City on the Italian lake of the same name. Como never possessed a Jewish community, although a single Jewish family, with employees and servants, lived there for a time and conducted a banking business which was handed down from father to son for four generations. They owed their permission to live in Como to the dukes of Milan—at first to the Viscontis and then to the Sforzas—who granted them protection partly for the sake of their taxes and the benefit to be derived from entering into business relations with them, and partly from dictates of humanity, though the inhabitants of Como and the adjacent districts were extremely hostile to the Jews.
In 1436 Duke Philip ordered the city to admit Giuseppe and his son Abraham, of Mantua, to whom the council of Como had in the previous year refused admission. The city authorities, however, demanded, in addition to the payment by the newcomers of the usual taxes, that they wear the Jews' badge. Abraham's son Mandolino opened a bank at Mandello, Lake of Lecco; and in 1467 his son Benedetto obtained the exclusive right for a period of ten years to conduct a bank in the territory of Como. No more Jews were to be admitted except those from Lugano. Notwithstanding this restriction of competition, however, Benedetto failed in 1472.
The city intended to expel the Jews in 1478; but, on the intervention of the duke, it made a new contract with them for ten years, restricting usury and increasing their taxes. But the inhabitants remained hostile; and Benedetto's widow, named Gentile, was obliged to appeal to the duke to protect her rights. She had been required to sell her house at a sacrifice, because it was too near a convent, and, for a similar reason, to leave a house which she had rented; and she was even prevented from moving into a third dwelling, for which she had already paid. Finally she asked the duke to secure for her "a safe and permanent lodging in a locality not isolated." As the hostility of the inhabitants increased during the excitement following the blood accusation at Trent (1475), the Jews disappeared entirely from Como.
- Motta Ebrei in Como, in Periodico della Societé Storica per la Provincia e Diocesi di Como, 1885, v.