Up until now – without considering the specific sources, which are almost all unedited and which are now being published on this portal – it has been possible to make the following considerations of a general nature regarding the acquisition of (some of the) Hebrew books by the Library.
Marco Antonio Giustinian II Letterpress
A large part of the collection was acquired naturally, at different times and in different ways, from the Jewish communities living in the Duchy of Savoy, and this helps to provide a reliable terminus post quem of after the mid fourteenth century. There is no historical or legal reference to the books possessed by the Jews of Piedmont before the condotta of 1576 emanated by Emanuale Filiberto: the condotta, which was to serve as a model for those subsequently emanated by Carlo Emanuele I, refers explicitly to the possession and the use of Hebrew books by the Jews. Not long after, under Carlo Emanuele, the tensions created by a particularly anti-semitic provincial synod and by pressure from the Inquisition, together with the economic demands of the war that led to the annexation of the March of Saluzzo (the Treaty of Lyons of 1601), inaugurated a particularly difficult period for the Jews of Piedmont: besides the exorbitant taxes they had to pay and the persecutions they were subject to, at the end of the 16th century all books in Hebrew were prohibited, with the exception of the Bible (cfr. R. Segre, The Jews in Piedmont, 3 vols I: 1297-1582 II: 1582-1723 III: 1724-1798 and Index, Jerusalem, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and Tel Aviv University, 1986-1990: vol. I, p. LXVIII and vol. II, pp. 758-759, document n. 1545). This prohibition indeed serves in part to corroborate the theory put forward by Stelio Bassi, who dated the transfer of a good number of Hebrew manuscripts to the Biblioteca Ducale to the period around 1600 (I fondi orientali della Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino, premessa a S. Noja, Catalogo dei manoscritti orientali della Biblioteca Nazionale di Torino, Torino, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1974: pp. XIII-XIV; in part. p. XIV n. 3).