< Back

Italian musicians at the Tudor Court - were they really Jews?

Alessio Rufatti

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court - were they Ten years ago an article appeared in Jewish Historical Studies which attempted to revolutionize the history of the Jews in sixteenth-century England.2 The author suggested the presence in London of a second Jewish community, different from that of the Portuguese Marranos whose presence was already well known, con? sisting of the Italian musicians who were active at the Tudor Court. The present study seeks to refute this thesis, starting with a critical discussion of some docu? ments that have recently come to light. The article which proposed the existence of a second Jewish community in London is the culmination of a series of others that appeared during the preced? ing decade.3 The starting point can be identified as a work in which Roger Prior collected evidence which, in his opinion, demonstrated the Jewish identity of the Bassano family who served King Henry VIII in the first half of the sixteenth century.4 In his latest work, however, Roger Prior admits that 'no single piece of surviving evidence proves conclusively that the Bassanos were Jewish or of Jewish origin, yet a wealth of circumstantial evidence strongly suggests so'.5 Even today, the belief that there was a second Jewish community in sixteenth century London composed of Italian musicians is widespread.6 The debate on English music of that period has been greatly affected by Professor Prior's theory firstly because the presumed Jewish musicians were very important and had a great influence on English music of that period, and sec? ondly because this opinion led an important scholar to formulate a new theory about the spread of the viola da gamba in Europe.7 The musical environment of the English Court indeed underwent a profound transformation in the 1540s following the engagement of a number of foreign musicians by the king. Most came from Italy with their families, and for over a century they exercised a practically unchallenged influence over instrumental music for 'consorts'. At Court, the Bassano family founded the consort of recorders which, until the mid-seventeenth century, was composed almost entirely of members of the family and of persons closely related to them.8 The arrival in the same period of a new string consort which included many members of the Lupo family had a decisive influence on the spread of the viola da gamba in England.9 The Lupos very probably came from Milan, as many documents in the English archives suggest. Yet it is likely that before moving to England ALESSIO RUFFATTI 1</page><page sequence="2">Alessio Ruffatti the family spent several years in Venice, from where they moved to London together with the rest of the string consort to which they belonged.10 Italian musicians dominated the consorts of cornets and trombones for a long time. Numerous descendants of the Bassano, Lupo, Kellim, Galiardello and Comey families served the Court as musicians and instrument-makers until the mid seventeenth century.11 The consort of recorders and the string consort, which were the most important attached to the Court in those years, both came from Venice where, during the same period, La Fontegara, the first Italian treatise on the recorder and on the instrumental technique of diminution, was published.12 Venice in these years was, in short, a veritable laboratory of lively experimentation in instrumental music. The Bassano family came from Bassano del Grappa, where they were known as Piva, and moved to Venice in the early sixteenth century. In 1539 Alvise, Antonio, Gaspare, Giovanni and Battista, five of the six sons of Jeronimo, the patriarch of the family, finally established themselves in England, at the Court of Henry VIII, after some visits in the preceding years. Generations of the family served the English monarchs as musicians and instrument-makers until the Res? toration. Jeronimo's sixth son, Jacomo, also visited England, but settled again in Venice, where he was active as a maker of musical instruments. Among his descendants was Giovanni Bassano, a noted musician active in Venice between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. He was a cornettist, the Maestro de' Concern at the Cathedral of San Marco, teacher in the Seminario Ducale and famous for his volumes on Diminution.13 Documents from the archives of Bassano del Grappa that have recently come to light, shed doubt on the hypothesis that the Bassanos were Jews or of Jewish origin.14 Scholars who believe that the Bassanos moved to London for religious reasons maintain that Jeronimo and his sons were Jewish refugees in Venice, expelled from Bassano with its Jewish community. They therefore hold that in Venice the Bassanos could have been converted Jews who practised Christianity only nominally, as a front in order to be able to work for Christian institutions. Judging the chances of a tranquil future in the Venetian Republic with greater scepticism than their father, the sons may have fled to England where they found a better quality of life. The same scholars then searched for confirmation of this thesis in the documents that speak of the permanent residence of the Bassano family in England. Roger Prior emphasizes that the Bassano family had contacts in England with other Italian musicians whom he presumes to have been Jews, including marriages between the Bassanos and the Lupos.15 Those who maintain that the Bassanos established themselves in London because they were Jews, base their arguments on the assumption that Jews were persecuted in Venice in the early sixteenth century and felt obliged to leave the 2</page><page sequence="3">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court city. But first of all it is important to clarify the historical and economic condi? tions affecting the relationship between the Serenissima and the Venetian Jewish community during the first half of the sixteenth century.16 The attitude of Venice towards the Jews was ambivalent. Part of the governing oligarchy was traditionally hostile to the Jewish community and declared itself against them on numerous occasions. This patrician faction followed the opin? ions of certain representatives of the Minor Orders (Franciscans), who in this period conducted a ferocious anti-Jewish campaign.17 In particular, they did not approve of the fact that Jews were permitted to live among Christians and that some of them boasted a lifestyle similar to the richest men in the city. Some of the nobility believed that the military defeats which Venice suffered during the Italian wars were divine punishment for too permissive an attitude to the Jewish community. Periodically the Venetian authorities discussed the renewal of the condotta, the residence permit given to the Jewish community. This was granted only after the payment of large sums of money. These concessions were subject to renewal after a certain time lapse. During the negotiations on the renewal of the condotta, the Serenissima put very heavy pressure on the Jews so as to win continuing financial benefits from their residence in the city. On the other hand, a portion of the Venetian nobility was convinced that it was indeed necessary to permit continued Jewish residence in the city, main? taining that the Republic must negotiate specific terms with the Jews since there was no realistic possibility of expelling them. In 1519, during the debate about the renewal of the condotta, Marin Sanudo maintained that: 'The Jews are neces? sary for the poor people since there is no Monte di Piet? here as there is in other places. One could discuss whether to let them live here or in Mestre and whether the terms of the residence permit are good or not, but do not dispute against the Jews as long as the Pope keeps them in Rome.'18 Supporters of this opinion were predominant at that time in Venice and defended their position as a conservative choice based on practical reality, as well as on economic and fiscal necessity. In 1519 the procurator, Antonio Grim ani, stated on this subject: 'The Jews are necessary to help the poor people . . . and we should confirm their residence permit ... it is not necessary to discuss these little details, but to allow the Jews to practise their moneylending activities as they have no other way of earning a living. Rather, we should negotiate well the conditions of their permanence in Venice, just as the Collegio did. While they were at Mestre, that city was burnt by enemies and since they have been admitted to live here we have regained our favourable position. During this war they have given us remarkable financial help.'19 Jewish moneylenders had accumulated huge liquid assets through their bank? ing activities, yet, due to the harsh restrictions imposed on them, these assets could not be invested in land or buildings. This capital firstly provided a steady and reliable source of ordinary tax revenue which the Republic did not want to 3</page><page sequence="4">Alessio Ruffatti give up and, secondly, was a possible source of extraordinary taxation, should the State need funds for a war or some other unforeseen emergency. Indeed, Jews were by far the main contributors to the Venetian State, as regards direct taxes.20 Monti di Piet? could not be taxed in the same way as the Jews because the profits of the former were allocated to charitable ends.21 Furthermore the Jewish community provided a source of small loans to the poor at reasonable rates of interest. Finally, the Jews lent money to members of the upper class who might find themselves temporarily embarrassed financially. Jews were admitted to settle in Venice in 1508, introducing a period of unusual liberty and tolerance during which they lived among Christians in great prosperity. Following this, however, protests were raised by the more reaction? ary part of the city nobility which led to the confinement of the community in the Ghetto Nuovo in 1516.22 In 1523 very few controversies arose when the time came to renew the Jews' condotta. In the following years the terms governing their presence became, if anything, more generous. In 1528 and 1533 the terms were renewed for another five years; and finally, in 1537, the Jews had a guaran? tee of residence in the city for another ten years.23 Anti-Semitic propaganda in Italy became acute only from the time at which it became possible to create an alternative to the low-interest loans to the poor which, until now, had been guaranteed by the Jewish moneylenders.24 The Monti di Piet?, conceived explicitly for this purpose, were credit banks inspired by the anti-Semitic Franciscan preachers, whose specific goal was loaning money not for commercial, but for charitable ends. The Christian banks resolved to succour the poor and made themselves guardians of morality by refusing frivolous or extravagant loans. They also proposed to liberate Christians from dependence on the Jewish bankers in order to minimize relations between members of the two religious communities. In the sixteenth century there were two attempts to promote a similar institution in Venice, but both failed miserably.25 The second attempt was sharply blocked by an intervention by the Council of Ten, who exercised their prerogative to intervene to protect the public interest by calling a meeting of the patricians who had proposed this initiative. This was held on 19-20 April 1524. They concluded: 'that on pain of death and the anger of this Council, they will henceforth neither propose nor speak of this matter. We decide also that they cannot and should not propose to discuss said subject of the Monte di Piet?, without express permission and deliberation of this Council.'26 The opportunity to set up a Monte di Piet? in the city of Venice was not discussed again until 1734, more than two centuries after this unsuccessful attempt.27 The reasons for this violent reaction are not clear. It is probable that there were doubts about the durability of the Monti themselves and about their tendency to corruption and bad administration. On the other hand, all those who dispense charity acquire authority over the poor, making every philan? thropic body a potentially subversive threat against State authority. The commit 4</page><page sequence="5">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court tee heading the Monte, moreover, would be made up of men not nominated directly by the Venetian authorities, but a self-electing and possibly self perpetuating oligarchy nominated by the Church. Since the Jewish banks did not manage public funds, they were not dangerous.28 From what we have said, it is clear that in the first half of the sixteenth century the Serenissima had no intention of expelling the Jewish community; indeed, their situation improved during the 1530s, precisely when the Bassanos established themselves at the Court of Henry VIII. A letter written by the Venetian ambassador at Brussels, Bernardo Navagero, in September 1545, directly confirms the climate of tolerance that pervaded the government of the Serenissima in the years in which the Bassanos moved to London. Navagero wrote that Venice, 'for liberty and security, is known as a common homeland and a refuge for all',29 concerning the arrival in Venice of Beatrice and Brianda Mendez, two women who exercised real leadership in the Marrano diaspora. Further evidence of the generosity of the Serenissima towards the Jews is the observation that the Inquisition tribunal in Venice condemned no Jews to death for crimes in matters of faith, although the Serenissima did execute some for common crimes. The Inquisition tribunal in Venice, unlike others elsewhere, was composed of clergy and of Venetian State representatives. The Serenissima exerted strict control over the activities of the Inquisition from the date of its foundation and obstructed its action in various cases. Furthermore, it is signific? ant that the Inquisition brought few cases against Jews (about 70) as compared to those against wizards and witches (about 300) or against Protestants (about To accept Prior's hypothesis one would have to believe that the Pivas lived in Venice in a state of constant danger for about twenty years. At the beginning of the 1530s, just when conditions of life for the Jews in Venice were improving, the family came to the Court at London to find refuge in case events changed for the worse. Following this, five members of the family finally settled in Eng? land with their families, in order to flee - the theory would have us believe - from the dangers in Venice. Yet if this is so, it is difficult to understand why Jacomo, after spending a brief period in England,31 should have returned to Venice to spend the rest of his life there. The theory of religious persecution would also have us believe that the Bassano brothers cynically left their father alone and defenceless against the barbaric scourge that they themselves fled. Indeed, Jeronimo probably died on 8 October 1539, a few days after their depar? ture for London. The Venice register of deaths informs us that on that day, a certain 'Jeronimo Pifaro' died at San Vidal.32 If the Pivas were Jews, what were the conditions awaiting them in England? The Jews had been expelled in 1290 and from that date for several centuries no Jew officially received permission to live there. It has been proved, however, 5</page><page sequence="6">Alessio Ruffatti that after the expulsion from Spain in 1492 some refugees reached London. This 'infectious scourge', as it was described (although as far as one can tell, the number concerned was extremely small), continued until 1498 when Henry VII promised the Spanish envoys that he would persecute without mercy any Jew or heretic discovered in his domains. On 4 February 1542 the English authorities ordered the arrest of certain foreign merchants 'suspected of being Jews' and the sequestration of their property. The merchants were freed at the request of the Queen of Portugal, who personally guaranteed that they were good Christi? ans, although proceedings were probably instituted against them again later on. Some Jews who pretended to be Calvinist refugees were forced to leave the country in the course of the harsh Counter-Reformation reaction during the reign of Mary Tudor. At this period England became more dangerous for the Jews than Spain itself, due to the Catholic restoration that Spain desired.33 Jews were not officially allowed to live in England until the Restoration. It is therefore incomprehensible why the Bassanos, if they were Jews, would have had to flee the Republic of Venice where they could freely practise their religion, to settle in a country where Judaism was forbidden and persecuted. Roger Prior conjectures that the Bassanos could have practised Judaism pri? vately, appearing outwardly as Christians.34 According to Prior, this was a wide? spread practice among Italian Jews who worked for Christian institutions. He does not cite any source to support this hypothesis. It should be explained that the practice of crypto-Judaism was not usual among Italian Jews, unlike among Jews of Iberian origin, because those in the Italian states could practise their religion openly. On the other hand, if the Bassanos were crypto-Jews, one would have to assume that at some time they had converted to Christianity. In this regard one notes that conversions from Judaism were solemn events which, by their very nature, left a deep impression on the memory of those who participated. Because the neofiti were distrusted, and it was considered desirable to control them, converts were marked out for at least two generations. The private memory of their origins was thus matched by that of the community,35 and reinforced by the mention of the Jewish origin of the family in all documents relating to them for two generations.36 In this regard, the case of Giovanni Maria Alemmano (//.1470-1530), a Jewish musician who converted to Christianity, is illuminating: even after his conversion he is recorded in the documents as Giovanni Maria Alemanni (Hebreo) or Gianmaria Giudeo.37 How is it, then, that not even a veiled reference to a Jewish origin appears in documents regarding the family members, either in Bassano or in Venice? Scholars who believe that the Bassanos emigrated for religious reasons are persuaded that their surname is proof of the Jewish origins of the family. Yet documents from Bassano del Grappa reveal that before the move to Venice they were called Piva,38 a surname that does not seem at all Jewish. This demonstrates 6</page><page sequence="7">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court that the surname Bassano, adopted by the family only after their move to Venice, was only a place name and not an indication of Jewishness. The custom of identifying a person by a place of origin was common among Christians as well as among Jews, and not only those of humble origins. For example, the painter Jacopo Bassano, whose Christian faith does not seem to be in doubt, is clearly recorded with another name, Jacopo dal Ponte, in Bassano documents con? cerning him. Giulio Ongaro wrote in one of his articles about the Bassano family: 'It might be impossible to prove, as it has been suggested, that the Bassanos were of Jewish origin. The use of a town's name as a surname (which is certainly wide? spread among Jewish families in modern Italy) is not a clear indication of such origin in the sixteenth century: a large part of the musicians active in sixteenth century Venice for which I have references (a total of about 700 names, not counting St Mark's musicians) are named after a town of origin. Much of the other evidence for their Jewishness is circumstantial.'39 If the family converted, one must suppose that this took place at Bassano and not at Venice. In fact the surname Piva could only have been adopted by the family after such an event. In this case, references to their Jewish origins would have been found in Bassano documents about the family over a long period. In a small city, control of the populace and in particular of minorities was diligent. It would be difficult for a fact of this sort to escape the authorities. The record of such an event would be preserved at Bassano for a long time, given that it was then a city of modest dimensions and strong anti-Semitic tendencies. The Bassano community never lost sight of the Piva family. The patriarch - Jeron imo - forty years after his death and sixty years after his move to Venice, was still recorded by Lorenzo Marucini, a local writer, as a personality who had contributed to the glory of his home town. Marucini, moreover, in his account of the famous musician and instrument-maker, does not hint at Jewish roots or a conversion. Marucini probably knew members of the family directly and what he wrote on the private and public life of Jeronimo seems well informed. It is rather unlikely, then, that the Venetian chronicler would have neglected to record such an important detail.40 Some documents from the Bassano del Grappa archives, narrating aspects of the Piva lifestyle before the move to Venice, cast still more doubt on the theory that Jeronimo and his sons were Jews.41 The city of Bassano del Grappa started to compile baptismal registers - which would eliminate all doubt on the issue - only after the Council of Trent, yet the Pivas were born before that date, making it impossible to find definite proof of their religious identity at the relevant point. Two deliberations of the communal council in 1502 tell us about a commission entrusted to the Pivas to repair and tune the organs of the church of S. France? sco a Bassano. As mentioned above, the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw an 7</page><page sequence="8">Alessio Ruffatti anti-Semitic campaign of unprecedented violence led by the friars. At Bassano, too, the Franciscans led protests against the local Jewish community. They became advocates of a plan to gather funds to establish the Monte di Piet?, which was necessary for the dismissal of the Jews.42 The Communal Council of Bassano discussed this proposal in these terms in the early sixteenth century: 'It would be good and useful for the health of the souls of the Bassano populace to have and to maintain in this territory of Bassano and its district one location and convent of Religious of the Order of the Seraphic and Blessed Francis . . . even for the sake of completely expelling the Jewish moneylenders from the said territory.'43 It would be difficult to believe that such ferocious enemies of the local Jewish community as the friars of St Francis at Bassano would entrust work on their church organs to Jewish craftsmen. A notary's deed of 1481 testifies to the renewal of rent of four fields by Jeronimo Piva's father. The contract, drawn up with the Benedictine monastery of S. Croce di Campese, a village near Bassano, relates to a family of relatively poor Venetian peasants who just managed to survive by working the land. Yet at this period there is no documentary evidence in the Venetian republic of Jewish peasants in such destitute circumstances as those described in this con? tract. Furthermore, it would be difficult to conceive of a Jewish family being so closely linked to a Benedictine monastery. The family possessed a house in Borgo del Leon a Bassano. The names first of Jeronimo and then of his sons appear in those documents that record the payment of property tax. The numerous land registers conserved at Bassano contain abundant data about the family throughout the sixteenth century, but there is no indication anywhere of a conversion.44 Roger Prior believes that the Nasi sisters, who married the Bassanos, were also Jewish. But one must ask how it is that in the documents that concern them - for example in the 1570 controversy over the possession of the family house in Borgo del Leon in Bassano del Grappa - there is no mention at all of their Jewish identity?45 As we have seen, it is clear that Venetian Jews in the sixteenth century were not forced into exile by the authorities. On the contrary, once the Venetians had allowed the Jews to live in the city at the beginning of the sixteenth century, they remained closely bound by economic ties with the community. The evidence in the Bassano del Grappa archives demonstrates that the Bassanos were, to all appearances, Christians and there is therefore no justification for the assumption that they were Jews. This reasoning could also be applied to the members of the string consort who also came from Venice and to which some of the Lupo family belonged. To prove whether or not all the musicians that Prior supposes were Jews were indeed so, would require archival research similar to that which has been com? pleted on the Bassano family. In some cases one can rely on other previous 8</page><page sequence="9">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court investigations. For example, in Shlomo Simonsohn's research on the Jews in the Duchy of Milan there is no sign of the Lupo family,46 who certainly came from that city.47 These conclusions, if accepted, refute the initial premise and demolish one of the main supports of the theory that there was a community of Italian crypto Jewish musicians in Tudor London. The theory also loses interest from a musi cological point of view, for Venetian families were certainly the most important of the Italian musicians who settled at the English Court in the early sixteenth century. Since there is no confirmation of the theory that the Bassano family's migra? tion was forced by religious persecution, it would be useful to try and understand what did cause them to move first to Venice and then London. When the Pivas moved to Venice, the War of the League of Cambrai was in full swing and the situation at Bassano was very difficult.48 The mainland was subject to passing armies who sacked and fired houses in every territory that they crossed. Venice, on the other hand, remained untouched and was a secure haven for those who feared for their lives. In addition, at Bassano there was no guarantee that the talent of the Pivas would be adequately recognized and rewarded. All the other musicians of that period born in Bassano del Grappa probably moved elsewhere for this reason. Marucini, the chronicler of Bassano, mentions Zanetto Bornacino, trombonist and singer who moved to the Court of the Duke of Mantua, and Giacomo Scattola, a violinist who was much in demand at the principal European Courts.49 The move of the Bassanos and many other Italian musicians to London was probably determined by the social and economic circumstances of instrumental? ists in Venice and London. In the first half of the sixteenth century the situation of instrumentalists in Venice was insecure. Although various opportunities for occasional work were available, very few were employed full-time.50 In this period, only a few institutions in Venice offered musicians regular employment: San Marco, the Scuole Grandi and the Cathedral of San Pietro in Castello.51 The musicians of the Scuole Grandi, as opposed to those of San Marco, were often priests or craftsmen who gave their services on Sundays and those holidays which required a ceremony or celebratory procession with musical accompani? ment. The regularly employed Cantori di San Marco usually received 50 ducats a year, while the highest-paid musicians in the Scuole Grandi received a max? imum of 12 ducats per year.52 The economic conditions of the musicians who played in the Scuole Grandi were decided by the Guardian Grande, the person at the head of the brotherhood, who decided the budget for music - often motiv? ated by financial restrictions. Thus, with every change of Guardian, the position of the musicians was reassessed and often cuts were made. Morale was very low among the musicians of the Scuole Grandi due to constantly uncertain conditions which drove them to seek employment elsewhere.53 Moreover, in the fraternities 9</page><page sequence="10">Alessio Ruffatti there were fewer instrumentalists than singers. They were not employed with the same regularity and were paid substantially less.54 In the smaller Scuole and in the monasteries the more important holy days were marked with processions and magnificent celebrations, similar in every respect to those at the Scuole Grandi. On these occasions, as at the Scuole Grandi, different instrumentalists and singers were engaged.55 Other employment opportunities took the form of private celebrations: musicians were often hired for weddings, baptisms, ban? quets and the numerous occasions that occurred during Carnival. Obviously these were occasional engagements.56 One exception to this survey is the sonadori di violini of the Scuola di San Marco. This group, formed during the 1530s, gradually assumed more import? ance and stability until they held a more considerable role than the Scuola's singers themselves.57 In Venice there existed until the end of the fifteenth century a group of wind instrumentalists called Pifferi del Doge ('the Doge's pipers'), who were engaged in processions and on numerous public occasions. Such cornet-and-trombone groups were very common during this period.58 Unfortunately, documentation about them is very scarce and consists mainly of accounts in diaries or illustra? tions in paintings.59 As far as one can tell, the group was composed of a limited number of instrumentalists, ranging from six to nine. The Pifferi participated in many public occasions, but it is unfortunately impossible to tell from the research if there was a constant nucleus or if, here too, the conditions of employ? ment were uncertain. Whatever the case, the tiny number of instrumentalists who formed the company did not enable many people to make a living from this profession. Given this background, it is not surprising that in 1539 the English ambas? sador in Venice wrote to the authorities at home confirming that, although the Bassanos were, in his opinion, the best musicians in Venice, they were poor and could not afford to pay for their journey to England.60 The situation at the Tudor Court was very different. During the medieval period the many minstrels at the English Court were mainly wandering musi? cians who travelled from Court to Court and were rewarded for their services on an ad hoc basis. During the reign of Edward IV (1461-1483), only five musi? cians served permanently at the Court in London, while when the Bassanos settled in London in 1540, more than forty musicians were employed at the Tudor Court on a permanent basis.61 Edward VI, in 1552, had sixty-five musi? cians, excluding those assigned to the royal chapel who played sacred music at religious functions.62 In other words, towards the middle of the sixteenth cen? tury, musicians employed by the Tudor monarchs could count on steady employment and a high wage, besides many legal and financial privileges. Above all, they could rely on a permanent position and could dedicate themselves full time to music, without having to worry about finding alternative ways of earning a living.63 10</page><page sequence="11">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court In London, moreover, the Bassanos benefited from a social and economic status decidedly higher than any other professional musician in England in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Some members of the family were granted noble titles.64 Having sketched this background and clarified some of the conditions of life and work in Venice and London in the early sixteenth century, one can conclude that what led this group of Venetian musicians to move to the Court of Henry VIII were the generous conditions offered by the English sovereign and the prospect of a guaranteed, well-paid and stable life-style, as opposed to the pre? carious life they were then leaving. For this reason, some of the most important musicians of the experimental laboratory for instrumental music in early sixteenth-century Venice moved to London towards the end of the 1530s and had a decisive influence on English music of that period. NOTES 1 This article has been extracted from Alessio Ruffatti, Ricognizione Documentaria sulla Famiglia del Bassano Musicisti e Costruttori di Strumenti. (1470 ca. - 1600 ca.); Due Approfondimenti: Identit? Religiosa della Famiglia e Selezione di Mottetti Diminuiti da Giovanni Bassano, ['Documentary Evidence Concerning the Bassano Family, Musicians and Instrument-makers (c. 1470-r. 1600); Two Studies: The Religious Identity of the Family and a Selection of Motets by Giovanni Bassano'], thesis presented at the University of Padua, December 1996. I owe particular thanks to Professor Pier Cesare Ioly Zorattini for his valuable help and for the time he generously made available to me. Without him my thesis and this article would not have been possible. 2 Roger Prior, 'A Second Jewish Community in Tudor London', Trans. JHSE XXXI (1990) 137-52. 3 Roger Prior, 'The Bassanos of Tudor England', Jewish Chronicle Literary Supplement, 1 June 1979, pp. i-ii; Idem, 'Shakespeare, the Bassanos and the Merchant', Jewish Chronicle Literary Supplement, 12 June 1981, pp. iv-v; Idem, 'Jewish Musicians at the Tudor Court', The Musical Quarterly 69 (1983) 253-65; Idem, 'More (Moor? Moro?) Light on the Dark Lady', Financial Times, 10 October 1987, p. XVII. Prior restates the positions expressed in his previous works in his recent volume, David Lasocki with Roger Prior, The Bassanos: Venetian Musicians and Instrument Makers in England 1531-1665 (Aldershot 1995) 92-8. 4 Prior, 'The Bassanos of Tudor England' (see n. 3). 5 Lasocki and Prior (see n. 3) 92. 6 The most recent works which discuss this group of musicians and take up this theory are: Peter Holman, Four and Twenty Fiddlers (Oxford 1993) 15, 82-5, 86-7, 105-6; John Harper, 'Ensemble and Lute Music in Britain', The Blackwell Music in Britain (Oxford 1995) IL269; Fiona Kisby, 'Royal Minstrels in the City and Suburbs of Early Tudor London: Professional Activities and Private Interests', Early Music XXV (1997) 201, 217, n. 16. 7 Holman, Four and Twenty Fiddlers (see n. 6) IS 8 Cf. Lasocki and Prior (see n. 3) 147-51. 9 Cf. 'The arrival of the King's "newe vialls" was something of a landmark in the history of the viol in England ... it signaled the period of growth in the popularity of the consort of viols in England'. Ian Woodfield, The Early History of the Viol (Cambridge 1984) 208. 10 Holman, Four and Twenty Fiddlers (see n. 6) 80-1. 11 Harper (see n. 6) 269: 'The influx of these foreign musicians and instrument makers into London is as musically important as the formation of a series of new instrumental groups at Court, staffed in the majority by a small group of foreign families, who continued to dominate court music until the Commonwealth: . . . The principal development took place in the second part of the reign of Henry VIII.' John Stevens, 'Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor II</page><page sequence="12">Alessio Ruffatti Courf (Cambridge 1961) 299: 'The great increase in the number of instrumental musicians in the royal household is one of the impressive facts of the years 1470 to 1550.' 12 Sylvestro Ganassi, Opera Intitulata Fontegara (Venice 1535; Facsimile edition, ed. Luca De Paolis, Societ? Italiana del Flauto dolce - Hortus Musicus (Rome 1991). 13 There is a substantial amount of published material about the family. Lasocki and Prior (see n. 3) collects the results of the most recent studies on the topic. 14 The documents are quoted and discussed in Alessio Ruffatti, 'La famiglia Piva-Bassano nei documenti degli Archivi di Bassano del Grappa', Musica e Storia VI/2 (1998). 15 Prior, 'A Second Jewish Community in Tudor London' (see n. 2) 137-52. However, there is no trace of the Lupo family, who seem to have originated from Milan, in the documents collected in Shlomo Simonsohn, The Jews in the Duchy of Milan (Jerusalem 1982). 16 The reconstruction of the historical and social circumstances in the Venetian State in the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries is based mainly on the work by Pier Cesare Ioly Zorattini, 'Gli ebrei a Venezia, Padova e Verona', Storia della Cultura Veneta dal primo Quattrocento al concilio di Trento (Vicenza 1981) IL537-76, and Brian Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institution of a Catholic State to 1620 (Oxford 1971; Italian translation: Brian Pullan, La politica sociale della Republica di Venezia 1500?1620 [Rome 1982]). Concerning crypto-Judaism, cf. Brian Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice 1550-1670 (Oxford 1983; Italian translation: Brian Pullan, iGH ebrei dEuropa e Vlnquisizione a Venezia dal 1550-1670' [Rome 1985]). Also see Giovanni Chiuppani, 'G/z ebrei a Bassano (Monografia documentataf (Bassano 1907); Attilio Milano, 4Storia degli ebrei in Italia' (Turin 1963); Corrado Vivanti (ed.) Storia degli ebrei in Italia I: DalValto Medoevo all eta del ghetti (Turin 1996). The page quotations of Pullan's book follow the Italian edition. 17 Pullan, La politica sociale (see n. 16) 533. 18 Cf. Rinaldo Fulin et al. (eds) / diari di Marin Sanudo, 58 vols (Venice 1879-1903) XXVIII, col. 62: 'perche una volta e necessario hebrei per la povera zente, non vi hessendo monte di la piet?, come e in le altre terre, e tenirli qui o a Mestre si poteva parlar, e se li capitoli era boni over non; ma non disputa contra Hebrei, quali fino il Papa li tien a Roma.' 19 Pullan, La politica sociale (see n. 16) 540. / diari di Marin Sanudo (see n. 18) XXVIII, cols 62-3. 'E necessari hebrei per sovegnir la povera zente [. . .] bisogna confirmar li soi capitoli, . . . e che non bisogna queste pizocharie, e lassar che zudei presti a usura, perche non vivono di altro; ma ben conzar li capitoli come ha fato il Colegio; et che al tempo i steva a Mestre, fo brus? Mestre da i nimici, poi vegnudi in questa terra havemo recuper? il Stado. Et che in questa guerra ne ha ajuta di assa' danari.' 20 Cf. Pullan, La politica sociale (see n. 16) 556. 21 Ibid. 551. 22 This was the first quarter, located in the parish of S. Geremia in Cannaregio, to which the Jews were forced to move. Cf. / diari di Marin Sanudo (see n. 19) 523; Pullan, La politica sociale (see n. 16) 525-62. 23 Pullan, La politica sociale (see n. 16) 547. 24 Ibid. 495. 25 Ibid. 544-53 26 Ibid. 550: 'che sotto pena de la vita et indignation de questo Conseio non debano pi? proponer ne parlar de ditta materia. Sia etiam preso che decetero non possi ne debi pi? proponer ne parlar de consimel materia del Monte di la Piet?, senza expressa licentia et deliberation de questo Conseio'. 27 Zorattini, 'Gli ebrei a Venezia, Padova e Verona' (see n. 16) 543. 28 Pullan, La politica sociale (see n. 16) 551-3. 29 Bernardo Navagero, Lettero alia Signoria, Brussels, 5 September 1545, Biblioteca Natzionale Marciana, MSS Italiani, VII, 992 (9606), c. 240V. 'Venezia per libert? et sicurta e riputata patria commune et refugio di tutti'. On the subject of these women, see the introduction to the work of Pier Cesare Ioly Zorattini, Processi del S. Ufficio di Venezia contro ebrei e giudaizzanti 1548-1560 (Florence 1980) 29-32. 30 Ibid. 37-46. 31 Where, according to Prior's hypothesis, he found refuge from the presumed persecution of himself and his family in Venice. 32 I. Vas, Provveditori alia Sanitd, reg. 794, 8 October 1539, cited in Giuglio Ongaro, 'New documents on the Bassano family', Early Music 20 (1992) 410. 33 For a complete reconstruction of these events, see Lucien Wolf, 'The Jews in Elizabethan England', Trans JHSE XI (1926) 1-92; Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford 1941); Cecil Roth, 'The Middle Period of Anglo-Jewish History (1290 12</page><page sequence="13">Italian musicians at the Tudor Court 1655) Reconsidered', Trans jfHSE XIX (1955) 1-12; Cecil Roth, A History of the Marranos (New York 1932 and 1974) chap. X; Salo Wittmayer Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews (New York 1973) XV: 74-160. 34 This subject was studied by Pier Cesare Ioly Zorattini, 'Ebrei sefarditi, marrani e nuovi cristiani a Venezia nel Cinquecento', E Andammo Dove II Vento Ci Spinse (Genoa 1992); Idem, Processi del S Ufficio di Venezia contro ebrei e giudaizzanti (1548-1734) (Florence 1980-94), 12 vols; Pullan, Gli ebrei dEuropa (see n. 16). 35 Similar cases are also cited in Chiuppani (see n. 16) 71. 36 In the early-sixteenth century some Italian lawyers even identified the origin of their Jewish clients, describing them, for example, as De Apulia, de Hispania, siculus, gallicus, cf. Renata Segre, 'La Controriforma: espulsioni, conversioni, isolamento', in Vivanti (see n. 16) 711. 37 Giovanni Maria Alemanni served the popes, the doges of Venice and the dukes of Urbino and Mantua. See entries 'Giovanni Maria' in Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem 1971) and 'Alemannus, Joannes Maria' in: Alberto Basso (ed.) Dizionario Enciclopedico Universale della Music a e del Musicisti (Turin 1983-90) . 38 Twenty years ago Eleanor Selfridge-Field supposed that the family adopted the name Bassano only after they moved to Venice. Eleanor Selfridge-Field, 'Venetian Instrumentalists in England: a Bassano Chronicle (1538-1660)', Studi musicali 8 (1979) 175 39 Ongaro (see n. 32) 412 n. 5. 40 Lorenzo Marucini, // Bassano (Venice 1577) 41 The documents referred to in this paragraph are presented and discussed in Ruffatti (see n. 14). 42 Chiuppani (see n. 16) 84, 92. 43 Bassano del Grappa, Civic Museum Archives, Delibere del Consiglio comunale, n January 1510: 'bonum et utile esse pro salute animarum personarum huius populi bassaniensis habere et tenere in hac terra Bassanum sive suo distrecto unum locum et conventum religionis et ordinis beati serafici Francisci . . . etiam pro expelendis in totum hebreis feneratoribus dicte terre'. 44 Ruffatti (see n. 14). 45 These documents were published in Ongaro, 'New documents' (see n. 32) 409-13. 46 Simonsohn (see n. 16) cites a document of 1593 referring to a certain 'Alexander Melius Lupus'. This person, however, probably had nothing to do with the family of musicians who had moved to England in 1539, over fifty years earlier. 47 See the first part of this article and Holman (see n. 6) 80-1. 48 For a detailed reconstruction of the events in Bassano during the War of the League of Cambrai see Storia di Bassano (Bassano del Grappa 1980) 72-88. 49 Marucini, // Bassano (see n. 40). 50 Jonathan Glixon, Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi (1440-1550), (Ph.D Thesis, Princeton University, 1979). 51 There are no existing documents proving the use of instruments in the Cathedral. This information was provided orally by Professor Glixon. 52 Adriano Willaert, as Maestro di Cappella of San Marco received as much as 140 ducats a year. Glixon, Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi (1440-1550) (see n. 50) 48, 181. 53 Francesco Luisi (ed.) Laudario Giustinianeo edizione comparata con note critiche con uno studio documentario suWorganizzazione musicale de lie Scuole Grandi di Venezia (Venezia, Edizioni Fondazione Levi, 1983)413-21. 54 Glixon, Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi (1440-1550) (see n. 50) 47: 'Instrumentalists were not used with such consistency and regularity as singers. Some sonadori received regular salaries, but many were paid by the occasion. Several times they were not paid at all, but were admitted to the Scuola as brothers.' 55 With regard to music in the small Scuole and the monasteries see the essays by Jonathan Glixon, 'Con canti et organo: Music at the Venetian Scuole Piccole in the Renaissance, in Music in Renaissance Cities and Courts', in Jessie Ann Owens and Anthony Cummings (eds) Studies in Honor of Lewis Lockwood (Warren, MI, 1997) 123-40; Idem, 'Music for Venetian Nuns', 29th Annual Symposium on Themes in Florentine and Venetian Renaissance (Venice, in press); Idem, 'The Musicians of the Cappella and the Scuole: Competition or Collaboration?' (Francesco Passadore and Franco Rossi); Idem, La Cappella musicale di San Marco nelVet? moderna (Venice 1997). I am grateful to Professor Glixon for this precious information and for having given me the chance 13</page><page sequence="14">Alessio Ruffatti to read many important works awaiting publication. 56 Glixon, Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi (1440-1550) (see n. 50) 216-19. 57 With regard to this group and on the violin in the sixteenth century in general, see Rodolfo Baroncini, 'Contributo alia storia del violino nel sedicesimo secolo: i "sonadori di violini" della Scuola Grande di San Rocco a Venezia', Re cere are VI (1994). 58 See Jonathan Glixon, Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi (1440-1550) (see n. 50) 209-15; Howard Mayer Brown, 'A Cook's Tour of Ferrara in 1529', Rivista italiana di musicologia 10 (1975) 216-41; William F. Prizer, 'Bernardino piffaro e i pifferi e tromboni di Mantova: strumenti a fiato in una corte italiana', Rivista italiana di musicologia 16 (1981) 151-84; Osvaldo Gambassi, // Concerto Palatino della Signoria di Bologna: cinque secoli di vita musicale a corte (1250-ijgy) (Florence 1989). 59 Jonathan Glixon, Music at the Venetian Scuole Grandi (i440-1550) 209-13. 60 Lasocki and Prior (see n. 3) 15, n. 47. 61 Walter Woodfield, Music in English Society from Elizabeth to Charles I (Princeton 1953) 297-8. 62 John Stevens, Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court (Cambridge 1961) 299. In 1547 at court there were 47 instrument players. Woodfield, Music in English Society (see n. 61) 298-9. 63 Ibid. 195 'Good pay counted for much, but with it the musicians needed, and had, what was at least an important feeling of security. Their immunity from vagrancy laws, their freedom from local restrictions and duties, the permanence of their positions, along with their superior pay, enabled them to be at their ease, to devote themselves to the improvement of their talent.' 64 Lasocki and Prior (see n. 3) 69. i4</page></plain_text>