The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Rabbinic Responsa and Archival Records from Medieval Ashkenaz in Legal and Cultural Conversation

The proposed poster, prepared and presented by Dr. Rachel Furst (Munich) and Dr. Sophia Schmitt (Munich), will showcase the results of an international collaboration between scholars at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (P.I. Prof. Simcha Emanuel), Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (P.I. Prof. Eva Haverkamp-Roth), and Trier University, funded primarily by the German-Israeli Foundation (Grant No. 1359).

Rabbinic responsa and archival records have traditionally served two distinct populations of scholars studying the history of Jews and Christians in medieval Europe. In recognition of the mutual value of integrating these two bodies of historical sources with their discrete linguistic, legal, and cultural features, our project brought together experts on both corpora for extended collaboration. Its primary aim was to produce a register of responsa from the environs of the 13th and 14th century Roman-German Empire that, read together with related archival records, illuminates new avenues for research into the history of medieval Ashkenaz. The register’s collaborative commentary focuses largely on legal and economic interactions between Jews and Christians, including the administration of taxes, registration of real estate, negotiation of legal rights, and local judicial practice and forms of punishment, as well as parallel religious customs and societal conventions. We devoted particular attention to the history of law and intersections between Jewish and Christian legal systems, which has received less scholarly attention than shared social realities and intellectual interests. This focus raises fundamental methodological questions pertaining to medieval legal pluralism, mutual contacts and knowledge, interactions and influence. The scheduled online publication of the aforementioned register in connection with the database of related records at will render the rabbinic material accessible to a wide audience of medievalists; and the commentary, which is linked to an array of archival materials, will make medieval documentary history available to Judaic specialists and legal scholars at large.