Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of Benedetto Blanis
By: Edward L. Goldberg (author)Paperback
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In the seventeenth century, Florence was the splendid capital of the Medici Grand Dukedom of Tuscany. Meanwhile, the Jews in its tiny Ghetto struggled to earn a living by any possible means, especially loan-sharking, rag-picking and second-hand dealing. They were viewed as an uncanny people with rare supernatural powers, and Benedetto Blanis-a businessman and aspiring scholar from a distinguished Ghetto dynasty-sought to parlay his alleged mastery of astrology, alchemy and Kabbalah into a grand position at the Medici Court. He won the patronage of Don Giovanni dei Medici, a scion of the ruling family, and for six tumultuous years their lives were inextricably linked. Edward Goldberg reveals the dramas of daily life behind the scenes in the Pitti Palace and in the narrow byways of the Florentine Ghetto, using thousands of new documents from the Medici Granducal Archive. He shows that truth-especially historical truth-can be stranger than fiction, when viewed through the eyes of the people most immediately involved.
Edward Goldberg is an art historian and a long-time resident of Florence. He has worked for more than thirty years in the Medici Granducal Archive.
Acknowledgments Illustration Credits Notes on Sources The Blanis Family CHAPTER ONE The Piazza CHAPTER TWO The Palace The Medici Family - Palazzo Pitti - Don Giovanni dei Medici - Benedetto Blanis at Court CHAPTER THREE The Ghetto Benedetto at Home - The Blanis Family - The Creation of the Ghetto - Segregation, Conversation, and Confusion - Ghetto Government - Benedetto's Neighbours CHAPTER FOUR The Synagogue The Synagogue as It Was - On the Bench - Men of Authority - Quarrels and Dissension - Italians and Levantines CHAPTER FIVE Memory and Survival The Jewish Year - Home and Family - Observance - Justice and Commandments CHAPTER SIX The Market Shopping - Market and Ghetto - Blanis and Sons - Stolen Goods - Scrocchi Barocchi - Rich Jews CHAPTER SEVEN Knowledge and Power Books - Tree of Kabbalah - Medicean Planets - Silver, Gold, and Grappa - The Fish Pond CHAPTER EIGHT Games of Chance Porta al Prato - Risky Business - Jew Made Christian CHAPTER NINE The Mirror of Truth On the Road - Venice - The Mirror of Truth - At Home with Livia and Don Giovanni - Fire at the Fair - Florence CHAPTER TEN The Magic Circle Fellow Travellers - The Late Cosimo Ridolfi - The Workshop - The Apprentice CHAPTER ELEVEN Curious and Forbidden Books Passover and Easter - Days of Scruples - Holy Cross - Bad Jew - Business as Usual (I) - Divine Favours - Jews and Converts - Business as Usual (II) CHAPTER TWELVE Prison Misery and Woe - Beginning of the End - Cosmic Battle - Out of Sight and out of Mind CHAPTER THIRTEEN Habeas Corpus? Notes Bibliography Index
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