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Love, Work and DeathJewish Life in Medieval Umbria$
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Ariel Toaff

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774198

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774198.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

Doctors and Surgeons

Doctors and Surgeons

Chapter:
(p.215) 10 Doctors and Surgeons
Source:
Love, Work and Death
Author(s):

Ariel Toaff

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774198.003.0011

This chapter focuses on Jewish doctors and surgeons in Umbrian communes in the late Middle Ages. Public records, notarial deeds, and contracts in Hebrew and Latin all bear witness to the presence and activity of a host of Jewish doctors, hired by the communes to treat the people of any given town and contado. The practice appears to have been widespread throughout Italy, and its roots are to be sought less in the supposed Jewish penchant for medical studies than in the fact that such studies were virtually the only ones to which Jews had access in the Italian universities of the time. Moreover, the privileges and prestige which often accompanied the medical profession constituted an appreciable attraction for Jews in search of a social standing that might exempt them from the restrictions that went with their identity. Such advantages included above all the right of citizenship, with its attendant privileges, primarily that of being able to acquire property and enter it in the town's land register; exemption from payment of city tributes and special taxes; authorization to carry defensive weapons; and dispensation from wearing the distinctive badge. However, from the mid-fifteenth century onwards, the employment of Jewish doctors by the communes began to be hotly and openly contested.

Keywords:   Jewish doctors, Jewish surgeons, Umbrian communes, medical studies, medical practice, medical profession, citizenship

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