The Blanis Letters

COMING IN OCTOBER 2011!    Another book by Edward Goldberg, brought to you by the University of Toronto Press...  Scholars, writers and history buffs will have direct access to the largest  — and perhaps most revealing — cache of personal correspondence from any Jew in early modern Europe.

A Jew at the Medici Court:
The Letters of Benedetto Blanis Hebreo

“Sometimes there is an extraordinary trove waiting to be found — words on paper that seem to cancel the intervening centuries and bring us face to face with the past. Between 1615 and 1620, Benedetto Blanis (c.1580-c.1647), a Jewish scholar and businessman in the Florentine Ghetto, sent 196 letters to Don Giovanni dei Medici (1567-1621), an influential member of the ruling family. In the Medici Granducal Archive, we can read these letters more or less as Benedetto wrote them — in pen and ink, with all of the peculiarities of their time. Now we can also read them in print, in a full critical edition—with transcriptions, footnotes and indices.” (Jews and Magic in Medici Florence, Chapter One, “The Piazza”, p.5.)

The Blanis letters (preserved in the Florentine National Archive) reveal the daily struggles of an extraordinary man living his life against daunting odds. They also represent the most extensive body of surviving correspondence from any Jew in those years.

In order to bring these unique documents into the mainstream of current research and writing, Edward Goldberg offers:

(1) Full archival transcriptions
(2) English language summaries
(3) Running notes clarifying the text and its content
(4) An introductory essay
(5) Three indices: People; Places; Topics

- The cover image shows Maggino di Gabriello, a Jewish entrepreneur, demonstrating a new method of silk production to Christian gentlewomen. From his Dialoghi...sopra l'utili sue inventioni circa la seta; published Rome, 1588 (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.)
- A letter from "Benedetto Blanis heb.o" (hebreo) to Don Giovanni dei Medici, featuring the name of God in Hebrew (Florence, Archivio di Stato).
- "by the Great God" - in Italian and Hebrew.
- Benedetto’s last surviving message to Don Giovanni (measuring 2.85 by 3.5 inches), smuggled out of the Bargello Prison and enclosed in a letter from his
brother Salamone Blanis (Florence, Archivio di Stato).
- "Pasqua Benedetto Blanis". Pasqua = Pesach/Passover.

- Drawings and Pen Flourishes on the back of a letter from Salamone Blanis to Don Giovanni dei Medici (Florence, Archivio di Stato).