Between History and Town-Planning: Danitis, Maccabees, Sadducees, Medicis, Suricis, Christians and Marranos in Terra Di Lavoro in the Middle Ages

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Southern Italy in the early Middle Ages is a particularly privileged region for civilization historians. The coexistence of regimes and of political contrasting influences, of stock peoples and different civilizations stimulates them to ask themselves what role each of those elements played there and as much preponderance they have gained. In particular, the so-called Southern Longobardy--which was between the Roman Byzantine Empire in the South and the Frank German Empire in the North, in the same time was the target of papal penetration and subject to Islamic incursions--was an area full of contrasts, syntheses and of survivals; here the Longobardic princes acted as intermediaries among different cultures and economies.

2. Danitis

As regards the Hebrews in general, there is no concordance about the time of their early Diaspora in the world. Generally speaking we think that it began on the time of the second destruction of Jerusalem Temple, done by the Emperor Titus in 70 A .D.; other scholars suggest that the Diaspora started in 587 before the Vulgar Era and then on the first Temple destruction, done by Nebuchadnezzar, who obliged part of Jews to move to Babylon, capital of its reign. For other scholars it should go far back and arrive at the Hebrews captivity in Egypt, and then up to the Moses period.

As regards Southern Italy, Judaic communities had been in Capua for very long time. Names as Abraham, Ananias, Benedict, David, Elias, Iaret, Ierosolima, Iona, Isa, Israel, Iudeus, Jacob, Jesse, Manasses, Moses, Philistine, Samaritan, Zacchaeus and so many others are met in an astonishing way in our sources. It has been also said that <> (Baudrillart, 1949). However, according to what it has been possible to document so far, the Hebrews had arrived in our lands more or less after 63 B.C.--but certainly also in 587 B.C.--when Pompey conquered Jerusalem and many of them were transferred to Roma as prisoners of war, together with other not Palestinian coreligionists who perhaps arrived at Hannibal's time or of Scipione Asiatico's conquests. It is known also that at Pozzuoli, not long after Herod the Great's death, there was a Jewish colony, which could arrive from some of many communities scattered throughout the Mediterranean area, especially from Alexandria, where there was a Jewish community at least since III century B.C., rather than from Palestine. Today it has by now confirmed the hypothesis according to which both the ancient Capua (today Santa Maria Capua Vetere), which was destroyed by the Saracens in 841, and the New Capua have been Hebrew religious and cultural cities settled in Southern Italy. We can not exclude that between the two towns there were set minority Hebraic groups belonging to the ancient tribes of Benjamin, Naphtali, Dan, Manasses, Simeon, Reuben and Judas, as in particular the Capuan onomastology of this period seems to show. The most substantial group should however be formed by Danitis, judges tribes, since the viper or snake, symbol by which it was designated, appears in the ancient Capua Vetere coat of arms: a cup with seven snakes, that reminds us in its emblem of the Menorah, the mythical Hebrew seven-branched candelabrum, chosen as its emblem by the State of Israel. In other words, the cup and the snakes would represent the city of Capua which was inhabited by the Danitis. The diffusion in the territory of the surname Giudice, in the most frequent form of Iodice (from Dayyan), seems to confirm this hypothesis: moreover it is famous in the Middle Ages the legislative activity of Capua, with the schools of ars dictaminis, with notaries and judges, with its famous "square of judges" that till today has this name.

From our studies emerges for the first time that in the ancient Capua the Hebrews were settled in the iudaica: outside Porta Albana, in direction of Saint Prisco's village (bosco de Adam), outside Porta Atellana (ad Ihona), outside Porta Diana, in direction of St. …