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(d. 1506), customhouse leaseholder. Josko (Josef) of Hrubieszów (the son of Lea and Shakhnah of Hrubieszów; husband of Golda; brother of Szania, Mordusz, and Iczchan (Yitsḥak?); father of Pesaḥ and Shakhnah) was the most important customhouse leaseholder of Red Russia during the reigns of Casimir IV, Jan Olbracht, and Aleksander; he also served the royal court as financier and supplier.

As lessee of customs, Josko first appears in sources from 1484. Over the years he leased customs in Hrubieszów, Bełz, Włodzimierz Wołyński, Litowyż, Przemyśl, Chełm, Lubaczów, Sanok, Lublin, and Podolia. In 1505, in his capacity as a royal agent and leaseholder of the customhouses of Lwów and Bełz, Josko received the right—already enjoyed by other customs officials in Poland—to arrest anyone who refused to pay and who confiscated illegally transported goods. Half the profits from the intercepted contraband were intended for the royal coffers, half for the customs official. Josko himself was subject to royal courts, while he held jurisdiction over customs personnel.

In 1502, after Josko had incurred losses as a result of invasions of the Ruthenian lands, the king granted him a three-year exemption from taxes required of all Jews living in the Kingdom of Poland. Josko was permitted to make the payments on his lease for the Lublin and Bełz customhouses—not according to the rates in the contract, but on his own terms. In 1505, the Polish Sejm passed a statute prohibiting Jews from leasing customhouses. Initially the king allowed Josko to retain his Lwów and Bełz leases so long as his own debts to Josko remained unpaid. When in 1506 senators and deputies of the Polish Diet intervened to annul the lease agreement, Josko still obtained a two-year exemption from the jurisdiction of the state administration, and the new customhouse leaseholder was required to pay off the king’s debt to Josko.

Josko also served as financier and supplier (of items such as of spices, cloth, and velvet) to the king as well as to courtiers and officials. He owned a home near the market square in Lublin and was the only Jew to live outside the Jewish quarter. Josko left a will, drawn up in Lublin in 1506, giving his wife Golda various goods and capital invested with both Jews and Christians in Lwów, Łuck, and Chełm, and consigning his sons to her care.

Royal protection continued over Josko’s family after his death. At the confirmation of his testament in 1507, Sigismund I promised to protect Josko’s widow against wealthy creditors and the arbitrary actions of Lublin city officials. In 1510 and 1518, the king ordered that Josko’s widow be allowed to live peacefully outside Lublin’s Jewish quarter, freed her from all dues levied on the Jews of Poland, and set the amount she was to be taxed; in 1515 he freed her of all taxes and contributions levied upon Lublin’s Jews.

Suggested Reading

Maurycy Horn, “Jews and Townsmen in the Service of the Polish Kings and Lithuanian Grand Dukes in the Years 1386 –1506,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, pt. 1, 135–136 (1985): 3–19, pt. 2, 137–138 (1986): 3–151, both parts summarized in English; J. Mazur, “Joszko z Hrubieszowa: Theloneator totius Regni i jego działalność na tle dziejów Żydów lwowskich na przełomie XV i XVI wieku,” in Żydzi i judaizm we współczesnych badaniach polskich, vol. 3, ed. Krzysztof Pilarczyk, pp. 25–34 (Kraków, 2003).



Translated from Polish by Anna Grojec