||Decree issued by Duke Vincenzo Gonzago prohibiting Baptism of the Jews in his realm. The text, in Italian, is headed by the ornate escutcheon of the Gonzaga family, rulers of Mantua and Monferrato. Joseph ha-Kohen, in Emek ha-Bakha, describes Gonzaga as favoring the Jews and speaking kindly to them. And that the lord Joseph da Fano was close to the king, and that he made a treaty with them, signed with the king’s ring. He also signed a treaty and made good laws with the Jews of Monferrato. Vincenzo also confirmed the privileges given the Jews by his predecessors, particularly his father Guglielmo. All this not withstanding, his positive reputation is only in contrast to other contemporary rulers. Under Vincenzo the Jews of Mantua suffered considerably, and he was the Mantuan ruler who confined them to the ghetto. Under Vincenzo Christian preaching to the Jews increased, censorship of Hebrew books became stricter, and immigration by Jews into the Duchy was restricted, and the civil and social status of Jews reduced in Mantua.
Other features of Vincenzo’s rule are that, in 1590 all foreign Jews were expelled from the city to prevent the increase of the Jewish population. In the following year this decree was reinforced by menaces against the entire community. On April 22, 1600, Giuditta Franchetti, eighty years of age, was publicly burned on a charge of witchcraft, and other members of the community were sentenced to heavy punishments. In 1602, however, in spite of these rigorous proceedings, the Franciscan monk Bartolomeo da Salutivo publicly accused the prince of leniency toward the Jews. As the populace was threatening them, Vincenzo was obliged to interfere sternly in their behalf (Aug. 14), although at the beginning of the year he had issued orders for the complete separation of Jews and Christians. He next forbade Jewish physicians to treat Christians without special permission, and, at the instance of Pope Clement VIII., decreed (Nov. 7) that the Jews should sell all their real estate within a year; he placed all their civic and commercial affairs under the jurisdiction of a special official termed "commissario degli Ebrei," and in certain other relations they were subjected to ecclesiastical control. This office of Jewish commissioner existed until 1765. In 1610 the establishment of a ghetto was decreed, and in Feb., 1612, the Jews were compelled to move into it. The new edict called the "Tolleranza Generale" subjected them to still more rigorous treatment; it was renewed every eight years, on payment of a large sum, and remained in force until 1791.