The Jews of Alghero were mostly engaged in trade, but there were also many scholars and physicians among them, the best known being: Isaac Eymies, who was pensioned by the governor of Lugodoro and by the city of Alghero, and who was called in 1406 to the post of city physician of Cagliari; Ḥayyim of Hipre, author of a work on the medicinal plants of Sardinia; and Solomon Averonques, renowned for his surgical operations. The Jews of Alghero were not excluded from official positions. Mention is made of a Jew named Moses Sofer who occupied in 1467 the position of tax-collector. Another, named Moses di Carcassona, was appointed by the vice-king Carroz in 1467 as the general sheriff’s officer of the court of Alghero.
In 1482 the same Moses obtained for the sum of 2,250 livres the farming of the taxes of the departments Gociano, Porte Ocier Reale, Mondrolisai, and Oristano for a period of three years. Together with his brother Nino Carcassona, Moses lent large sums for the equipment of the navy and of the armies which had been led by the vice-king Ximene Perez to the city of Oristano.
It seems that before the Spanish domination Alghero contained but few Jews, who had neither a synagogue nor a separate cemetery. It was only at the end of the fourteenth century that these institutions were founded. In 1381 Vitali Alabi bought from Giacomo Bassach and his wife their house, situated in the street leading to the castle, which he wished to use for a synagogue. Two years later Francisco Giovanni of Santa Colombia, governor of Sassaro and Lugodoro, and later vice-king of Sardinia, permitted the physician Solomon Averonques to buy any place he might choose for a cemetery. In l438 the community of Alghero was permitted by the municipalityto enlarge the synagogue. The enlargement was completed in 1454, and on this occasion the administrators of the community, Samuel Carcassona and Jacob Cohen, petitioned the government to allow them to put the coat of arms of the king on the edifice.
In 1455 a petition was addressed to the municipality by the Jewish administrators Terocio, Buria, and Giacoble Nathan to allow them to enlarge the Jewish cemetery. Like all the communities of Sardinia, that of Alghero was administered by elected directors or secretaries, who possessed judicial power in all litigations between Jews, and even between Jews and Christians when sums not exceeding five livres were involved.
Persecution and Expulsion
However, while the Jews of Alghero were, for unknown reasons, the object of the solicitude of the government and enjoyed a high degree of prosperity until the very year of their banishment, those of Cagliari and other communities were after 1430 treated in the harshest manner. They were compelled to live in special quarters and to wear special kinds of caps, and were not allowed to wear jewels or to put on shoes of any other color than black. Jewish traders were forbidden, under the penalty of losing their goods, to transact business on Christian feast-days.
A Jew who employed a Christian was subject to a fine of twenty livres. Foreign Jews were forbidden, under the penalty of death, to settle in Sardinia without the permission of the vice-king or the archbishop. A decree issued in 1481 fixed the penalties for an offense against Christianity and for the employment of Christian servants. For the former crime the Jew was to have his hands cut off; for the latter he was to receive 200 stripes and to pay a fine of 200 ducats, and the servant was to receive an equal number of lashes.
In 1485 the Jews were declared royal property and were subjected to the special jurisdiction of the royal attorney. At the same time they were forbidden to export any of their belongings from the island. The decree containing these measures was communicated by the vice-king Ximene Perez to the leaders of the Jewish community of Cagliari, Abraham Mili, Emanuel Mili, Samuel Bondra, Isaac Sallom, Isaac Aleva, Leon Miro, and others. The banishment of the Jews from Spain was closely followed by that of the Jews of Sardinia.