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1540 SOCIETY OF JESUS (Jesuits)

Was founded. In Poland they were the most anti-Jewish segment of the Clergy.

1540 May 12, POPE PAUL III

Published a bull against blood libels, concluding that "those accusing the Jews of drinking the blood of children are blinded by avarice, and only want to rob their money"

1540 September 20, LISBON (Portugal)

The first Auto da Fe of those forcibly converted to Christianity (Conversos) was held. The Auto da Fe was to play a macabre part of Portuguese life for the next 250 years.

1541 SIGISMUND I (Poland)

Appointed two chief rabbis over Little Poland: Moses Fishel of Cracow (martyred the following year at the stake); and Shalom Shakna of Lublin.

1541 FERDINAND I ( Bohemia)

Accused the Jews of helping the Turks during the Siege of Buda. As a punishment, Ferdinand (1503-1564) enacted a special property tax. Later that year, with the exception of fifteen families, he expelled them. He readmitted them ( for a large fee) in 1554, and expelled them again five years later, only to welcome them back for another substantial fee in 1561.

1541 - 1613 (8 Elul 5373) DAVID GANS (Prague, Bohemia)

A Jewish historian and scholar noted for his Tsemach David (Spirit of David), printed in 1592. It was based half on Jewish and half on general history and it was translated into other languages, including Latin and Yiddish. Gans was a student of Moses Isserles and Judah Lowe (the Maharal). He wrote in Hebrew on cosmography, Nehmad Ve'Naim (Delightful and Pleasant) and, as a noted astronomer, was in contact with Johannes Kepler.


Under the guidance of Inquisitor John De Mello, In all 32 people were penanced, 9 strangled and burned, and 21 sentenced to death in absentia. By the following year it had become routine at Lisbon, Evora , Tomar, Lamego and Oporto.

1542 CHURCH SYNOD (Piotrkow, Poland)

As the Reformation began to make headway in Poland, the Catholic Church under Archbishop Peter Gamrat and the Papal Nuncio Luigi Lippomano decided to combat it by increasing the level of Judeophobia and demanding that Jews be expelled or at least be put into ghettos. rnHost desecration and ritual murder accusations, led by church leaders, became far more common throughout the next 200 years.

1542 POPE PAUL III (Rome, Italy)

The Congregation of the Holy office - also known as the Roman Inquisition - was established, originally to counter Protestantism. In 1555, when Cardinal Caraffa became Pope Paul IV, he immediately expanded its operation, advocating the tracking down of all "suspects", especially conversos. Until this date, many conversos had found refuge in the papal states and were able to return to Judaism unmolested. After this, the Inquisition operated within the papal states, Venice, Milan, Naples, Mantua, and Tuscany.


Pope Paul III issued this Bull laying down some of the fundamental privileges for those Jews who converted to Christianity (Neophytes). In order to qualify they had to break all ties with other Jews including family members, and could only marry a born Christian. The Bull protected their property, offered tax incentives, and gave them full citizenship. Until then Jews who converted had to give over their wealth to the church.

1543 GOA (India)

Geronimo Diaz, a New Christian (converso) physician, was burned at the stake by the Inquisition.

1543 - 1620 (1 Iyar 5380) HAYIM VITAL (Damascus, Syria - Safed, Eretz Israel)rn

A pupil of the Ari, he was respected both in and out of Eretz Israel. Vital was the author of many Kabbalistic, talmudic and Biblical works including Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) on Lurian Kabbalah, and Lekutai Torah (Gleanings of Torah). He had sole possession of the Ari's writings, and most of our knowledge of the Ari's life. Most of our knowledge of the Ari's life and teachings are from Vital.

1543 MARTIN LUTHER (1481-1545) (Germany)

Wrote Concerning the Jews and their Lies. As an ally of anti-Catholic Reuchlin, he wrote a pro-Jewish work in 1520 called Jesus was a Jew. Luther expected the Jews to join his revolution, and when they rejected his views he became bitter. He called for the Jews to be slaves to the serfs, so as not to touch the hand of a German Christian. His attacks were generally not based upon the vicious and virulent anti-Jewish writings of past Christians, i.e. Chrysostom.

1543 February 11, AUTO DA FE (Oporto. Portugal)

Thirty thousand people watched as four people were burned to death. The idea that the residents of Oporto opposed the Inquisition and forced its closure is a legend.

1543 February 19, HOUSE OF CATECHUMENS (Casa dei Catecumeni) (Italy)

Was established by Pope Paul III. The sole purpose of the house, supported by forced Jewish taxation, was to convert Jews. A person sent there was subjected to 40 days of intense "instruction". If he still refused baptism after that time, he was allowed to return to his home - but few did. Around 2440 Jews were converted in Rome alone before it was abolished in 1810. Other houses were set up in various Italian cities.

1544 JOSEPH BAR YAKAR (Ichenhausen, Germany)

Translated a Siddur (prayer book) into Yiddish making it one of the oldest extant.rn

1544 April 3, EMPEROR CHARLES V (Holy Roman Empire)

Was convinced by Josel of Rosheim to condemn the ritual murder accusations.

1545 - 1632 AARON IBN HAYYIM (Morocco)

Rabbi and scholar . Known for his work Korban Aharon ( Sacrifice of Aaron) a commentary of the sifra (the halachic midrash fo Leviticus), and Lev Aharon (Aaron's Heart) a commentary on Joshua and Judges.

C. 1545 - 1588 ABRAHAM HIYYA BEN MOSES DE BOTON (Salonika)

Scholar and leading Rabbinical leader. De Boton is most noted for his commentary Lehem Mishneh on Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. It is still today published as part of every edition of the Mishneh Torah. rnrn


Became ruler of Russia. He refused to allow Jews to live in his kingdom.


Two Jews were accused of kidnapping the son of a local tailor and crucifying him in the town of Rawa. They were burned at the stake and the rest expelled. Over the next 240 years there would be 81 ritual murder accusations and trials in Poland. Thirty-two in the 18th century alone.

1547 July 16, PORTUGAL

An irreversible and independent Inquisition was finally approved by the Bull Meditatio Cordis by Pope Paul III. Offices of the Inquisition were established in Lisbon, Evora, Coimbra, and even in Goa.

1547 November 22, ASOLO (Italy)

One of the few pogroms recorded in Italy. Ten Jews in a town of thirty were killed, and their houses robbed with no apparent motives.

1548 - 1617 FRANCISCO SUAREZ (Spain)

Was considered a major Jesuit theologian and philosopher. Suarez advocated the banning of the Talmud and the building of synagogues, as well as forbidding "any familiarity with Jews".

1548 - 1620 MENAHEM AZARIAH DA FANO (Italy)

Scholar, philanthropist, and student of Moses Cordovero. He helped publicize the teaching of Isaac Luria and kabbalah in general, as well as the works of Joseph Caro. De Fano published his own responsa, as well as Asarah Ma'amarot (" Ten essays") on kabbalistic thought.

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