, G. Gramignani, Palermo 1748, pg. 266-275,
 
(anastatic copy, Forni ED. Bologna, 1967).
 
3) B. e G. Lagumina, Codice diplomatico dei Giudei in
 
Sicilia, 3 Vol., M. Amenta, Palermo, 1884-1895
 
(anastatic copy, foreword by R. Giuffrida, Societa’
 
siciliana per la storia patria, Palermo, 1990).
 
4) G. Pitrè, Medici, Chirurghi, barbieri e speziali antichi in
 
Sicilia, Secoli XIII-XVIII, edited by G. Gentile, Casa
 
Editrice del Libro Italiano, Rome, 1942, pg. 98-108.
 
5) C. Roth, Jewish Intellectual Life in Medieval Sicily, in
 
The Jewish Quarterly Review, 47 (1956-1957), pg.
 
317-335.
 
6) A. Precopi Lombardo, Medici Ebrei nella Sicilia
 
Medievale, in Trapani, Rassegna della Provincia,
 
XXIX (1984), pg. 25-28.
 
7) A. Precopi Lombardo, Virdimura, dottoressa ebrea del
 
medioevo siciliano, La Fardelliana, 3 (1984), pg. 361-364.
 
8) J. Shatzmiller, Jewish Physicians in Sicily, in Italia
 
Judaica. Gli ebrei in Sicilia sino all’espulsione del
 
1492, Proceedings of the 5th International Conference
 
(Palermo, 15-19 June 1992), Ministry for Cultural and
 
Environmental Heritage, Rome 1995, p. 347-354.
 
9) C. Fontana, Gli Ebrei in Catania nel sec. XV, Galati,
 
Catania, 1909.
 
10) S. Fodale, Mosè Bonavoglia ed il contestato “judicatus
 
generalis” sugli ebrei siciliani, in Gli Ebrei in Sicilia
 
dal tardoantico al medioevo. Studi in onore di Mons.
 
Benedetto Rocco, edited by N. Bucaria, Flaccovio,
 
Palermo 1998, pg. 99-109.
 
11) M. Gaudioso, La comunità ebraica di Catania nei secoli
 
XIV e XV, Giannotta, Catania, 1974.
 
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tardo antica in “Archivio storico per la Sicilia
 
Orientale”, 75 (1979), pg. 241-275.
 
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Documents 492-1401, Toronto, 1988, p. 3.
 
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Sicilia, Volume in memoria di A. Vivian. Bologna,
 
1993, pg. 511.
 
15) M. Ben Sasson, The Jewish of Sicily 825-1068.
 
Documents and Sources, Jerusalem, 1991.
 
16) N. Zeldes, A Geniza Letter Pertaining to the History of
 
Sicilia Jewish in Muslim Period, in Zion, 53 (1988), pg.
 
57.
 
17) M.R. Mancuso, Insediamenti ebraici in Sicilia, in
 
Architettura Judaica in Italia: ebraismo, sito, memoria
 
dei luoghi, Flaccovio, Palermo 1994, pg. 154-156.
 
18) E. Ashtor, Gli ebrei nel commercio mediterraneo nell’alto
 
medioevo in “Settimane di studio del Centro italiano
 
di Studi sull’altomedioevo”, 26 (1980), pg. 401-464.
 
19) S. Boesch Gajano, Per una storia degli ebrei in
 
Occidente tra Antichita’ e Medievo. La testimonianza
 
di Gregorio Magno, in “Quaderni Medievali”, 8
 
(1979), pg. 12-43.
 
20) E. Ashtor, La fin du Judaism sicilien in “Revue des
 
Etudes Juives”, 142, (1983), pg. 323-347.
 
21) S. D. Goitein, Sicily and Southern Italy in the Cairo
 
Geniza Documents, in “Archivio Storico per la Sicilia
 
orientale”, 67 (1971), pg. 9-33.
 
________
 
Request reprints from:
 
Prof. IGNAZIO VECCHIO
 
Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche Pediatriche
 
Policlinico dell’Università
 
Via Santa Sofia 78,
 
95123 Catania, (Italy)
 



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