I've heard that some hundreds of years ago, in many places, the Jews were forced to live in ghettos and that the doors to the ghetto were locked at night. (See, for example, https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/venice-life-in-the-first-ghetto.)

The question is, why were the doors locked? What unwanted events might have happened at night that locking the doors would prevent?

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    Which particular ghetto are you concerned with? Given the variety of cultures and ethnic mixes across Europe I'd think it unlikely that the same rules (and reasoning) applied universally.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 19:54
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    The doors were locked by whom? Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 19:54
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    There are wiki passages related to Jews getting locked in their ghetto in Venice between the early 16th and the late 18th. They're unsourced on wikipedia, albeit oft-repeated elsewhere. In your shoes I'd take them with a grain of salt and double check by locating primary sources. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 20:27
  • @DenisdeBernardy. I am not much of a historian. What primary sources do you suggest I consult. (A little web search did not turn up much.) Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 21:17
  • Hmm. I am new here. Would whomever voted down my question please tell me why. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


The article you reference focuses on the Jewish ghetto in Venice Italy.

The article indicates that the Jewish community was forced to live on an island in Venice that was the site of an old foundry.There were two bridges that connected the island to the rest of Venice. The bridges and the canals were guarded. The inference in the article is that the Jews were locked into the ghetto at night to prevent them from getting out, into the other parts of Venice. The rulers of Venice believed the Jews:

"could not be integrated and had to be kept apart"

According to this article:

In Renaissance Europe, Jews were seen as a threat to Christianity.

Although they were viewed as a threat:

Jews were useful because they were prepared to lend to the very poor. The programme tells us that in times of economic difficulty, as in the early 16th century, steps were taken to foster the Jewish community; by providing credit to high risk groups Jews could help boost consumer spending.

Another source:

The Venetian Republic segregated its Jews to placate the Roman Catholic Church, which had already forced the expulsion of Jews from much of Western Europe. https://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/venice_ghetto.htm


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