Beginning on this day, July 31, 1571, the Jews of Tuscany were restricted to residing within a ghetto, and were to stay there for 277 years. Their confinement persisted until the abolishment of the ghetto in 1848.
The history of the Jewish community of Florence, today the capital city of Tuscany, goes back to the end of the 14th century, when Jewish bankers from the south of Italy were first given permission to settle in the city. By 1428, a group of Jewish financiers had met there and organized a loan to Pope Martin V, in return for a promise of protection. Nine years later marked the official founding of the city’s Jewish community, with the establishment of several Jewish banks.
As was the case in most of Christian Europe, the conditions of Florence’s Jews oscillated, depending on external political conditions, and the particular needs of the ruler in whose hands their fate lay. In the case of the Republic of Florence, the Medici family ruled for most of the time from the 15th century through the early decades of the 18th century, with a wide variety of different attitudes toward the Jews. [...]