This paper proposes a novel interpretation of the situation of the Jewish community in Papal States during the first two years of the papacy of Pius IX. Much has been written about the initial popular enthusiasm about the "liberal" new pope and his gestures toward reform. In this, measures dire
cted toward the Jews of Rome are often cited. It is also well known the considerable excitement among the Jews themselves about the new pope. However, a deeper examination of the subject shows many nuances and complexity. Not the least of these is providing a clear chronology of the reforms that did take place in these unstable months. This essay wants to clarify the limits both of the emancipation that the pope was willing to undertake and of public opinion's reactions to it, limits that are not widely appreciated. Among the other contributions of this piece is a bringing together of various pieces of evidence about the impact of popular anti-Jewish sentiment in Rome and how the measures opening up the ghetto provoked anti-Jewish violence. Previous literature has illustrated this, but here various strands of literature are brought together in a clear and compelling way, togheter with a large selection of printed sources (poems, pamplets, newspaper's articles) and the archival materials utilized from the Archivio di stato of Rome and the Vatican Archives.