76 170 (POLAND) Royal Decree. Issued by Sigismund (Pol. Zygmunt) III, King of Poland in 1594 concerning the Jews of the Prussian unfortified city of Wschowa (Ger. Fraustadt). Manuscript in Latin, written on vellum. With King Sigismund’s original Seal and signature of the King’s Secretary, the jurist Jan Tarnowski (later Primate of Poland in 1604). 12 x 23.5 inches (30.5 x 59.5 cm). 1594. $7000 - $9000 ❧ ABSTRACT OF TEXT: “According to the worthies of the city of Wschowa, the perfides [i.e. the Jews] have exceeded their commercial rights, concerning which there had been several court cases in the past. They have appealed in virtue of their (former) charters. Our present jurisdiction, under our responsibility, has received from the hands of their assessors … the noble Johan Sczalapski, representative of the Jews of Jelena Góra and Wschowa, answerable to us, … at the appointed delay, they have presented their privileges in addition to an act dated 1572. The latter concerns a similar case involving the Castellan of … (It appeared) that they had encroached upon the privileges which were examined in a contradictory manner (by the different parties), in relation to the privileges of the city […] The Jews of Wschowa do not have the right of permanent residence, […] despite the claim that they possess habitations within and beyond the city. Neither do they have the right to carry on trade within the city. They are hereby afforded a delay of six months to leave the city from the fourth day following the Feast of Saint Nicholas of the year 1594.” THE CONTEXT: The 28th February 1593, Pope Clement VIII published the Bull Cum hebraeorum malitia which established jurisprudence for two centuries. It imposed censorship of Hebrew books, and condemned the Talmud and the historical errors of the Jews. The first documented sources regarding Jews in Wschowa date from the end of the 16th century. Historical records attest that it was not until 1584 that the first Jew, Simon, arrived in Wschowa. He was followed by others who settled on the land under the jurisdiction of an alderman. They lived in Rybacka Alley (in German Fischergasse), to the west of the marketplace, at the place of the later upper “New Town” (in German Ober- Neustadt). The newcomers, who possibly hailed from Głogów, created a kehilla soon numbering some 150 souls. Despite their not engaging in crafts, therefore not competing with the townspeople, they were considered a threat to the city. In 1592 a city clerk was sent to Cracow to ask the monarch to “banish the Jewish non-believers, who were settled in the houses under the jurisdiction of the castle”. The king consented to the request and a few days later (22 April, 1592), and then again on 3 July of the same year, he ordered the alderman, Wacław Kiełczewski, to banish the Jews and forbid their settling in or around the town in the future. The king’s ruling was unfavorable to the alderman, who derived profits from the Jews’ presence in the city. He may have urged them to appeal against the ruling, referring to the general charter granted them by the king. The monarch considered the appeal justified and ordered the case to be reinvestigated. The people of Wschowa, unsure of the king’s final ruling, decided to drive the Jews out of the city, however the Jews did not relent and stood their ground. On 7 December 1594 the king decided in favor of the city and the Jews were given six months to leave. The verdict emphasized that the general charter did not apply to localities such as Wschowa where Jews had not resided at the time of its issue. On 12 June 1595 it was declared in the marketplace that all Jews had to leave Wschowa and on 29 July the city commission inspecting the Rybacka Alley, occupied previously by Jews, reported that there were no more Jews in the city. Description, (extended version available upon request) prepared by Paul Fenton, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Sorbonne University, Paris.