Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of by Edward L. Goldberg

By Edward L. Goldberg

In the 17th century, Florence used to be the sumptuous capital of the Medici Grand Dukedom of Tuscany. in the meantime, the Jews in its tiny Ghetto struggled to earn cash through any attainable potential, specially loan-sharking, rag-picking and second-hand dealing. They have been seen as an uncanny individuals with infrequent supernatural powers, and Benedetto Blanis—a businessman and aspiring student from a wonderful Ghetto dynasty—sought to parlay his alleged mastery of astrology, alchemy and Kabbalah right into a grand place on the Medici courtroom. He received the patronage of Don Giovanni dei Medici, a scion of the ruling kin, and for 6 tumultuous years their lives have been inextricably linked.

Edward Goldberg finds the dramas of way of life backstage within the Pitti Palace and within the slim byways of the Florentine Ghetto, utilizing hundreds of thousands of recent files from the Medici Granducal Archive. He indicates that truth—especially ancient truth—can be stranger than fiction, whilst considered in the course of the eyes of the folks so much instantly involved.

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Additional info for Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of Benedetto Blanis (Toronto Italian Studies Series)

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At the most basic level, however, she must have been telling a plausible story – meaning that confusione was still a clear and present danger fifty years after the institution of the Florentine Ghetto. Ghetto Government The Jews were forced into the Ghetto against their will in 1571 – but once they arrived, the Medici gave them considerable scope to manage their own affairs. The rulers of Tuscany preferred to hear as little as possible about these newly assembled subjects, as long as they paid their head tax, paid their rent, and stayed out of trouble – particularly trouble involving Catholics and the Catholic faith.

25 Livia might well have been no better than a whore. She was, at very least, ‘an available woman (donna di partito),’26 in the language of the time – passed from hand to hand by leisured gentlemen of the Florentine patriciate. 28 By then the couple’s absence from Florence had become a practical necessity. Don Giovanni dei Medici still enjoyed prestige and influence in his native city—but he did not, and probably could not, return. Benedetto Blanis at Court On Saturday, 20 June 1615, after sunset and the conclusion of the Jewish Sabbath, Benedetto Blanis wrote his first letter to Don Giovanni dei Medici: At Your Excellency’s departure, as you know, I was so overcome by anguish as to be rendered speechless.

2 For Benedetto, his wife and children these were the realities of daily life in the Florentine Ghetto. In their single room, they hosted parties, presented learned discourses, and received at least one of the Medici in a social setting. Despite their cramped quarters and the indignities that The Ghettoâ•… 23 surrounded them, the Blanis were distinguished representatives of the local Jewish aristocracy. This Ghetto was a concrete place – a distinct enclave within the Tuscan capital. There was an inner courtyard and a narrow street and two gates that were locked at night.

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