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Gallery 2: First Encounters, 965–1500

Rachel Fiszel was the matriarch of the leading Jewish family in Kraków and then Kazimierz from the 1470s until the mid-16th century. After her husband died, she took over the family’s banking business and loaned money to King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, who allowed her to mint coins from his own metal, and his sons Jan Olbracht and Aleksander Jagiellończyk. Even before she was widowed in 1489, Rachel was in business on her own. In 1483, she bought a tenement house on Szpiglarska Street. Enraged that the transaction was judged illegal, she wrecked havoc on the building and was taken to court. Rachel added to the family’s prestige by marrying one of her daughters to Jacob Polak, the first illustrious Jewish scholar in Poland.