Cherana, wife of David da La Chania: Crete, 1373

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Cherana, wife of David da La Chania: Crete, 1373


Cherana, wife of David da la Chania, née Missini


Cherana testates while she is pregnant -- and actually, seems to be in the midst of an increasingly dangerous labor. She names her brother Joseph Missini as her executor. Missini is a Jewish community leader known from both Crete's Hebrew sources and from Venetian court records. (See Lauer, "In Defense of Bigamy...") She leaves funds to have three "Old Testaments" written, and gives charity to marry off poor orphan girls. She does leave a bequest to her husband, of 500 hyperpera; she had first left 1000 hyperpera to her brother. She does not mention the baby, and thus it seems she expects herself and the child to die in childbirth.


In the name of the eternal God, amen. In the year of the incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ one thousand three hundred and seventy three, in the month of December, the twenty-fifth day, twelfth indiction, in Candia, on the island of Crete. Because no one can know the end of one’s life and we have nothing clearer than that one cannot avoid the judgment of death, it is rightly appropriate for everyone to take precautions by her own previous discretion, so that the fate of death would not befall her unexpectedly, and she would leave behind her goods disordered and disorganized.

Therefore, I, Cherana, Jewess, wife of David of Chania, Jew, resident of Candia, dangerously and evilly and doubtfully in labor for birth, nevertheless by the grace of God having a sane mind, fearing not to die intestate and my goods left behind in confusion, and wanting to arrange and organize them, had Giovanni Morgano, notary, called to me, and he was asked to write a will for me. In this, to be appointed as my sole executor in good faith is Joseph Missini, Jew, my brother, resident of Candia, so that following this, I will have ordered and commanded to have given to him after my death, so he should fulfill it. First, indeed, I bequeath to my aforementioned brother and executor 1000 hyperpera. Next, I bequeath to the aforementioned David, my husband, 500 hyperpera. Next, I bequeath to Calli, my mother, 500 hyperpera, of which 500 indeed the said Calli should have made three Old Testaments, and give to Potha, Jewess, my grandmother, 50 hyperpera. And the rest of it should go to marry off poor Jewish orphans for the sake of my soul. All the rest of my goods of whatever manner and form it seems and relates to me, I bequeath to my abovementioned brother and executor, to be distributed and given for my soul however seems fit to him for the best for my soul.

In addition, after my death, I give with full virtue and power, I grant and also confer to my abovementioned executor in good faith...[boilerplate continues here]

And this valid and stable record of my testament is to be permanent for judgment. Signed, the aforementioned Cherana, Jewess, who asked for it to be made.

I, Bertus della Porta, witness, signed below.
I, Georgius Dandolo, witness, signed below.
(S.N.) I, Giovanni Morgano, notary, completed and gave force [to the will].
Witnesses Albertus dala Porta and Georgius Dandulo.

[Trans. Rena Lauer]


Candia, Crete


25 December 1373


Archivio di Stato, Venice
Notai di Candia, b. 295, fasc. 13, fol. 1r (not. Giovanni Morgano)
McKee, Wills, no. 762




Eastern Mediterranean
Venetian Empire


Rena Lauer