(fl. late 14th century), financier. Lewko was the most important financial backer to serve Polish kings during the second half of the fourteenth century. Coming from Kraków, he was the son of Yarden and Kaszyca; was married to Swonka (Zwonka); and was the father of Avraham, Kena‘an, Yisra’el, Yarden, and Golda. A member of a council convened by Casimir the Great in 1368 to discuss the organization of salt mines, Lewko became the co-lessee of such mines in Bochnia and Wieliczka and also helped administer the royal mint in Kraków.
In the 1360s, Lewko acted as an intermediary to raise a payment from the townspeople for the governor, Bodzanta, who held royal estates around Kraków. In 1370, at the king’s request, the Kraków city council granted Lewko and his family a letter guaranteeing them protection and equal rights with the citizens of the city. This guarantee was reconfirmed in 1378 and 1382. Lewko loaned money to the Polish monarchs Casimir the Great, Louis d’Anjou (also king of Hungary), Jadwiga, and Władysław Jagiełło; to the Mazovian prince Ziemowit II; to the high aristocracy, both secular and ecclesiastical (including Klemens of Kurów, the father of Mikołaj, future archbishop of Gniezno, who in 1392 asked Pope Boniface IX for protection against Lewko); to the Kraków municipal council; to nobles, using their landed property as collateral; and to burghers whose houses also served as collateral.
Lewko also dealt in real estate, including with lots and houses in Kraków. He worked in partnership with Kraków’s wealthiest Jews (including Smerlin and Jossman), as well as with the Silesian scholar and financier David Falken. Lewko lived in Kraków’s Jewish quarter, where he also owned a brewery and a number of houses, two of which were gifts from Casimir the Great. He also owned houses in other sections of the city. After his death, his widow and sons Avraham, Kena‘an, and Yisra’el (and later his grandsons Kena‘an, son of Yisra’el, and Yitsḥak, son of Kena‘an) took over his property and business interests. According to legend, Lewko owed his wealth to his possession of a sorcerer’s ring.
Majer Bałaban, Historja Żydów w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1304–1868, vol. 1, pp. 16–22 (Kraków, 1931), also available in Hebrew trans. (Jerusalem, 2002); Roman Grodecki, “Dzieje Żydów w Polsce do końca XIV w.,” in Polska piastowska, pp. 690–692, 700–702 (Warsaw, 1969); Jacob Litman, The Economic Role of Jews in Medieval Poland: The Contribution of Yitzhak Schipper (Lanham, Md., 1984), pp. 131–133; Ignacy Schipper, Studia nad stosunkami gospodarczymi Żydów w Polsce podczas średniowiecza (Lviv, 1911), pp. 116–124.
Translated from Polish by Anna Grojec