City view, Camerino

Camerino was one of eleven towns between Ancona and Rome where Jewish merchants were known to be active in trade. The town, and its Jewish community, began a rapid decline in 1545, with the incorporation of Camerino into the Papal States. At that time, the Jews were forced to move into the area between what is now Piazza Garibaldi and the church of San Francesco, where one can still find a narrow street called Vicolo della Giudecca.

In 1569, the Jews were expelled from Camerino and found refuge in Pesaro, Urbino and Senigallia. Camerino and Camerini can be still found today as Jewish last names.

Located near Chieti, Camerino was made capital of the region under Charlemagne and starting at the beginning of the 11th century was established as a municipality. In 1198, it became part of the domains of Church and, having supported the Guelphs, was partially destroyed by the troops of Manfredi in 13th century. However, some of the exiled Guelphs went back in 1262 and were able to impose their dominion until 1545, when the rule of the city passed into the hands of the Holy See.

The Jews of Camerino are generally thought to have Roman origins. A scroll dated to December 24, 1290, reports of the Jews Bonaventura di Angelo and Angelo di Dattilo, who came from Rome and were residences of the district of Camerino, presenting claims against two Christians.

Throughout the 14th century, Jewish bankers were active in the Marche. However, the loss of most of the medieval and early modern public records prevents us from establishing any details about them.  The Jewish community of Camerino was among those taxed in order to finance the army of the deposed Pope Gregory XII in 1412 and, again, in 1414.

The few surviving records attest to the activity of a number of lenders and document the lives of some residents. Among them is Angelo di Guglielmo, who lived in the Sossanta district. He was initially married to Dariuccia di Emanuele Mosè from Recanati and had a son named Abramo. He had a second wife, Mona Claruccia, who had a daughter named Lustrella, who was married to Aleuccio, son of Abramo and therefore grandson of Angelo.

In Borgo San Venanzo, we find Bonaiuto di Guglielmo and his uncle Consiglio di Daniele, who, together with their families, constitute the core of a community documented until the end of the 15th century. Gugliemo married Belladonna and they had two sons: Bonaiuto and Solomone. The former was married in 1475 to Perna di Samuele from San Severino, and the latter married Dolce of Davide from Borgo San Sepolcro in 1489. 

An important family, also from Rome, was known by the name “Da Synagoga”, and subsequently acquired the name of the city, “Da Camerino”. The family occupied a position of prestige in the city, as well as in the region.

Residents of the Middle district (Contrada di Mezzo), heart of the town where the “platea” and the “loggia” were located, the family’s main occupation was in banking but they were also engaged in livestock trade and real estate. Unlike other local bankers, the Da Camerino controlled a network of lending activities in San Giovanni Valdarno, Borgo San Lorenzo, Cortona, Cascia, Trevi, Tolentino, Modigliana, Castiglion Fiorentino, Spoleto and Villafranca Veronese as well as in Florence and Ferrara.

Pope Adrian VI relieved the Jews of Camerino of extra taxes and confirmed their privileges.

After the expulsion from Sicily in 1492, and from Naples in 1541, some of the Jews from those regions moved to the Marche and some settled in Camerino. In 1542, the papal chamberlain Guido Ascanio Sforza, decreed that the Southern exiles were to be considered same as local Jews and that they should be taxed accordingly.

In 1543, the Holy See granted license to Sabbato, alias Sabbatolo, son of Joseph Razon d’Ancona, and to the members of his family and associates, to hold a lending bank in Camerino. In 1549, Pope Paul III confirmed an agreement concluded between the communities of the Marche and the chamberlain Guido Ascanio Sforza, which provided for the payment of 3,000 shields for the “vigesima,” the second installment of a three-year tax in progress.

Nevertheless, in the same year, the Holy See appointed him a commissioner cleric to examine rumors that  suggested that the Jews of the region, including Camerino, while paying only 3,000 crowns a year for vigesima, possessed more than 300,000. Therefore, the Commissioner ordered a complete inventory of the Jewish assets. These tensions and negotiations returned with regularity throughout the modern period.

Among the prominent personalities who resided in Camerino was Rabbi Ovadiah from Bertinoro, a close friend of the banker and scholar Emanuele Bonaiuto da Camerino. Rabbi Obadiah entrusted all his assets to Bonaiuto to ensure an income during his stay in the Holy Land.


Source: Italian Judaica