The Book of the Hebrews


Manuals or notarial protocols are books used by Catalan notaries since the 13th century to register in accurate chronological order all notarized acts. Some notaries opened special books in which they collected one type of document. Presented here, for example, is a book maintained by a notary in Cardona, in south-central Catalonia, used exclusively for recording legal acts relating to the Jewish inhabitants of the village. On its pages, written in Latin, are found extracts concerning the acknowledgement of debts, procurements, contracts, donations, and payments. Analysis of the notarial contracts in the manual shows that the Jews of Cardona were engaged in making interest-bearing loans, which under Jewish law they were allowed to offer to Christians but not to other Jews. Christians were technically forbidden to charge interest on loans. Most of the documents are acknowledgments of debts incurred by other residents of the village. The crude ink drawing that illustrates the back cover of the manual, possibly made at a later period, shows a devil seizing two individuals identified as Jews, alongside another character who could be a pope.

Last updated: January 13, 2015