The Jews in the Middle Ages

The Roman dominion had been established in Gaul so strongly that there, from the fifth century, only the authority of his great literature was seen to reign. Under the government of Honorius, the Gauls flourished saw renowned academies, and each of the thirteen provinces had its schools, its teachings shaped on the general rules that Rome gave to the world [76]. In short, the Gallic academies also rose in fame. Lyons, Arli, Sens, for a long time resounded with grammatical disputations; the Narbonese Gaul had its poets and prose writers like the Lyons and the Belgians, and they saw their arcades populated by thousands of schoolchildren, who awoke to the crowing of the cock, like the clients mentioned by Venosino. The Romans had ceded their customs and habits to the Gauls, and the Emperor Caracalla, by giving everyone the title of [29]citizens, had destroyed the distinctions of conquest. The Gauls had traditions of their own, and stories and annals of the homeland which were preserved in the temples [77] . In this way the institutions and Druidic letters came to mingle with the teachings of Rome, and when the Franks settled in their turn in the subjugated provinces, when the sons of Clovis spread their domain everywhere around, they too bore the songs of their own. ancestors, and the Germanic traditions so common among the northern peoples.

In Gaul then you can find three literatures all of a sudden, one meeting the other, all of which lend each other language, words, thoughts. The first was Gallic only, with the imprint of the religion and customs of the Druids; the second classical and Roman, however, that the conquerors spread their language and books everywhere; in the Gallic cities that became municipalities, Cicero, Lucretius, Virgil were studied, and in the schools of Lyons, Bordò and Lutetia [78]the papyri of Greece and Rome were read and recited, to all that were added lastly the Frankish traditions and the songs of Germany which recounted the glorious deeds of the conquering warriors. This mixture of literatures appeared in the seventh and eighth centuries; there is nothing clear, nothing that holds of a single origin; in the monasteries, in the schools, the Fathers of the Church, the authors of Greece and Rome comment, and to persuade them that the clergy of those times was far ahead in the study of the Greek and Roman classics, you just need to scroll through the texts of Gregory by Tours and Fredegario, where quotations from Homer and Virgil are frequent; sometimes it seems the philosophers of antiquity are cited together with the holy fathers, and called with their sentences in aid of religion. The bishops and the cherics, little less than all the Gauls, tamed as they were with the welcome studies of the Roman forum, disdainfully threw the name of Barbari on themselves, each monastery was a school of wisdom in which grammar, philosophy and history were taught. The civilization, in passing over a people, leaves there profound vestiges, so that the cheriches of the Gauls were proud of the wisdom of Rome, and the peoples of the same conquerors tamed themselves by the studies of antiquity.

Frankish literature shrinks, like all primitive traditions, into narrative songs, tales of warriors and poets. He wished to preserve the memory of his ancestors, of the glorious feats of arms [30]who had illustrated the conquest; therefore the skalds are in every place, because in every place where there are forests and sacred ares, and conquering peoples, they are also always hot fantasies that transmit to posterity the memory of heroic actions [79]. We have no great poem that is connected to this era, but only brief passages of more accomplished works. The legends were only narrative songs more especially monastic; the studies lay confined within the cells; there manuscripts, parchments, papyri from Rome and Constantinople; the national chronicles were written there, the memory of the past was consecrated there; science came from monastic studies. All the works of that time show a mixture of Roman and Germanic ideas; there is nothing that has entirely preserved its character; the first footsteps of civilization blend naturally and tread among themselves.

This commotion occurs in particular in language and grammar. No one doubts that the Gauls did not have an idiom with its rules and principles; this Celtic language was spoken throughout the territory of Gaul, from the Sum to the Rhone, and the Romans who found it established in the provinces, respected it as they used to do with every ancient institution of peoples; but also Latin became the usual language of all the administrations, of the praetor and of the courts established in Gaul. The Celtic language was left to the people, and Latin became the language of the civilized peoples, nor did it hardly go that the Germanic language spoken by the conquerors was also mixed with these two languages; hence the same confusion was seen as in literature; there was a vulgar speech, composed of all languages; the Latin language became corrupted and blended with frank endings and Celtic words. The diplomas and chronicles of that time prove this confusion, which preceded the formation of a regulated language[80] .

The writing underwent the same alteration, so that Merovingian diplomas can hardly be read, the Roman characters and italics are poorly formed, nor is there any longer a trace of that regularity that points to and distinguishes the Carolingic script, mainly in manuscripts, as long as this too gets lost in a new confusion in the rough times [31]and feudal. Merovingian diplomas are often found written on papyrus, the use of monograms already beginning, and the seals generally consist of ancient stones; the characters are long and badly marked, numerous and misleading the abbreviations. You encounter this form of writing from Merovingian times on tombstones, in inscriptions as well as in diplomas; it is marked with a particular character of its own, and proves the little progress of civil uses. A small number of diplomas have survived the great destruction of time, and it can be seen that at the age of the Merovei the big letters stand out.

In those times of turmoil and conquests, science is reduced to a few, primordial elements; the ancient world is not much done before in the special studies of nature, and in the knowledge of the causes that move animate entities; there is no vestige of mathematics, the science of calculus does not go beyond simple usual operations; it is counted in the manner of the Romans, and is measured according to the custom of the Gauls. The ecclesiastical regulations alone oblige the cherics and the faithful to some study, to some astronomical knowledge; movable feasts are regulated on the events of the moon; it is a job to know the course to determine the four Tempora, the foundation of all the calculations of the year; the calendars start from the two holidays of Easter and Christmas; the days are fewer than the solemnities;[81] . “Charlemagne spent Easter in Fulda, Christmas in Mainz, Pentecost in Quercy or Compiegne.” Such are the repetitions of the chronicles; there are few regular calendars, all are composed by different forms, and the signs of the zodiac borrowed from Rome and Greece. The hours are counted with the help of the tacit powder orioles that become the meters of time. The studies of the stars are almost all reminiscent of the Alexandrian schools, and mechanics mainly, in the progress she makes, is rather a science of dexterity than a calculation of wise geometry.

The arts, music, painting, architecture, also take their purest source in the studies of Rome and Greece. The solemn study of still song is imprinted with a Germanic character; if a concert of sweet voices in the Roman and pontifical Church produces greater variety, and gives the sacred canticles more sweetness; the still, grave song belongs in essence to a Frankish origin; the false staff that sounds like the voice of thunder, the double bass points, and the bassoon did not come from Italian, Greek or Lombard customs, [32]but of Frankish origin as they are by necessity, they are also austere like the gray sky of the North, like the druidic forests, like the cold marble of the cathedrals. For a long time the contest of Germanic chant against Roman chant lasted; the Frankish cathedrals held as their property the canto still and the antiphons of their majors, and the Roman chants had a lot to do in introducing themselves into the basilicas of Gaul [82] .

The different epochs of the architectural arts can never, nor must they be confused together; the Gallic monuments, almost all inform, show you the image of temples just chiseled, of druidic altars sown here and there in vast plains, in the midst of moors, in mobile arenas. The great Roman school which shows itself in the beautiful monuments of the cities of Arli, Nimes, d’Autun and Sens, disappears in the destruction of the empire, and other ideas arise together with the conquerors. The forms of temples dedicated to the Gods of the ancient world repugnant to Christianity, he wants to have a concept of his own, and creates the basilica as we still see it in some of the earliest churches in Rome [83]. This is the age of art that arises from the third and fourth centuries, the Byzantine form, is the first source of all inspiration; the pointed arch with its sharp marbles is not yet seen, but the masses of small columns pressed over low domes and under inclined vaults.

It seems to me that Christian basilicas have three eras; the first, which is connected with the times when the cross came out of the catacombs to present itself to the light of the world, when the architecture is all as simple as the faith that one hurled towards God; a building only as much or as ornamented, vôlte without arches, facade without columns as appears to us in the ancient vestiges that one sees in Rome; or if there is still some wreckage of a column, this is because the basilica was built on some pagan temple consecrated to the immortal gods. The second period belongs to Byzantine art: the columned pronaos, without pointed arches, the façade with low doors, the simple and bare temple which soon merges with the Lombard style. Finally the third period comes, the period of art with pointed arches, which is not found beyond the eleventh century. It is there that the frastagli, the decorations, the bell towers and the domes hovering in the air begin: up to the Carolingians, and throughout their dynasty, only Roman, Byzantine and Lombard forms can be seen.

[33]
The original basilica has few ornaments, whereas the Byzantine school is more lavish. The West and the East were divided by the schism over the cult of images; the highly imaginative Italians and the Greeks, heirs of the great school of Athens, loved the statues and paintings that portrayed the saints and martyrs, the Virgin with sweet eyes, the suffering poor, the martyr who resigned himself. The question of images is the greatest that has ever occurred in history, as far as art is concerned, since it is in fact nothing other than the great conflict between the enthusiasm of the artists and the cold puritanism, so to speak, of the rationalists. If the austere doctrines had prevailed, if the proscribed Church had the representations of the images of God and his saints, of the devout stories of sufferings of life and the triumph of the soul, we would be without masterpieces of the centuries of the Risorgimento, nor would Michelangelo and Raphael born to populate the Christian world with their magnificent works. The artists owe great and deep gratitude to Catholicism, and mainly to the papal podestà, in which Catholicism is sovereignly personified; the popes prevailed this beautiful theology carved and colored in the masterpieces of sculpture and painting.

We find few images in the early days of the Church; only a few shapeless statues of the Apostles crouched here and there next to the columns of the Greek and Roman school [84] . Sometimes you see the vestiges of ancient art in Christian monuments, and in the rare tombs of the third and fourth centuries, as seen in the Vatican, or in the church of San Massimino in Provenza [85] ; Christ and the Apostles are depicted there with ornaments of the Roman school [86]. It will be seen that in these monuments Christ is always represented in the figure as a young man, barely twenty years old; When the Middle Ages came, Christ too was made old, but that the time is unhappy, and Christ suffers like the people, that he is a people too; the features of the Virgin, on the other hand, are subject to a completely opposite modification; in the early days it is as old as one [34]grieving mother, with the wrinkles and pallor that Rubens reproduced in his Deposition from the cross; but as we approach the Middle Ages she rejuvenates, as can be seen in the miniatures of the twelfth century. The Byzantine school is more lavish with statues, ornaments, arabesques; on the marble of the baptistery and at the end of the sanctuary images of a very bright blue and red are seen; on those frescoes or on those wooden paintings, the face of Christ shines with fixed and penetrating eyes; St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Bartholomew, so often reproduced in the works of the Byzantine school, make a procession to him in his preaching, while he extends his arms to them. In all these relics of the school of Constantinople we can clearly see the martyrology of the Greek basilicas, and the imprint of the Late Empire: in Ravenna, in Rome, in Milan, the greatness of Byzantine art can be seen everywhere.

These primitive churches are simple in general, and you enter them through the pronaos, uncovered and surrounded by low galleries, where you can see the remains of statues and images; the baptistery is located under the portico, since in those days, before entering the church, it was necessary to wear a neophyte’s tunic. Next to the baptistery stands a marble chair, from which the word of God is proclaimed to the people. The temple is naked, simple in its naves, and in its inclined vaults, behind the high altar there are almost always those figures of Christ on the background of gold, together with the apostles who still follow you with their fixed eyes, and splendid with power and life [88]. In the ancient provinces of the Gauls there are still churches with their triple Roman, Byzantine, and pointed arches character; the remains of the abbey of San Vittore in Marseille, give you an image of what a primitive church was at the time of the persecutions, with its basements and its catacombs that pass under the waters of the port, to join the Maggiore built on a ancient temple of Diana [89] . Almost for the entire extension of the Gauls, the pointed arched churches were built on the ruins of the first basilicas.

Sculpture also took away its splendor from Byzantine art, and remained shapeless until he invoked the memories of Rome for his help. [35]and Greece. He had it, it is indisputable, of expert craftsmen. The reliquaries, true treasures of the churches, made the goldsmith and statuary art advance; the sacred arks of the eighth century are almost all decorated with precious stones. Their shape is mostly that of a cathedral supported by angels, a sort of Christian caryatids, amidst crowns of emeralds, topazes and rubies. Some of these arks shine bas-reliefs representing historical subjects: the lives of the Saints, the legends of life and death, and memories drawn from the Old and New Testament, which examples would be: Eve picking the apple, Christ preaching, the Apostles who teach the crowds. The paintings, either for the church, or in the pavement of the choir or in the ceiling, are marked with the same seal; they are all painted on a gold background, and display very lively colors; the complexions have the semblance of a mask removed from the corpse, of a plaster modeled on the dead, in short, they resemble human flesh, yes, but when dead, and the color of the bone or ivory Christs, or even the wax figures . There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? and display very lively colors; the complexions have the semblance of a mask removed from the corpse, of a plaster modeled on the dead, in short, they resemble human flesh, yes, but when dead, and the color of the bone or ivory Christs, or even the wax figures . There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? and they display very lively colors; the complexions have the semblance of a mask removed from the corpse, of a plaster modeled on the dead, in short, they resemble human flesh, yes, but when dead, and the color of the bone or ivory Christs, or even the wax figures . There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? a mask removed from the corpse, of a plaster modeled on the dead, in short, resembles human flesh, yes, but when dead, and the color of the Christs of bone or ivory, or even wax figures. There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? a mask removed from the corpse, of a plaster modeled on the dead, in short, resembles human flesh, yes, but when dead, and the color of the Christs of bone or ivory, or even wax figures. There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? ivory, or even wax figures. There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? ivory, or even wax figures. There the Eternal Father looks at you with terrible eyes, in the attitude in which he will appear to you on the day of the final judgment; while Jesus is meek like the word of forgiveness which he sends from the top of the cross. In imitation of the whole Byzantine school, Christ here is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form that we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? Here Christ is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul? Here Christ is not naked but dressed in a long tunic, in the form we see him in the cathedral of Amiens. Whence comes this sacred and curious image, and who came to put it away in a very ancient cathedral in Gaul?

The goldsmith’s art proceeds towards its perfection; that if the architects of that time do not know well how to portray human features, and give them that character of dryness which marks the birth of art, they have at the meeting perfected the design and color of inanimate things. There are few manuscripts, except for some bibles or missals that precede the Carolingic period; In painting and writing, Byzantine art manifested itself: the binding that was called text ( textum ), because it was made to cover and defend the book, featured ivory bas-reliefs, of exquisite work, equal to that of the reliquaries set with gems and emeralds [ 90]. In these marvelous craftsmanship of art, purple and silk intertwined and mixed their colors; the missal has gold or silver studs on the four corners; you open the manuscript, collected diligently by the manuensis, and find it mostly written in large letters; the [36]miniatures are sparse, but almost always on a gold background similar to the paintings of churches; the arabesques appear richer and better embroidered. The traditions of Greek and Roman art can still be seen in the beautiful models, and the goldsmith Saint Eligius adorned the palace of King Dagobert with a finiteness which he certainly had studied in Rome; the tomb of San Martino di Tours was a goldsmith’s masterpiece [91], that in those times the tombs were decorated with gold and silver, but that the tomb was the palace of that pious generation. In every monastery, therefore, there were craftsmen, who practiced the special arts, since science and even crafts had their origin and increase precisely in the abbeys. Most of the architects were monks and loners from San Benedetto; all the works of the intellect came from their hands, and this can be explained by the long idleness of monastic life: what else to do in the nocturnal vigils, and the groaning of the autumn and winter winds, except to pray, meditate and work for God and for men!

The wealth of ecclesiastical ornaments, the luxury of kings and counts, gave to trade. The wide roads opened by the Roman dominion in the middle of that empire, which embraced the world, favored the bartering of foodstuffs, and on the markets of Gaul and Italy the goods of Syria and Egypt, the furs of Saxony and of Poland, the ironworks of Scandinavia. The traffic lasted so active even after the Franks had occupied this part of the Roman empire, and traces of this trade between people and people should also be sought in the Lives of the Saints,where the Bollandists describe the rich offerings of incense, myrrh and precious stones, which were accumulated on the ark of the saints in the monasteries. The caravans carried the goods of India to the ports of Syria, and the Jewish merchants then landed them in Marseille and on the coasts of Italy, then they were transported by donkey to the fairs and markets of Neustria or Austrasia, with privilege licenses. The kings of the first progeny made famous the fair of San Dionigi, to which Lombards, Saxons, Spaniards, Greeks and even Saracins came: and in these fairs the most varied commodities of all the districts of the world were bartered; the merchants flocked to it in caravans exempt from any tax, as well as the canvas and the portico, of which the ancient chronicles speak and safe from the feudal lords, so formidable to the merchants who went alone. In those great Christian bazaars the Catholics were not distinct from the Jews, but all placed under the same immunity and guarantee. With the beginning of the fair every process [37]remains suspended; the merchant freely deposited the things intended for sale, and dealt with them at his ease; the contracts were made by mutual agreement. If anyone needed money, here is the Jew ready to lend to usury, at an interest not determined by diplomas; he therefore had no scruple to stipulate the fruit of two pennies per week, and in vain the abbots deafened the world, with lively complaints against these unbelievers [92]. There was also a market for slaves, almost all Bretons, in spite of the rise of more than one saint against this nefarious trafficking, condemned by Christianity. The royal diplomas declared the deductibles of the fairs, a sort of saturnalia, in which the gain was the god: in San Dionigi, mainly, the abbot’s pastoral care covered all the acts of the bandits, and favored the competition of the Jewish, Lombard, Greeks and Bretons.

The rivers navigated by the heavy boats of the nanti or ballettanti, were the means of communication for commerce, and the capitulars of the first race obliged the owners of the goods on the banks of these rivers to leave them clear for the passage of horses on the Loire, the Meuse and the Moselle. The most renowned wines for their goodness were transported there, and mainly those of Orleans, from the farms of the first lineage, and the kings waited to plant highways and other wide roads on the remains of the Roman monuments, and the embankment of Brunechilde he retains this name from the works undertaken under that powerful queen. The merchants, in those days, formed a community, and had their markets and special quarters in Paris near Sant’Andrea delle Arti, which later became the parlouer aux bourgeois. There is held every day a market of perfumes and the finest fabrics from Asia and Greece, and an ancient chronicle speaks of the daring of Parisian merchants, who had stalls and warehouses as far as Syria, and one day having clashed with certain Venetian merchants in a city of Egypt, they had come with them to great contention and to arms.

The traffic taxes were noteworthy, and the boats were subject to a thousand taxes, which are in the specified capitulars: health taxes, bridge tolls, landing, anchoring, unloading of goods [93] , everything is permanently regulated there. The merchants were exempt from all these taxes at the time and place of the fair, nor were they required to pay any particular levels to the churches, owners of the squares and land; in San Dionigi, the abbey demanded twelve denarii, nor could anyone ask anything more to the merchants who flocked from all over [38]under the church relief. Therefore the competition was very numerous: the Saxons brought lead and iron to the field of the fair; the Jews the aromas of the East, incense, myrrh; the merchants of Neustria and Armorica, apples and madder; the Provençals, fine olive oil and food from Syria; the traffickers of Orleans, Bordeaux and Dijon, wine, wax, tallow and pitch; the audacious Schiavoni went as far as the Nordic countries to bring the fruits of their mines to San Dionigi.

Nor did it take less of this industrious trade to satisfy all the needs of that nascent civilization. Luxury came one more than the other as it grew; gold and silver were poured into the furniture, some even made of solid gold; King Dagobert, had a chair or a throne made for Saint Eligius, everything, as it is very large, studded with pearls to the top. The life of Saint Eligius, written by Saint Adoeno, is a very curious nomenclature of what the ingenuity of an architect can do for the progress of industry. On the occasions that the kings held their plenary courts, the vestimenta was very rich, and we have from the same Saint Adoen the description of the dress of Saint Eligius, when he was called to the court by his office. His shirt was of very fine linen, embroidered with gold at the edges; the tunic or dalmatic was of silk interwoven with gold and gems, which sent around very vivid splendor; her sleeves were covered with diamonds and emeralds, with gold bracelets, and a similar belt worked with admirable artifice, and her purse embroidered with precious stones and so glittering, that they shone from far to equal with the sun.

This luxury imported a great deal of money, and therefore the capitulars are already beginning to decide on the value of money and money; the Jews, in whose hands he had run out of almost all the cash, lent it at very high interest; they were very powerful under Dagobert, and perhaps never enjoyed, in human memory, more extensive privileges. The coin, which was all gold and silver, counted for marks, lire, money and denarii. We see in the lives of the Bollandists more than one saint also laboring to introduce the principles of probity and honor into commerce. They preached against the sale of slaves [94], against usury, so contrary to the Christian faith, and against the robberies of the people of war, which prevented the merchants from freely professing their traffic. Much owed to the Christian religion, in Gaul, for the arts, commerce, and literature, and to know that society well it is necessary to study it in the lives of the saints: the chronicle is nothing but an imperfect copy; but in the devout reports collected by contemporaries you can well get a correct concept of the customs and uses of the Middle Ages.