IIJG Research

2006 | Sephardic DNA | Destroyed Communities | 2007 | Darbenai Kinship | 2008 | Ancona Networks | Sephardic Elites | Cervera Archives | 2009 | Riga Registers | Hungarian Protocols | 2010 |Hungarian Families | 2011 | Hapsburg Families Spanish Extremadura | 2012 | Piotrków Trybunalski | 2013 | Jews of Pinczow  | Jews, Frankists and Converts  |  Jewish Community of Tarrega | 2014 |Vienna’s Jewish Upper Class | Hispano-Jewish Onomastics | 2015 | Modern Genealogy of Polish Jews | Reading Between the Lines |

Crossing the Boundaries: Ancona Networks

This project, entitled “Crossing the Boundaries: Jewish Networks in early-modern Italy between the Mediterranean and the New World (16th – 18th Centuries), has been completed by Dr. Federica Francesconi of Rutgers University. Click here for the final report on this project.

The following is a summary of the proposal, as it was first submitted:

It examines the merchant society developed by a network of Jewish families in Modena and Ancona -respectively the capital city of the Estense Duchy and the second city of the Papal State – through their complex fostering of familial, commercial, cultural and political links in the early modern age. No monograph has yet dealt specifically with both the Jews of Modena and Ancona, despite the extant source materials available and unpublished.

Genealogical analysis of the archival sources will facilitate the identification of a large sampling of Jewish –Italian, Ashkenazi, and Sephardic- families, groups, and networks, that will be at the core of the study. Modenese and Anconan Jewish societies developed early into a genuine bourgeoisie that took charge of its own religious and cultural identity and cultivated it autonomously. The complex and variegated nature of these networks will be brought out, as will the variety of criteria by which membership in a network was determined – criteria that shifted and changed over time, depending on the circumstances in which specific groups of merchants had to work.

At the outset, the research will concentrate on a corpus of unpublished sources, tp be found principally in Italy and Israel, in order to focus on the Jewish merchant society of Ancona. The aim will be to gain a complete picture of demographic structure of the community, through the analysis of its genealogical kinship links. Thereafter, the study will investigate Jewish life on a multilevel analytical perspective in order to focus on the means by which Anconian Jews were able to maintain their identity and to expand their commercial routes during the ghetto age.

Then, the work will concentrate on two main focuses. First, a systematic comparison will be made between the Anconian sources with the Modenese ones (already compiled and to an extent analysed) in order to identify both common networks (family, kinship, and groups) and common trades and commercial routes in the Mediterranean and new world (Goa, Suriname, and Recife). Then, the means by which these Jewish networks were able to develop and prosper until the end of eighteenth century will be examined.

Finally the research will provide a comparative analysis of current historical studies of Jewish modernization in Western Europe and the connections between the early-modern and modern ages, emphasizing the role played by the Italian Jews. If Italy is considered as a mirror of the Jewish encounter with European civilization, both the Anconian and Modenese Jewries can be regarded as much more than simple examples of purely local history. With their complex familial and other structures, they can be seen as a model of Jewries that took a distinct path—and played a distinct role—toward modernity.