The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence

9780804750783: Hardback
Release Date: 5th December 2005

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 650

Series Stanford Studies in Jewish History and C

Stanford University Press

The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence

The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community

This book explores the decision of Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici to create a ghetto in Florence, and explains how a Jewish community developed out of that forced population transfer.
Hardback / £73.00

The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence is a work about Italian Jews, Christians, and the institutions and policies that organized their relationship. It sets the 1570 decision of the Medici government to ghettoize the Jews of Tuscany in the context of early modern statecraft and in the climate of the Catholic (or Counter-) Reformation. While readers have had access to studies of the ghettos of Rome and Venice, this is the first study of the Jews of Tuscany available in English, and the first and only study of the Florentine ghetto based on sustained archival research. The story of the forced ghettoization of Tuscan Jews allows the author to explore the "spatialization of power," the construction of Jewish community, and the reorganization of gender roles, leading to three broad arguments of great significance to readers interested in Italian history, Jewish history, urban history, and the history of women.

Stefanie Siegmund is Associate Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.

"Ground-breaking and comprehensive in scope, The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence offers readers an intriguing glimpse into an ofttimes overlooked aspect of Italian and Jewish history."

History in Reviewx

"This is an original, pioneering book . . . "

The Times Literary Supplement

"Boldly revisionist in its analysis of Jewish segregation, Siegmunds highly nuanced argument dovetails nicely with an emerging scholarly consensus regarding state formation and social discipline in early modern Italy."


"A richly-detailed study . . . The ghetto, whatever the specific circumstances of its creation, represented order at the expense of liberty. But Siegmund has made it more difficult to generalize indiscriminately and facilely."

Catholic Historical Review

"Siegmund convincingly shows that, as a by-product of centralization and strengthening of its institutions, the Medici state, by ghettoizing the Jews, in fact created a formal Jewish community that had previously not existed . . . This is an important contribution not only to the study of early modern Italian Jewish history, but also to the existing extensive studies of the Medici state itself. Siegmund reminds us that Jewish history must be understood in the broader context of political, social, and religious developments in the area in which Jews lived, and that inclusion of Jews in the discussion deepens the understanding of those developments themselves."

Sixteenth Century Journal

"This book has been lauded and recognized by two prestigious prizes and is already being cited as marking a new path in the study of Jewish-Christian relations in premodern Europe . . . the book is nothing if not stimulating and will remain the touchstone for all future research into Florentine Jewish history in this period."

Renaissance Quarterly

"Thanks to this well-documented work by Stefanie B. Siegmund, we now have a reliable account of . . . the creation of the florentine ghetto in 1570."

Brendan Dooley
International Journal of the Classical Tradition