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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Jews lived in Spain in very early times, although the legend that Solomon's treasurer Adoniram died there, as well as the story that the Jews of Toledo, in a letter addressed to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, declared against the crucifixion of Jesus, can not be credited. Yet it is certain that the apostle Paul intended to visit Spain to proclaim his new teaching to the Jews living there, and that Vespasian, and especially Hadrian, who was himself a Spaniard, transported several Jewish prisoners to Spain. Several passages in the Talmud and in the Midrash (Leviticus Rabbah) which treat of refer undoubtedly to Spain (Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." 1:128; Kohut, "Aruch Completum," 1:188); and the Jewish coins unearthed in ancient Tarragona give evidence of an early settlement of the Jews in Spain, either voluntary or involuntary.
The earliest Jewish tombstone with a Latin inscription and discovered in Spain is that unearthed at Adra; it is of a Jewish girl, and dates back to the third century (Hübner, "Inscriptiones Hispaniæ Latinæ," p. 268, Berlin, 1869; Rios, "Hist." 1:68). The Jews spread rapidly over the Pyrenean peninsula, and were well treated under the sovereignty of the Arian Visigoths; they lived on an equality with the other inhabitants, engaged in trade and agriculture, and were often entrusted with judicial offices. The first attempt to disturb the friendly relations that existed between Jews and Christians originated with the Council of Elvira (303-304), which consisted of nineteen bishops and twenty-four presbyters, the bishops being chosen from Cordova, Seville, Toledo, Saragossa, and other cities inhabited by Jews. This council under pain of excommunication prohibited the Christians from living with Jews or eating in their company; it forbade also the blessing of the produce of Jewish fields "in order that the ecclesiastical benediction might not appear fruitless and vain."
The position of the Jews became even less favorable when King Recared (586-589), for political reasons, abjured the Arian faith before the third Council of Toledo and entered the Catholic Church. In order to confirm the converted Arians in the Catholic faith and to win the clergy over to his side, he endeavored to prevent the Christians from associating with the Jews, who, as the allies of those opposed to his conversion, might have proved dangerous opponents of his religious plans. At the Council of Toledo in 589 he issued an order to the effect that Jews might not acquire or own Christian slaves, nor fill public offices, nor have intercourse with Christian women; the circumcision of a slave or of a Christian was punished with confiscation of property. Recared did not, however, succeed in enforcing his laws. The Arians, recently converted to the Catholic faith, were true allies of the Jews, who were oppressed like themselves; and the Jews were therefore protected by the Arian bishops and by the independent Visigothic nobility. The successors of Recared were, as a rule, better disposed toward the Jews, King Sisebut being the first who endeavored to enforce fully the laws enacted by Recared. He ordered that the Jews, on pain of the loss of their property, should release all their Christian slaves within a short time, and that in the future they might not hold any slaves.
Under the Visigoths.
Sisebut decreed the first persecution of the Jews in Spain. Whether he was influenced by Emperor Heraclius, or whether the clergy brought it about, is unknown, but he ordered that within a year all Jews should either submit to baptism or leave the Visigothic kingdom forever. Many Jews fled; but the greater number, more than 90,000, saved their property and their homes by embracing Christianity, though at heart they remained Jews. On account of this forcible conversion the king was severely criticized by Isidor of Seville, the most learned Spaniard of the time. During the reign of Suintala the fugitives returned to their country and the baptized Jews openly professed Judaism again. Forced to abdicate his throne, Suintala was succeeded by Sisenand. The latter was the tool of the clergy, and at the fourth Toledan Council (633) he ordered that the children of baptized Jews should be taken from their parents and given to Christians or to the cloisters for education. He ordered also that all Jews who had been forcibly baptized and who practised Jewish ceremonies should be given away as slaves.
The council called at Toledo by Chintila not only confirmed all the previously enacted anti-Jewish laws, but it ordained that no Jew might remain in the country, and that in the future every king at his accession should promise on oath to proceed with the greatest severity against all relapsing baptized Jews. The pseudo-Christians presented to the king a written statement declaring that they would live as good Catholics; but under Chindaswind they openly returned to the fold of Judaism. King Receswind was more severe than any of his predecessors. He ordered that Jews who practised the rites of their faith should be beheaded, burned, or stoned to death. The Jews of Toledo promised (653) to observe the Church regulations, including that ordering them not to abstain from eating pork. Nevertheless, they continued to observe the Jewish festivals and to ignore the Christian, so that the clergy at length insisted upon their celebrating the Christian holy days under the supervision of the Church authorities.
The severe measures taken by the Visigothic civil officers as well as by the councils were mainly directed against the secret Jews, whom the clergy considered more dangerous than the unbaptized ones; the latter were, therefore, left in peace. Erwig, however, attempted to force these to accept baptism, threatening them with the confiscation of their property or with expulsion if they refused; he pronounced the severest punishments for the reading of anti-Christian writings and for practising the rite of circumcision. All the anti-Jewish laws proposed by this king were accepted by the twelfth Toledan Council, presided over by Archbishop Julian of Toledo, who had published several writings against the Jews, although he was himself of Jewish origin and kept a Jewish servant.
Egica, the son-in-law and successor of Erwig, in the beginning of his reign showed himself mild toward the Jews. When, however, they allied themselves with the Arabs, who threatened the kingdom (which already was suffering from internal disturbances), the king confiscated all their property, and, in order to render them harmless for all time, declared all Jews, baptized or not, to be slaves and distibuted them as gifts among Christians. Jewish children over seven years of age were taken from their parents and similarly dealt with (end of 694).
The Arrival of the Moors.
Witiza, the son of Egica, is described sometimes as a paragon of virtue and sometimes as a veritable fiend; the latter description of him is the one generally given by ecclesiastical writers. Lucas de Tuy, Archbishop Rodrigo, Ambrosio de Morales, Juan do Mariana, and other Spanish historians hold that this king, to further heretical ends, misused the previous decisions of the councils, that he recalled the exiled Jews, granted them privileges, and even entrusted them with public offices. Whether this be true, or whether, as is more probable, he oppressed them as his predecessors had done, it remains a fact that the Jews, either directly or through their coreligionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain and that they greeted them as their deliverers. After the battle of Jerez (711), in which African Jews fought bravely under Kaula al-Yahudi, and in which the last Gothic king, Rodrigo, and his nobles were slain, the conquerors Musa and Ṭariḳ were everywhere victorious. The conquered cities Cordova, Malaga, Granada, Seville, and Toledo were placed in charge of the Jewish inhabitants, who had been armed by the Arabs. The victors removed the disabilities which had oppressed the Jews so heavily, and granted them full religious liberty, requiring them to pay only the tribute of one golden dinar per capita (Adolf do Castro, "Historia de los Judios en España," pp. 33 et seq.; Rios, "Hist." 1:106 et seq.; G. van Vlooten, "Recherches sur la Domination Arabe," Amsterdam, 1894).
A new era now dawned for the Jews of the Pyrenean peninsula, whose number had been considerably augmented by those who had followed the Arab conquerors, as well as by later immigrants from Africa. Hardly a decade after the conquest, however, many Jews left their new home in order to follow a man named Serenus (Zanora, Zonaria) who had appeared in Syria and had proclaimed himself the Messiah (721); the governor, Anbasa (Ambisa), who was collecting enormous sums for the fiscus, confiscated the property of the emigrating Jews for this purpose. Under the Ommiad 'Abd al-Raḥman I., whose greatness is said to have been foretold by a learned Jew who became his adviser, a flourishing kingdom was established, of which Cordova was the center. During 'Abd al-Raḥman's reign the Jews devoted themselves to the service of the califate, to the study of the sciences, and to commerce and industry, especially to trading in silk and slaves, in this way promoting the prosperity of the country. Southern Spain became an asylum for the oppressed Jews of other parts. Bodo-Eleazar, a convert to Judaism, went to Cordova, where he is said to have endeavored to win proselytes for Judaism from among the Spanish Christians; but that the mass of the Spanish Jews of the period in question hated the Christians and aimed at making proselytes is not correct.
Under 'Abd al-Rahman I. and Al-Ḥakim.
The reigns of 'Abd al-Raḥman I. (called Al-Nasir; 912-961) and his son Al-Ḥakim were the golden era for the Spanish Jews and Jewish science. 'Abd al-Raḥman's court physician and minister was Ḥasdai ben Isaac ibn Shaprut, the patron of Menahem ben Saruḳ, Dunash ben Labraṭ, and other Jewish scholars and poets. During his term of power the scholar Moses ben Enoch was appointed rabbi of Cordova, and as a consequence Spain became the center of Talmudic study, and Cordova the meeting-place of Jewish savants. After the downfall of Al-Ḥakim, who likewise favored the Jews, a struggle for the throne broke out between Sulaiman ibn al-Ḥakim and Mohammed ibn Hisham. Sulaiman solicited the assistance of Count Sancho of Castile, while Mohammed, through the agency of wealthy Jewish merchants in Cordova, obtained the aid of Count Ramon of Barcelona. For this Sulaiman took fearful revenge upon the Jews, expelling them mercilessly from city and country (1013).
With the overthrow of the Banu Amir the power of the Mohammedan state in Spain came to an end,the mighty califate of Cordova being divided into twelve minor states under different califs. The Abbadites ruled in Seville, the Hammudites in Malaga, the Zayrids in Granada, the Beni-Hud in Saragossa, and others in Almeria, Toledo, Valencia, Niebla, etc. Several Jews left Cordova for Malaga, Granada, Toledo, Murcia, and Saragossa.
Samuel ibn Nagdela.
Among those who fled from Cordova was the Talmudist and linguist Samuel ha-Levi ibn Nagdela (Nagrela), who went to Malaga, which, together, with the towns of Jaen, Ronda, etc., belonged to the kingdom of Granada, founded by the Barbary tribe of Sinhagah. Samuel won the favor of the vizier of King Ḥabus of Granada; he appointed him his private secretary and recommended him to the king as counselor, and upon the death of the vizier the king made Samuel his minister and entrusted him with the administration of diplomatic affairs. Samuel, who resided in Granada, officiated as rabbi also, and took an active interest in the sciences and poetry. He retained his court position under King Ḥabus' son Badis, whom he aided against his elder brother Balkin. Samuel remained the protector of his coreligionists, who in Granada enjoyed full civic equality, being eligible for public offices and for service in the army.
A position similar to that of Samuel's was occupied, though only for a short time, by Jekuthiel ibn Ḥasan in Saragossa. Jekuthiel shared the fate of Samuel's son Abu Ḥusain Joseph ibn Nagdela, who succeeded his father as minister upon the latter's death (1055); Abu Ḥusain was accused by his enemies of treason after having held office for eleven years, and was crucified before the gate of Granada on Dec. 30, 1066. On this occasion all the Jews of Granada who had not sought salvation in flight, fifteen hundred families in number, fell victims to the rage of the populace. This was the first persecution of Jews on the Peninsula while under Islamic rule. All Jews were compelled to leave Granada, several finding refuge in Lucena. In the year of the persecution in Granada the talented philosopher Abu al-Faḍl ibn Ḥasdai was appointed vizier in Saragossa; he was the son of the poet Joseph ibn Ḥasdai, who had fled from Cordova in 1013, and he held the office of vizier until Abu Amir Yusuf al-Mu'tamir ascended the throne. The scholar Isaac ibn Albalia, who had escaped the butchery in Granada, was appointed astronomer to Mohammed al-Mu'tamid in Seville, who was a patron of science and poetry; Isaac was appointed also rabbi of all the congregations in that city. At the same time Al-Mu'tamid employed Joseph ibn Migas on diplomatic missions.
Under the Almoravides.
Terrified by the conquests of King Alfonso VI. of Castile, Al-Mu'tamid, heedless of the remonstrances of his son, called to his aid the ambitious Yusuf ibn Tashfin of North Africa. In the terrific battle of Zallaḳa (Oct., 1086), in which Jews fought bravely both in the Christian and in the Moorish army, Yusuf won a victory and the sovereign power. The Almoravides, a warlike, fanatical religious sect, now became the rulers of southern Spain; they did nothing to improve the welfare of the Jews. Yusuf ibn Tashfin endeavored to force the large and wealthy community of Lucena to embrace Islam. Under the reign of his son Ali (1106-43) the position of the Jews was more favorable. Some were appointed "mushawirah" (collectors and custodians of the royal taxes). Others entered the service of the state, holding the title of "vizier" or "nasi"; among these may be mentioned the poet and physician Abu Ayyub Solomon ibn al-Mu'allam of Seville, Abraham ibn Meïr ibn Ḳamnial, Abu Isaac ibn Muhajar, and Solomon ibn Farusal (murdered May 2, 1108). The old communities of Seville, Granada, and Cordova prospered anew.
Under the Almohades.
The power of the Almoravides was of short duration. A fanatic of North Africa, Abdallah ibn Tumart, appeared about 1112 as the upholder of Mohammed's original teachings concerning the unity of God, and became the founder of a new party called the Almohades, or Muzmotas ("Shebeṭ Yehudah," p. 3, gives the correct date as 4872 [= 1112]). Upon the death of Abdallah, 'Abd al-Mu'min took the leadership and endeavored with sword and brand to exterminate the Almoravides as political and religious enemies. In North Africa he won victory after victory. In the same year in which the Second Crusade brought new distress to the German Jews, 'Abd al-'Mu'min passed over to southern Spain in order to wrest that country from the Almoravides. He conquered Cordova (1148), Seville, Lucena, Montilla, Aguilar, and Baena, and within a year the whole of Andalusia was in the possession of the Almohades. As in Africa, so in Spain, the Jews were forced to accept the Islamic faith; the conquerors confiscated their property and took their wives and children, many of whom were sold as slaves. The most famous Jewish educational institutions were closed, and the beautiful synagogues every where destroyed.
The terrible persecutions by the Almohades lasted for ten years. On account of these persecutions many Jews made a pretense of embracing Islam, but a great number fled to Castile, whose tolerant ruler, Alfonso VII., received them with hospitality, especially in Toledo. Others fled to northern Spain and to Provence, in which latter country the Ḳimḥis sought refuge. Various attempts on the part of the Jews to defend themselves against the Almohades were unsuccessful; the courageous Abu Ruiz ibn Dahri of Granada especially distinguished himself in such a conflict (1162; see "Al-Maḳḳari," ed. Gayangos, 2:23). The part taken by the Jews in the struggle against the Almohades must not be underestimated; the latter's power was broken in the battle of Navas de Toledo on July 16, 1212.
In Castile and Leon.
The first Christian princes, the counts of Castile and the first kings of Leon, treated the Jews as mercilessly as did the Almohades. In their operations against the Moors they did not spare the Jews, destroying their synagogues and killing their teachers and scholars. Only gradually did the rulers come to realize that, surrounded as they were by powerful enemies, they could not afford to turn the Jews against them. Garcia Fernandez, Count of Castile, in the fuero of Castrojeriz (974), placed the Jews in many respects on an equality with Christians; and similar measures were adopted by the Council of Leon (1020), presided over by Alfonso V. In Leon, the metropolis of Christian Spain until the conquest of Toledo, many Jews owned real estate, and engaged in agriculture and viticulture as well as in the handicrafts; and here, as in other towns, they lived on friendly terms with the Christian population. The Council of Coyanza (1050) therefore found it necessary to revive the old-Visigothic law forbidding, under pain of punishment by the Church, Jews and Christians to live together in the same house, or to eat together.
Ferdinand I. of Castile set aside a part of the Jewish taxes for the use of the Church, and even the not very religious-minded Alfonso VI. gave to the church of Leon the taxes paid by the Jews of Castro. Alfonso VI., the conqueror of Toledo (1085), was tolerant and benevolent in his attitude toward the Jews, for which he won the praise of Pope Alexander II. To estrange the wealthy and industrious Jews from the Moors he offered the former various privileges. In the fuero of Najara Sepulveda, issued and confirmed by him (1076), he not only granted the Jews full equality with the Christians, but he even accorded them the rights enjoyed by the nobility; this fuero was applied also in other cities, as Toledo (1085), Leon (1090), Miranda de Ebro (1099), etc. The example set by Alfonso was followed in Aragon and Navarre, as is evidenced by the fueros of Jaca (1100), Tudela (1115), Belforado (1116), Carcastello (1129), Calatayud (1131), and Daroca (1142). To show their gratitude to the king for the rights granted them, the Jews willingly placed themselves at his and the country's service. Alfonso employed Jews for diplomatic errands, as, for example, the scholar Amram ben Isaac ibn Shalbib, whom the king sent with a delegation to Mohammed al-Mu'tamid at Seville (1082; according to some sources, not before 1085). A prominent position at Alfonso's court was held probably by the otherwise unknown Samuel ben Shealtiel ha-Nasi, who died on the 16th of Elul (Aug. 27, 1097), or by his father, whose tombstone has but recently been discovered in Arevalo ("Boletin Acad. Hist." 25:489 et seq.).
The Battle of Zallaka.
Alfonso's army contained 40,000 Jews, who were distinguished from the other combatants by their black-and-yellow turbans; for the sake of this Jewish contingent the battle of Zallaḳa was not begun until after the Sabbath had passed. Before the battle the king sent not only to the bishops, but to the Jewish scholars and astrologers also, to hear their predictions for the future (Fernandez y Gonzalez, "Las Mudejares de Castilla," pp. 41 et seq.). The king's body-physician and confidant was the Jew Cidelo (Cidelus), who placed before the king a petition from the counts and grandees of the kingdom which neither of these ventured to address to his majesty. The king's favoritism toward the Jews, which became so pronounced that Pope Gregory VII. warned him not to permit Jews to rule over Christians, roused the hatred and envy of the latter. After the unfortunate battle of Ucles, at which the infante Sancho, together with 30,000 men, were killed, an anti-Jewish riot broke out in Toledo; many Jews were slain, and their houses and synagogues were burned (1108). Alfonso intended to punish the murderers and incendiaries, but died before he could carry out his intention (June, 1109). After his death the inhabitants of Carrion fell upon the Jews; many were slain, others were imprisoned, and their houses were pillaged.
Alfonso VII., who assumed the title of Emperor of Leon, Toledo, and Santiago, curtailed in the beginning of his reign the rights and liberties which his father had granted the Jews. He ordered that neither a Jew nor a convert might exercise legal authority over Christians, and he held the Jews responsible for the collection of the royal taxes. Soon, however, he became more friendly, confirming the Jews in all their former privileges and even granting them additional ones, by which they were placed on an equality with Christians. Considerable influence with the king was enjoyed by Judah ben Joseph ibn Ezra (Nasi). After the conquest of Calatrava (1147) the king placed Judah in command of the fortress, later making him his court chamberlain. Judah ben Joseph stood in such favor with the king that the latter, at his request, not only admitted into Toledo the Jews who had fled from the persecutions of the Almohades, but even assigned many fugitives dwellings in Flascala (near Toledo), Fromista, Carrion, Palencia, and other places, where new congregations were soon established. In recognition of his faithful services Judah received, a year after Alfonso's death (1157), from his son Sancho, five yokes of land in Azaña (Illescas) for himself and his children (Fidel Fita, "La España Hebrea," 1:20 et seq.).
Under Alfonso VIII.
After the brief reign of King Sancho III. a war broke out between Fernando II. of Leon (who granted the Jews special privileges) and the united kings of Aragon and Navarre. Jews fought in both armies, and after the declaration of peace they were placed in charge of the fortresses. Alfonso VIII. of Castile (1166-1214), who had succeeded to the throne, entrusted the Jews with guarding Or, Celorigo, and, later, Mayorga, while Sancho the Wise of Navarre placed them in charge of Estella, Funes, and Murañon. During the reign of Alfonso VIII. the Jews gained still greater influence, aided, doubtless, by the king's love of the beautiful Jewess Rachel (Fermosa) of Toledo. When the king was defeated at the battle of Alarcos by the Almohades under Yusuf Abu Ya'ḳub al-Manṣur, the defeat was attributed to the king's love-affair with Fermosa, and she and her relatives were murdered in Toledo by the nobility (Rios, "Hist." 1:336 et seq.; Grätz ["Gesch." 6:228] does not accept the traditional belief concerning the murder of the king's paramour). After the victory at Alarcos the emir Mohammed al-Naṣir ravaged Castile with a powerful army and threatened to overrun the whole of Christian Spain. The Archbishop of Toledo summoned the Crusaders to the aid of Alfonso. In this war against the Moors the king was greatly aided by the wealthy Jews of Toledo, especially by his "almoxarife mayor," the learned and generous Nasi Joseph ben Solomon ibn Shoshan (Al-Ḥajib ibn Amar).
The king's debt to the latter amounted in 1204, shortly before Joseph's death, to 18,000 golden maravedis ("Vida del Santa Rey D. Fernando," 3:233). Joseph stood high in the king's favor, and his sons Solomon and Isaac benefited thereby after their father's death.
The Crusaders ("Ultrapuertos") were hailed with joy in Toledo, but this joy was soon changed to sorrow, as far as the Jews were concerned. The Crusaders began the "holy war" in Toledo (1212) by robbing and butchering the Jews, and if the knights had not checked them with armed forces all the Jews in Toledo would have been slain. When, after the sanguinary battle of Navas de Tolosa (1212), Alfonso victoriously entered Toledo, the Jews went to meet him in triumphal procession. Shortly before his death (Oct., 1214) the king issued the fuero de Cuenca, settling the legal position of the Jews in a manner favorable to them.
Under Ferdinand III. of Castile and James I. of Aragon.
A turning-point in the history of the Jews of Spain was reached under Ferdinand III. (who united permanently the kingdoms of Leon and Castile), and under James I., the contemporary ruler of Aragon. The clergy's endeavors directed against the Jews became more and more pronounced. The Spanish Jews of both sexes, like the Jews of France, were compelled to distinguish themselves from Christians by wearing a yellow badge on their clothing; this order was issued to keep them from associating with Christians, although the reason given was that it was ordered for their own safety. The Jews did all in their power to secure the repeal of this order. James I. of Aragon and Theobald I. of Navarre, however, compelled them to wear the badge, and Innocent IV. admonished Ferdinand III. to see that no Jew appeared in public without it.
But in spite of papal bulls and royal decrees the Jews were often freed from this degradation. Pedro III. of Aragon granted some Jews in Valencia, Tarragona, Barcelona, and other cities exemption from wearing the badge, this privilege being especially extended to physicians ("R. E. J." 6:91 et seq.). Ferdinand III. of Castile and James I. of Aragon (each called "the Conqueror," the former with reference to Cordova and Seville, the latter with reference to the Balearic Isles, Valencia, and Murcia) were religiously inclined, and did not feel particularly friendly toward the Jews, whose conversion they favored. Nevertheless, they made use of the Jews in time of war, and rewarded them for the important services they rendered as secretaries and dragomans, tax-collectors, and tax-farmers. In the cities conquered by him Ferdinand confirmed the Jews in their existing rights and privileges, and after the conquest of Seville he distributed land among them; moreover, in spite of the objections of the clergy he allowed the Jews of Cordova to erect a new and magnificent synagogue. James acted similarly after his conquest of Valencia.
Disputations and Translations.
That Ferdinand's death was mourned by the Jews is evidenced by the Hebrew epitaph which appears on his tombstone, together with inscriptions in Latin, Castilian, and Arabic (the Hebrew epitaph is reprinted in Kayserling's "Ein Feiertag in Madrid," p. 12). The death, also, of James I. (1276), who had arranged a religious disputation between Moses ben Naḥman (the "Rab de España") and the neophyte Pablo Christiano, and who had compelled the Jews to listen to conversionist sermons, was publicly mourned by the Jews. Ferdinand's son, Alfonso X. (the Wise), who was a lover of the sciences, maintained relations with the Jews even before his accession to the throne (1252). He had astronomical and astrological writings translated from Arabic into Spanish by Judah ben Moses (Mosca) Kohen, a physician of Toledo, and by the physicians Abraham and Samuel Levi. Zag (Isaac) ibn Sid, the ḥazzan of Toledo, was the editor of the famous astronomical tables called, after the king, the see see ALFONSINE TABLES (regarding the astronomical congress see Steinschneider in "Magazin für die Literatur des Auslandes," 1848, No. 58; idem, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 1356 et seq.; idem, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 979 et seq.; Grätz, "Gesch." 7:467). According to his nephew Juan Manuel, Alfonso did not have the Talmud translated (Rios, "Hist." 1:450); but, probably, he had a translation made of "Toda la Ley de los Judios," as he had the Koran rendered into Spanish. The version of the Bible in that language, the subsequent "Ferrarian Bible," was made probably in the thirteenth century (BIBLE TRANSLATIONS).
Alfonso, who employed Meïr de Malea and his sons Isaac (Zag) and Joseph as treasurers, and Todros ha-Levi, Solomon ibn Albagal, and other Jews as tax-collectors, granted to the Jews of his domains several privileges and other favors. He permitted the ALJAMA in Toledo to build a magnificent synagogue, the largest and most beautiful one in Spain; he gave all Jews permission to visit the yearly market in Seville; and in 1264 he assigned houses, vineyards, and lands to the Jews who settled in St. Maria del Puerto (Rios, "Hist." 1:451 et seq.). Notwithstanding this he subjected the Jews to the strictest limitations, especially in his Fuero Real or Fuero Juzgo, as well as in other laws, contained in the large collection "Siete Partidas," which was issued in the Castilian language and in which the influence of the Lateran Council is unmistakable.
Bull of Innocent IV., 1250.
The bull issued by Innocent IV. in April, 1250, to the effect that Jews might not build a new synagogue without special permission, was placed on the statute-books by this king (reprinted in Rios, "Hist." 1:557). To make proselytes was forbidden to the Jews under pain of death and confiscation of property. They might not associate with the Christians, live under the same roof with them, eat and drink with them, or use the same bath; neither might a Christian partake of wine which had been prepared by a Jew. The Jews might not employ Christian nurses or servants, and Christians might use only medicinal remedies which had been prepared by competent Christian apothecaries. Every Jew should wear the badge, though the king reserved to himself the right to exempt any one from this obligation; any Jew apprehended without the badge was liable to a fine of ten gold maravedis or tothe infliction of ten stripes. The Jews were forbidden to appear in public on Good Friday. Alfonso, called "the Wise," was so deluded that he not only used as a theme for his "Libro de las Cantigas" the false legend that the Jews every year on Good Friday crucified a Christian child, but he ordered that every Jew accused of such a crime should be brought before him and, if convicted, slain. Alfonso requested the Jews to live peacefully in their Juderia and to observe conscientiously their religious laws; he ordered that they should not be disturbed in their religious ceremonies or summoned before courts on Sabbaths or festivals; that their synagogues and their sacred furniture should be in every way respected; and that they should be neither forced nor bribed into embracing Christianity.
The last years of Alfonso's reign were sad ones, as well for himself as for the Jews in his dominion. The king condemned to death his faithful "almoxarife" Zag de Malea, because the latter had given to the infante Sancho, who had quarreled with his father, a large sum of money which the king had intended to use in the subjugation of Algeciras (Malea). Incensed by the act of Malea, the king, in direct opposition to his previous enactments, ordered that on a certain Sabbath all Castilian Jews should be taken prisoners while in their synagogues; he levied upon them a tribute of 12,000 gold maravedis, imposing an additional fine of the same amount for every day the tribute remained unpaid (Rios, "Hist." 1:494). Four years later (1281) the king was dethroned by his son Sancho, with the sanction of the Cortes. Alfonso died in 1284, forsaken by his children, and even by the clergy to which he had made liberal concessions.
The Jews in Spain were Spaniards, both as regards their customs and their language. They owned real estate, and they cultivated their land with their own hands; they filled public offices, and on account of their industry they became wealthy, while their knowledge and ability won them respect and influence. But this prosperity roused the jealousy of the people and provoked the hatred of the clergy; the Jews had to suffer much through these causes. The kings, especially those of Aragon, regarded the Jews as their property; they spoke of "their" Jews, "their" Juderias, and in their own interest they protected the Jews against violence, making good use of them in every way possible. The aljamas of Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia, for example, were in 1281 ordered by King Pedro III. to furnish 185,000 sueldos in subsidies, and, three years later, a further sum of 130,000 sueldos (order reprinted in Rios, "Hist." 2:530). In addition to these extraordinary disbursements, the Jews of Aragon and Castile had to pay very large taxes, the money thus obtained being often expended by the kings in gifts to queens, infantes, knights, and bishops, as well as to churches and cloisters.
Sancho IV., the son and successor of Alfonso X., was the first king who, with the aid of his Jewish tax-collectors, levied and regulated the taxes payable by the aljamas to the crown of Castile, under which belonged the provinces of Old and of New Castile, Leon, Galicia (sparsely inhabited by Jews), Estremadura, Murcia, and Andalusia. All Jews of twenty—according to other sources, sixteen or fourteen was the age limit—were required to pay a tax of thirty dineros to remind them of the "thirty pieces of silver" alleged to have been paid by their ancestors to bring about the death of Jesus. This tax, called the "servicio," was not imposed upon the Jews of the archbishopric of Toledo, the bishoprics of Cuenca and Plasencia, the provinces of Murcia and Leon, and the frontier district of Andalusia. The Jews paid also the "encabezamiento," or poll-tax. The apportionment of the taxes among the various communities was entrusted by the king to a committee consisting of Jacob ben Yaḥya (not Jahjon) of Niebla, Isaac ben Azor of Jerez, and Abraham Abenfar of Cordova (the representative from Jaen did not appear), which met in Huete in 1290. If these failed to agree upon the apportionment, David Abudarham the Elder and the aljama of Toledo were to decide.
Population and Dispersion.
The total yearly taxes paid by the Jews of Castile amounted to 2,801,345 maravedis. To base upon this amount any calculation as to the number of Jews then living in the kingdom is not possible; the total of 854,951 given by Rios, or that of 850,000 by Grätz, is surely too large, while 233,784, the estimate of Loeb, must be considered too small. There were about 120 Jewish communities, of which the following were the most important: Toledo, Hita, Almoguera, Burgos, Carrion, Avila, Medina del Campo, Valladolid, Cuenca, Huete, Atienza, Paredes de Nava, Logroño, Almazan, Soria, Villanueva, Ucles, Pancorbo, Sahagunt, Sepulveda, Olmedo, Murcia, Osma, Najera, Talavera, Villa Real, Guadalajara, Arevalo, Plasencia, Villa Diego, and Sant Estevan. Among the communities of lesser importance were the following: Maqueda, Briviesca, Alcaráz, Calahorra, Aguilar, Ayllon, Belforado, Badajoz, Alcalá, Zurita, Vitoria, Buitrago, Albelda, Peñafiel, Trujillo, Roa, Bejar, Miranda, Cea, Castiello, Lerma, Medina de Pomar, Olmeda, Pedraza, Alfaro, Fuendidueña, and Verlanga (the "Repartimiento de Huete," reprinted from the original in Rios, "Estudios," pp. 40 et seq., and "Hist." 2:53; the foregoing list, with some deviations, is found in "Hist." 2:531 et seq.; a faulty list is given by Asso y del Rio and Manuel y Rodriguez in "Discorso Sobre el Estado de los Judios en España;" p. 150, Madrid, 1771, which work has been followed by Lindo, "History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal," p. 109, where the names of the towns are misspelled; see also "R. E. J." 14:161 et seq.; Grätz, "Gesch." 7:168 et seq., where some incorrect statements are made).
Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia were more sparsely inhabited by Jews. The largest congregations were found in Tortosa, Gerona, Barcelona, and Valencia; then followed Saragossa, Calatayud, Monzon, Lerida, Teruel, Jaca, Fraga, Huesca, and Barbastro. Smaller congregations existed in Exea de los Caballeros, Tauste, Besalu, Cervera, Tarragona, Ruesca, Manresa, and Villafranca.
The Jews were burdened with various other taxes in addition to those already mentioned. Whenever the kings of Aragon or Castile stayed in a city in which a Jewish community existed, the Jews were required to provide the royal household with beds and other furniture; this duty involved many hardships and led to ill treatment of the Jews by royal servants; it could be escaped, however, by the payment of a specified sum, which was called "yan tares" in Castile, "cenas" (= "table expenses") in Aragon. The taxes were so oppressive that in 1354 the representatives of the Jewish communities of Aragon resolved to petition the king to relieve them of this burden ("He-Ḥaluẓ," 1:25). On the occasion of a royal visit to a city inhabited by Jews they paid a tribute to the royal guard, the "Monteros de Espinosa"; for a long time this payment amounted to twelve maravedis for each copy of the Torah; later it was fixed at four silver reals. In addition to all these taxes the Jews paid a coronation-tax ("coronaciones"), pasture-tax, tithes on houses for the bishops and their households, special customs duties and bridge-tolls, etc.
Although the Spanish Jews engaged in many branches of human endeavor—agriculture, viticulture, industry, commerce, and the various handicrafts—it was the money business that procured them their wealth and influence. Kings and prelates, noblemen and farmers, all needed money, and could obtain it only from the Jews, to whom they paid from 20 to 25 per cent interest. This business, which, in a manner, the Jews were forced to pursue in order to pay the many taxes imposed upon them as well as to raise the compulsory loans demanded of them by the kings, led to their being employed in special positions, as "almoxarifes," bailiffs, tax-farmers, or tax-collectors. Jews were employed as "almoxarifes" by Sancho, as well as by the infante Manuel and by the latter's consort Beatriz. Among Jews holding such positions may be mentioned Samuel, Abraham al-Barchilon, and Cag and Abraham ibn Susan. Without the material assistance of the Jews King Sancho, whose secretary was Cag de Toledo, would hardly have succeeded in collecting the taxes.
Opposition of the Cortes.
The "almoxarife mor," or treasurer, of King Ferdinand IV., the son and successor of Sancho, was Samuel, who exercised unlimited authority in diplomatic affairs, thereby incurring the animosity of the queen-mother, Maria de Molina, to such a degree that he narrowly escaped assassination. Queen Maria had full confidence in Todros Abulafia, and her "almoxarife" was Isaac (Samuel?) ibn Ya'ish. Judah Abravanel was for several years financial adviser to Infante Pedro. The jealousy and hatred witḥ which the Christian population regarded the Jews were often openly revealed at the meetings of the Cortes in Aragon, as, for example, in Lerida (1300), and in Saragossa and Alagon (1301). Upon the motion of the Cortes in Valladolid (1293) Sancho IV. decreed that Jews might no longer acquire or own real estate; the Cortes of Burgos (1301) and that of Medina del Campo (1305) demanded that they be no longer employed as tax-farmers or -collectors; and complaints of the usury practised by Jews were frequent. Whenever their own interests were at stake the kings of Aragon protected the Jews, and for extraordinary services rendered by the latter (as, for example, by the aljamas of Tortosa) they often conferred special privileges upon them. On account of the accruing taxes a number of Jewish families that had been expelled from France were admitted into Aragon. Actuated by similar motives, Ferdinand IV. of Castile also protected the Jews of his domains, whom he termed "his own Jews," against arbitrary oppression by the clergy, since he could not dispense with their assistance at the conquest of Gibraltar.
Upon Ferdinand's death (1312) Maria de Molina assumed the reins of government. She employed Jews as tax-collectors, and she even had a Jew, Rabbi Don Mosse (Moussi), as "despensoro" (steward of the household) as late as 1320. At the request of the Cortes of Burgos, the queen, with the infante and the guardians of the young king, and under the direct influence of the Council of Zamora, decreed that Jews might no longer bear Christian names, nor associate in any way with Christians, and that Jewesses might wear no ornaments whatever, whether pearls, gold, or silver. The claims of Jewish creditors were reduced, but no Christian debtor might appeal to a papal bull for the cancelation of his indebtedness to a Jewish creditor. The queen put a fine on usury, and she limited the rate of interest that might be charged. She ordered also that all processes, civil as well as criminal, should be brought before the local magistrate for adjudication. Infante John Manuel, who, like Ferdinand IV., employed the Jew Abraham as his body-physician, restored criminal jurisdiction to the rabbinate; this he did at the request of Judah b. Isaac ibn Waḳar of Cordova, who stood high in the royal favor (Asheri, Responsa, 17:8).
Under Alfonso XI.
Complaints against the Jews continued to be made in the Cortes, and in the beginning of the fourteenth century their position was precarious throughout Spain; many Jews emigrated from Castile and from Aragon. It was not until the reigns of Alfonso IV. and Pedro IV. of Aragon, and of the young and active Alfonso XI. of Castile (1325), that an improvement set in. The last-named king protected the Jews against arbitrary enactments and violence, especially in the archbishopric and city of Seville, where Jew-hatred had been nurtured for a long time and where the Jews had been oppressed in every imaginable way by the clergy. The king ordered that in those places every Jew of sixteen or over should pay a tax of thirty dineros, or three maravedis. As his "almoxarife" the king selected Joseph ben Ephraim Benveniste ha-Levi; he was the king's confidant and used his influence with him in favor of his coreligionists in such a manner that the Cortes of Madrid complained bitterly about it. The hatred of the populace grew still deeper, especially against Joseph Benveniste, who, through the intrigues of a lady of the court, came near losing his life (1326).
When, therefore, one of the king's favorites, Garcilaso de la Vega, had been murdered in Soria, and another, Count Alvar Nuñez, had been deposed from office, the grandees of the kingdom endeavored to bring about Joseph's downfall. But instead, he was raised to a higher position; the title of"almoxarife" was abolished, and that of "tesorero" (treasurer) substituted; and it was resolved that thenceforth no Jews should be employed as tax-collectors. Quarrels, which finally led to their ruin, broke out between Joseph Benveniste, who had retained his place in the king's confidence, and Alfonso's body-physician and favorite, Samuel ibn Waḳar, who had obtained permission to mint coins of small denominations. A nobleman and minister of state, Gonzalo Martinez, whom Joseph had helped to obtain high positions, brought against both the accusation that they had enriched themselves while in his Majesty's service, imprisoned them, and confiscated their fortunes. Joseph died in prison, and Samuel suffered torture on the rack. Two other Jews, Moses Abudiel and Ibn Ya'ish, who stood in high favor with the grandees, succeeded in disproving the same accusation by sacrificing large sums of money; Ibn Ya'ish is probably identical with the above-mentioned "almoxarife" of Maria de Molina.
Gonzalo Martinez was contemplating the extermination of all Castilian Jews when Alfonso XI. unexpectedly found himself involved in war. The Emir of Granada, who had declared war against the King of Castile on account of a decree issued upon the advice of Ibn Waḳar, and prohibiting the importation of cereals from Granada, called to his assistance 'Abd al-Malik, the son of Abu al-Ḥasan (Albohacon), King of Morocco, who came to his aid with a large army. Alfonso appointed Gonzalo Martinez commander-in-chief, and as money for carrying on the war was lacking, the latter advised the confiscation of the property of the Jews and their expulsion from the country. The Archbishop of Toledo, however, opposed this proposition, as did, probably, the king himself. In this war, which ended with the victory of Salado and the conquest of the fortress of Algeciras (1339), the Jews rendered very important services, for which the king highly praised them. Gonzalo Martinez, the arch-enemy of the Jews, was sentenced to death as a traitor and burned at the stake. When King Alfonso returned triumphantly from the war the Jews greeted him everywhere with great enthusiasm ("Shebeṭ Yehudah," ed. Wiener, pp. 30 et seq.; Rios, "Hist." 2:133 et seq.; see Martinez).
Alfonso XI. favored the conversion of the Jews, and upon the appeal of the apostate Abner of Burgos (Alfonso de Valladolid) he forbade the Castilian Jews, on pain of a fine of one hundred maravedis, to continue the reading of a prayer directed against the slanderer; the king did not, however, as Grätz ("Gesch." 7:344) writes, declare canceled the promissory notes held by the Jews, but he released the Christians of one-fourth of their indebtedness to the former, and he forbade all Jews of his kingdom to practise usury in any form. On the other hand, the king allowed the Jews to acquire real estate—to the value of 30,000 maravedis beyond the Douro, and to the value of 20,000 maravedis on cisriparian soil ("Ordenamiento de Alcala," 1348).
Pedro the Cruel.
Pedro I., the son and successor of Alfonso XI. (according to his enemies Pedro Gil, the substituted child of a Jewess), was favorably disposed toward the Jews, who under him reached the zenith of their influence. For this reason the king was called "the heretic"; he was often called "the cruel." Pedro, by nature passionate and impetuous, spent his youth in seclusion in Seville, together with his mother, the Portuguese infanta Maria, who, humiliated by Leonora de Guzman, Alfonso's paramour, had been put away by the king. In the meantime Pedro's half-brother and Leonora's illegitimate son, Henry de Trastamara, was being brought up under his father's supervision, and gave, while still a boy, evidence of his courage. Pedro, whose education had been neglected, was not quite sixteen years of age when he ascended the throne (1350). From the commencement of his reign he so surrounded himself with Jews that his enemies in derision spoke of his court as "a Jewish court." The Jews remained ever his true adherents. On the recommendation of his educator and all-powerful minister, the hated John Alfonso de Albuquerque, the king appointed the latter's former agent Samuel Levi as his own "tesorero mayor" (chief treasurer), and Samuel soon became the king's confidant and companion.
It can not be ascertained to what extent Samuel favored Pedro's infatuation for the beautiful Maria de Padilla after the young king had been married against his inclination to the Bourbon princess Blanca, who hated the king's Jewish confidant and would have banished all the Jews from the country. When Pedro, two days after his marriage, left the bride that had been forced upon him, and hastened to his mistress in Toledo, the minister, Albuquerque, prepared to set out with a large retinue and bring back the deserting bridegroom, but he was stopped by Samuel Levi, who brought him a message from the king advising him to desist from his plans. Blanca, who had taken sides with Pedro's half-brother, was kept in confinement, and Albuquerque was deposed from office.
These unhappy family relations, which were primarily brought about by Alfonso XI., resulted in the bloody civil wars that brought disaster to Castile and especially to the Jews. With the alleged intention of freeing Queen Blanca, who was being held prisoner in Alcazar, Henry de Trastamara and his brother, at the head of a rapacious mob, invaded (Sabbath, May 7, 1355) that part of the Juderia of Toledo called the Alcana; they plundered the ware-houses and murdered about 12,000 persons, without distinction of age or sex. The mob did not, however, succeed in overrunning the Juderia proper, where the Jews, reenforced by a number of Toledan noblemen, defended themselves bravely.
The more friendly Pedro showed himself toward the Jews, and the more he protected them, the more antagonistic became the attitude of his illegitimate half-brother, who, when he invaded Castile in 1360, murdered all the Jews living in Najera and exposed those of Miranda de Ebro to robbery and butchery.
The days of Samuel Levi were numbered. He was ever active in the interests of the state and the king, and his skilful financial operations placed large sums at the latter's disposal. But he had manyenemies, and the animosity engendered toward him soon extended to all the Jews. A malicious satire, "Rimado del Palacio," by the contemporary poet and historian Pedro Lopez de Ayala, gives evidence of the deep hatred toward Samuel Levi and his family. Together with many other favorites of the king, Samuel was suddenly deposed from his exalted position, but not, as has been asserted, because Maria de Padilla withdrew her favor from him; the king's paramour remained for several years in the cloister in Astudillo, near Castrojeriz, to which she had been sent, and where she maintained communication with Jews ("R. E. J." 33:147 et seq.). Whether envious coreligionists accused him before the king, whether he was involved in the detected "Ricos hombres" conspiracy, or whether Pedro desired to win the favor of the clergy is not known; the fact remains that in 1360 Samuel was seized and taken to Seville, where, in November of that year, he died on the rack. His enormous fortune, consisting of 70,000 doubloons, 4,000 marks in silver, 20 (according to some sources 120) chests filled with jewelry and costly garments, and 80 Moorish slaves, was confiscated by the state. All Samuel's relatives, several of whom were tax-collectors, were arrested with him, and their property, to the value of 300,000 doubloons, seized. Samuel's successor in the office of treasurer, Martin Yañz de Sevilla, claimed to have found vast hoards of silver and gold in the underground cellars of the former's palace, which is still known as the "Palacio del Judio."
Pedro did not lack the means for carrying on warfare, but good fortune had deserted him. In order to win the Castilian throne, Henry called to his aid the dreaded "Grand Company," led by the valiant Bertrand du Guesclin. Wherever his ferocious soldiers went they fell upon the Jews; in Briviesca, near Burgos, not one living soul was left of the 200 Jewish families which had lived there. Having been proclaimed king in Calahorra, Henry entered Burgos triumphantly on March 31, 1366, the city surrendering willingly. The king levied a tax of 30,000 doubloons on the Jews there, who, in order to raise this enormous sum, were compelled to sell all their property, even the ornaments on their Torah scrolls. The Jews of Segovia and Avila also were bereft of their property, while those of Toledo, who had remained loyal to Pedro, were punished by being saddled with the maintenance of the troops in addition to being fined 1,000,000 maravedis. In his distress Pedro solicited aid from the Prince of Wales, the victor of Poitiers. Henry was forced to flee, but soon returned to Castile with fresh troops; and the Jews of Burgos, who for a long time had defended their Juderia against his attacks, were forced to pay 1,000,000 maravedis for permission to remain in the city.
Massacres of 1366.
Everywhere the Jews remained loyal to Pedro, in whose army they fought bravely; the king showed his good-will toward them on all occasions, and when he called the King of Granada to his assistance he especially requested the latter to protect the Jews. Nevertheless they suffered greatly. Villadiego (whose Jewish community numbered many scholars), Aguilar, and many other towns were totally destroyed. The inhabitants of Valladolid, who paid homage to Henry, robbed the Jews, destroyed their houses and synagogues, and tore their Torah scrolls to pieces. Paredes, Palencia, and several other communities met with a like fate, and 300 Jewish families from Jaen were taken prisoners to Granada. The suffering, according to a contemporary writer, Samuel Ẓarẓa of Palencia (see Joseph ha-Kohen, "'Emeḳ ha-Baka," ed. Wiener, Appendix, p. 131), had reached its culminating point, especially in Toledo, which was being besieged by Henry, and in which no less than 8,000 persons died through famine and the hardships of war. This terrible civil conflict did not end until the death of Pedro, to whom the victorious brother said, derisively, "Dó esta el fi de puta Judio, que se llama rey de Castilla?" Pedro was beheaded by Henry and Du Guesclin on March 14, 1369. A few weeks before his death he reproached his physician and astrologer Abraham ibn Ẓarẓal for not having told the truth in prophesying good fortune for him.
When Henry de Trastamara ascended the throne as Henry II. there began for the Castilian Jews an era of suffering and persecution, culminating in their expulsion. Prolonged warfare had devastated the land; the people had become accustomed to lawlessness, and the Jews had been reduced to poverty. The king, who began his reign by having new coins minted, considerably reduced in value (Isaac ben Sheshet, Responsa, No. 197; Rios, "Hist." 2:307), was unable to meet his obligations to Du Guesclin and his troops. For this reason, on June 6, 1369, two months and a half after his accession, he levied a tribute of 20,000 gold doubloons (about 10,000,000 dineros) on the plundered and poverty-stricken Jews of Toledo, as a punishment for their loyalty to Pedro; he ordered his treasurer Gomez Garcia to sell at public sale all property, movable or immovable, belonging to the Toledan Jews, and to imprison all the latter, women as well as men, and starve and otherwise torture them until they had raised this immense sum (see see TOLEDO).
But in spite of his aversion for the Jews Henry could not dispense with their services. He employed wealthy Jews—Samuel Abravanel and others—as financial councilors and tax-collectors. His "contador mayor," or chief tax-collector, was Joseph Pichon of Seville. The clergy, whose power became greater and greater under the reign of the fratricide, stirred the anti-Jewish prejudices of the masses into clamorous assertion at the Cortes of Toro in 1371. It was demanded that the Jews should be kept far from the palaces of the grandees, should not be allowed to hold public office, should live apart from the Christians, should not wear costly garments nor ride on mules, should wear the badge, and should not be allowed to bear Christian names. The king granted the two last-named demands, as well as a request made by the Cortes of Burgos (1379) that the Jews should neither carry arms nor sell weapons; but he did not prevent them from holding religious disputations, nor did he deny them the exercise of criminal jurisprudence. The latter prerogative was not taken from them until the reign of John I., Henry's son and successor; he withdrewit because certain Jews, on the king's coronation-day, by withholding the name of the accused had obtained his permission to inflict the death-penalty on Joseph Pichon, who stood high in the royal favor; the accusation brought against Pichon included "harboring evil designs, informing, and treason."
In the Cortes of Soria (1380) it was enacted that rabbis, or heads of aljamas, should be forbidden, under penalty of a fine of 6,000 maravedis, to inflict upon Jews the penalties of death, mutilation, expulsion, or excommunication; but in civil proceedings they were still permitted to choose their own judges. In consequence of a slanderous accusation that the Jewish prayers contained clauses cursing the Christians, the king ordered that within two months, on pain of a fine of 3,000 maravedis, they should remove from their prayer-books the objectionable passages—which did not exist. Whoever caused the conversion to Judaism of a Moor or of any one confessing another faith, or performed the rite of circumcision upon him, became a slave and the property of the treasury. The Jews no longer dared show themselves in public without the badge, and in consequence of the ever-growing hatred toward them they were no longer sure of life or limb; they were attacked and robbed and murdered in the public streets, and at length the king found it necessary to impose a fine of 6,000 maravedis on any town in which a Jew was found murdered. Against his desire, John was obliged (1385) to issue an order prohibiting the employment of Jews as financial agents or tax-farmers to the king, queen, infantes, or grandees. To this was added the resolution adopted by the Council of Palencia ordering the complete separation of Jews and Christians and the prevention of any association between them.
The Massacre of 1391.
The execution of Joseph Pichon and the inflammatory speeches and sermons delivered in Seville by Archdeacon Ferrand Martinez, the pious Queen Leonora's confessor, soon raised the hatred of the populace to the highest pitch. The feeble King John I., in spite of the endeavors of his physician Moses ibn Ẓarẓal to prolong his life, died at Alcalá de Henares on Oct. 9, 1390, and was succeeded by his eleven-year-old son. The council-regent appointed by the king in his testament, consisting of prelates, grandees, and six citizens from Burgos, Toledo, Leon, Seville, Cordova, and Murcia, was powerless; every vestige of respect for law and justice had disappeared. Ferrand Martinez, although deprived of his office, continued, in spite of numerous warnings, to incite the mob against the Jews, and encourage it to acts of violence. As early as Jan., 1391, the prominent Jews who were assembled in Madrid received information that riots were threatening in Seville and Cordova. A revolt broke out in Seville in 1391. Juan Alfonso de Guzman, Count of Niebla and governor of the city, and his relative, the "alguazil mayor" Alvar Perez de Guzman, had ordered, on Ash Wednesday, March 15, the arrest and public whipping of two of the mob-leaders. The fanatical mob, still further exasperated thereby, murdered and robbed several Jews and threatened the Guzmans with death. In vain did the regency issue prompt orders; Ferrand Martinez continued unhindered his inflammatory appeals to the rabble to kill the Jews or baptize them. On June 6 the mob attacked the Juderia in Seville from all sides and killed 4,000 Jews; the rest submitted to baptism as the only means of escaping death.
At this time Seville is said to have contained 7,000 Jewish families. Of the three large synagogues existing in the city two were transformed into churches. In all the towns throughout the archbishopric, as in Alcalá de Guadeira, Ecija, Cazalla, and in Fregenal, the Jews were robbed and slain. In Cordova this butchery was repeated in a horrible manner; the entire Juderia was burned down; factories and ware-houses were destroyed by the flames. Before the authorities could come to the aid of the defenseless people, every one of them—children, young women, old men—had been ruthlessly slain; 2,000 corpses lay in heaps in the streets, in the houses, and in the wrecked synagogues.
From Cordova the spirit of murder spread to Jaen. A horrible butchery took place in Toledo on June 20. Among the many martyrs were the descendants of the famous Toledan rabbi Asher ben Jehiel. Most of the Castilian communities suffered from the persecution; nor were the Jews of Aragon, Catalonia, or Marjorca spared. On July 9 an outbreak occurred in Valencia. More than 200 persons were killed, and most of the Jews of that city were baptized by the friar Vicente Ferrer, whose presence in the city was probably not accidental. The only community remaining in the former kingdom of Valencia was that of Murviedro. On Aug. 2 the wave of murder visited Palma, in Majorca; 300 Jews were killed, and 800 found refuge in the fort, from which, with the permission of the governor of the island, and under cover of night, they sailed to North Africa; many submitted to baptism. Three days later—Saturday, Aug. 5—a riot began in Barcelona. On the first day 100 Jews were killed, while several hundred found refuge in the new fort; on the following day the mob invaded the Juderia and began pillaging. The authorities did all in their power to protect the Jews, but the mob attacked them and freed those of its leaders who had been imprisoned. On Aug. 8 the citadel was stormed, and more than 300 Jews were murdered, among the slain being the only son of Ḥasdai Crescas. The riot raged in Barcelona until Aug. 10, and many Jews (though not 11,000 as claimed by some authorities) were baptized. On the last-named day began the attack upon the Juderia in Gerona; several Jews were robbed and killed; many sought safety in flight and a few in baptism.
The last town visited was Lerida (Aug. 13). The Jews of this city vainly sought protection in Alcazar; seventy-five were slain, and the rest were baptized; the latter transformed their synagogue into a church, in which they worshiped as Maranos (see bibliography, at end, for sources for the persecutions of 1391).
Thousands of Jews had perished, many of their communities had been annihilated; but the countryitself was the main sufferer. The Archdeacon of Ecija, the instigator of this butchery—which even as late as the nineteenth century was described as a "guerra sacra contra los Judios," or as a social eruption—although he was imprisoned four years later, after the accession of Henry III., was soon set free; and from then until his death (1404) he was honored as a saint on account of his piety. In the whole of Castile the agitators remained unpunished. More justice was exercised by John I. of Aragon, who caused twenty-five of the ringleaders—merchants, apothecaries, and tradesmen—to be taken to Barcelona from Palma, Lerida, and other towns, and publicly executed.
The "New Christians."
The year 1391 forms a turning-point in the history of the Spanish Jews. The persecution was the immediate forerunner of the Inquisition, which, ninety years later, was introduced as a means of watching the converted Jews. The number of those who had pretended to embrace Christianity in order to escape death was very large; Jews of Baena, Montoro, Baeza, Ubeda, Andujar, Talavera, Maqueda, Huete, and Molina, and especially of Saragossa, Barbastro, Calatayud, Huesca, and Manresa, had submitted to baptism. Among those baptized were several wealthy men and scholars who scoffed at their former coreligionists; some even, as Solomon ha-Levi, or Paul de Burgos (called also Paul de Santa Maria), and Joshua Lorqui, or Geronimo de Santa Fé, became the bitterest enemies and persecutors of their former brethren.
After the bloody excesses of 1391 the popular hatred of the Jews continued unabated. The Cortes of Madrid and that of Valladolid (1405) mainly busied themselves with complaints against the Jews, so that Henry III. found it necessary to prohibit the latter from practising usury and to limit the commercial intercourse between Jews and Christians; he also reduced by one-half the claims held by Jewish creditors against Christians. Indeed, the feeble and suffering king, the son of Leonora, who hated the Jews so deeply that she even refused to accept their money ("Sumario de los Reyes de España," 42:77; "Shebeṭ Yehudah," p. 87), showed no feelings of friendship toward them. Though on account of the taxes of which he was thereby deprived he regretted that many Jews had left the country and settled in Malaga, Almeria, and Granada, where they were well treated by the Moors, and though shortly before his death he inflicted a fine of 24,000 doubloons on the city of Cordova because of a riot that had taken place there (1406), during which the Jews had been plundered and many of them murdered, he prohibited the Jews from attiring themselves in the same manner as other Spaniards, and he insisted strictly on the wearing of the badge by those who had not been baptized. Henry, who employed Moses ben Ẓarẓal and Meïr Alguades as his body-physicians, died in 1406, twenty-seven years of age. In his testament the king appointed Paul de Burgos executor of his will and guardian of his son John, who was barely two years old. The regency was in the hands of the queen-mother Catalina, a bigoted, light-hearted young matron, and the infante Fernando de Antequera.
Renewed sufferings were inflicted upon the Jews when the Dominican friar Vicente Ferrer, a friend and companion of the anti-Jewish Pedro de Luna, set himself up as antipope to Benedict XIII.; Ferrer traveled from one end of Castile to the other, and everywhere zealously urged the Jews to embrace Christianity, appearing with a cross in one hand and the Torah in the other. His impassioned sermons won him great influence, and he accomplished his ends in Murcia, Lorca, Ocaña, Illescas, Valladolid, Tordesillas, Salamanca, and Zamora. He spent the month of July, 1411, in Toledo; he invaded the large synagogue, which he transformed into the Church of Santa Maria la Blanca, and he is said to have baptized more than 4,000 Jews in that city. Toward the end of the same year he went to Ayllon, where Catalina and Fernando received him with great festivities.
At Ferrer's request a law consisting of twenty-four clauses, which had been drawn up by Paul de Burgos, was issued (Jan., 1412) in the name of the child-king John II. The only object of this law was to reduce the Jews to poverty and to further humiliate them. They were ordered to live by themselves, in enclosed Juderias, and they were to repair, within eight days after the publication of the order, to the quarters assigned them under penalty of loss of property. They were prohibited from practising medicine, surgery, or chemistry, and from dealing in bread, wine, flour, meat, etc. They might not engage in handicrafts or trades of any kind, nor might they fill public offices, or act as money-brokers or agents. They were not allowed to hire Christian servants, farm-hands, lamplighters, or grave-diggers; nor might they eat, drink, or bathe with Christians, or hold intimate conversation with them, or visit them, or give them presents. Christian women, married or unmarried, were forbidden to enter the Juderia either by day or by night. The Jews were allowed no self-jurisdiction whatever, nor might they, without royal permission, levy taxes for communal purposes; they might not assume the title of "Don," carry arms, or trim beard or hair. Jewesses were required to wear plain, long mantles of coarse material reaching to the feet; and it was strictly forbidden Jews as well as Jewesses to wear garments made of better material. On pain of loss of property and even of slavery, they were forbidden to leave the country, and any grandee or knight who protected or sheltered a fugitive Jew was punished with a fine of 150,000 maravedis for the first offense (for the "Pragmatica" see Rios, "Hist." 2:496,618 et seq.; and Lindo, c. pp. 196 et seq.; see also "Shebeṭ Yehudah," p. 88). These laws, which were rigidly enforced, any violation of them being punished with a fine of from 300 to 2,000 maravedis and flagellation, were calculated to compel the Jews to embrace Christianity.
Number of Converts.
Having accomplished his purpose in Castile, Vicente Ferrer went to Aragon, where the above-mentioned infante Fernando de Antequera, who had been newly elected king, partly through the instrumentality of the Dominican friar, willingly lent himself to the latter's cause. Ferrer's fanatic zeal succeeded also in Aragon in leading many Jews to pretendedconversion, especially in Saragossa, Daroco, and Calatayud. Besides the places mentioned, he made proselytes in Albacete, Astorga, Avila, Benevent, Burgos, Leon, Mayorga, Majorca, Palencia, Paredes, Toro, Segovia, etc. The total number of Jews converted by him in Spain was, according to Mariana, 35,000; according to Zacuto ("Yuḥasin," p. 225), more than 200,000. The latter statement is greatly exaggerated; according to Usque ("Consolacem," p. 188b), the number of converts in Aragon and Catalonia was only 15,000 ("mais de quinze mil almas Judaicas"); and this figure has been accepted by Joseph ha-Kohen ("'Emeḳ ha-Baka," p. 71) and by Cardoso. The number 16,000 mentioned by Verga ("Shebeṭ Yehudah," p. 87) refers probably to Aragon. Regarding the baptisms see the elegy in the introduction to Duran's "Magen Abot" (ed. Jellinek), which has been reprinted by Grätz ("Gesch." 8:121).
One of Vicente Ferrer's most zealous assistants in the work of conversion was Joshua ibn Vives Lorqui, or Geronimo de Santa Fé, who aimed at nothing less than baptisms en masse. Lorqui, who was the body-physician of Pope Benedict XIII., influenced the latter to arrange public religious disputations. With the sanction of Fernando of Aragon, the pope issued in Nov., 1412, a request to the larger Jewish communities of Aragon and Catalonia to send two or more of their foremost scholars to Tortosa, there to hold public disputations with Joshua Lorqui regarding certain religious dogmas selected by the pope. The following representatives attended this disputation: Vidal Benveniste, Zerahiah ha-Levi Saladin, and Mattathias ha-Yiẓhari, of Saragossa; the religious philosopher Joseph Albo of Monreal; Astruc ha-Levi of Alcañiz (not of Daroca); Samuel ha-Levi (the nasi) and R. Moses ben Musa, of Calatayud; Joseph ha-Levi and Yom-Ṭob Carcosa, of Monzon; the scholar Bonastruc Desmaëstre (whose presence had been especially requested by the pope, and whose expenses were refunded him), Todrosibn Yaḥya, and Nissim Ferrer, of Gerona; and various representatives from Montalban, Huesca, etc. That the poet Solomon ben Reuben Bonfed, who is not mentioned in any of the sources, accompanied Solomon Maimon as a representative of the community of Tortosa is very unlikely (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." 14:95).
Disputation at Tortosa.
This disputation, the most remarkable ever held, commenced on Feb. 7, 1413, and lasted, with many interruptions, until Nov. 12, 1414. The first meeting, which was opened by the pope, took place before an audience of more than a thousand, among whom were several cardinals, grandees, and members of the city's aristocracy. The disputation mainly concerned the question as to whether the Messiah had already appeared, and whether the Talmud regarded him as such. Geronimo de Santa Fé, who had made false charges against the Talmud, especially opposed Vidal Benveniste (who had thoroughly mastered the Latin language and whom the other Jewish representatives had selected as their leader), Zerahiah ha-Levi, Joseph Albo, Bonastruc Desmaëstre, and Nissim Ferrer; and he was assisted by the learned neophyte Garci Alvarez de Alarcon and the theologian Andreas Beltran of Valencia, who later became Bishop of Barcelona. At the sixty-fifth meeting Joseph Albo and Astruc ha-Levi tendered a memorial in defense of the Talmud, and on Nov. 10, 1414, Astruc, in the name of all the representatives with the exception of Joseph Albo and Nissim Ferrer, declared that the haggadic passages which had been cited as evidence against the Talmud were not considered as authoritative by them. This, however, was in no way equivalent to the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah and the abandonment of Judaism, as some Spanish historians assert. (Regarding the so-called disputation of Tortosa, which really took place in San Mateo, near Tortosa, see "Shebeṭ Yehudah," ed. Wiener, pp. 67 et seq., and Rios, "Hist." 2:433 et seq. Rios claims to have made use of a Spanish manuscript from the Provincial Library in Segovia, in addition to the Latin protocol which is extant in manuscript in the Escorial. See also Zurita, "Anales de Aragon," 3:108 et seq., and Grätz, "Gesch." 8:416 et seq., where several false hypotheses are made.)
According to the not always reliable historian Zurita, more than 3,000 Jews were baptized during the year 1414; this probably was not due so much to the disputation as to the forcible conversions by Vicente Ferrer, who had returned to Aragon. In Guadalajara, as well as in Calatayud, Daroca, Fraga, Barbastro, Caspe, Maella, Tamarite, and Alcolea, many Jewish families submitted to baptism. The persecution of the Jews was now pursued systematically. In the hope of mass-conversions, Benedict issued, on May 11, 1415, a bull consisting of twelve articles, which, in the main, corresponded with the decree ("Pragmatica") issued by Catalina, and which had been placed on the statutes of Aragon by Fernando. By this bull Jews and neophytes were forbidden to study the Talmud, to read anti-Christian writings, in particular the work "Macellum" ("Mar Jesu"), to pronounce the names of Jesus, Maria, or the saints, to manufacture communion-cups or other church vessels or accept such as pledges, or to build new synagogues or ornament old ones. Each community might have only one synagogue. Jews were denied all rights of selfjurisdiction, nor might they proceed against "malsines" (accusers). They might hold no public offices, nor might they follow any handicrafts, or act as brokers, matrimonial agents, physicians, apothecaries, or druggists. They were forbidden to bake or sell maẓẓot, or to give them away; neither might they dispose of meat which they were prohibited from eating. They might have no intercourse with Christians, nor might they disinherit their baptized children. They should wear the badge at all times, and thrice a year all Jews over twelve, of both sexes, were required to listen to a Christian sermon on the Messiah (the bull is reprinted, from a manuscript in the archives of the cathedral in Toledo, by Rios ["Hist." 2:627-653]).
Effects of the Persecutions.
The persecutions, the laws of exclusion, the humiliation inflicted upon them, and the many conversions among them had greatly injured the Jews, but with them suffered the whole kingdom ofSpain. Commerce and industry were at a standstill, the soil was not cultivated, and the finances were disturbed. In Aragon entire communities—as those of Barcelona, Lerida, and Valencia—had been destroyed, many had been reduced to poverty and had lost more than half of their members. In order to restore commerce and industry Queen Maria, consort of Alfonso V. and temporary regent, endeavored to draw Jews to the country by offering them privileges, while she made emigration difficult by imposing higher taxes. After the persecutions of 1391 there were in Aragon and Castile, in addition to "Judios infides," as Paul de Burgos called them, many converts ("conversos"), or Neo-Christians. On account of their talent and wealth, and through intermarriage with noble families, the converts gained considerable influence and filled important government offices. The highest positions and dignities were held by the following Aragon families: Zaporta, Santangel, Villanova, Almazan, Caballeria, Cabrero, Sanchez, and Torrero.
The position of the Jews of Castile became somewhat more favorable under John II., who ascended the throne at the age of fourteen, upon the death of his mother, Catalina (1418); this improvement was chiefly due to the influence of the king's powerful minister, Alvaro de Luna. In order to bring system into the finances of the state, the king sought the advice of Abraham Benveniste, who enjoyed his full confidence; he appointed the Neo-Christian Diego Gonzales as treasurer; and as chief tax-farmer he installed the scholar Joseph Nasi (identical with Joseph ibn Shem-Ṭob, the philosopher and author; see the document from the archives of Vitoria in Rios, "Hist." 3:573 et seq.; "Shebeṭ Yehudah," pp. 21, 25). Other Jews, as Samuel Alhadar, acted as tax-farmers. The favors thus shown the Jews roused the anger of the old Paul de Santa Maria and his two sons, who, despite the fact that they were greatly indebted to Alvaro de Luna, hated him no less than they hated the Jews. Paul's son Alfonso de Santa Maria, who represented Spain at the Congress of Basel, brought it about that Pope Eugene IV. issued a bull against the Jews (Aug. 10, 1442). This bull, which was published in Toledo during the king's absence, was used by the enemies of the Jews as a pretext for oppressing and ill-treating them and for discontinuing all association with them.
In the interest of the Jews, as well as of the country, Alvaro de Luna induced the king to issue a decree in Aravalo on April 6, 1443, which annulled several clauses in the laws of Queen Catalina as well as in the papal bull. The Jews were allowed to engage in the various trades, as well as in commercial pursuits; and, under certain conditions, they were permitted to practise medicine. They were, however, to continue to live in their Juderias, apart from the Christians, and to wear the badge. The king made it the duty of the authorities to protect the Jews from injustice of any kind; he regarded them as his property and as standing under his immediate protection, and he ordered that any Christian assailing them should be punished with imprisonment and loss of property (this decree is reprinted from manuscript in Rios, "Hist." 3:583 et seq.; less correctly by Lindo, c. pp. 221 et seq.). The intrigues of the sons of Paul de Burgos, however, were finally successful in securing the death of Alvaro de Luna in Valladolid.
Under John II.
During the period of peace under John II. it was the first care of the Jews to reorganize their religious and communal affairs. The statesman and scholar Abraham Benveniste, who had been elected chief rabbi, called a meeting in Valladolid (April, 1432) of rabbis, representatives of communities, and other prominent men; at this meeting taḳḳanot were adopted relating to the study of Jewish law, to divine service, to the system of taxation, etc., and these rules afford an insight into the condition of the communal affairs of that time.
The Jews of Spain formed in themselves a separate political body. They lived almost solely in the Juderias, various enactments being issued from time to time preventing them from living elsewhere. From the time of the Moors they had had their own administration. At the head of the aljamas in Castile stood the "rab de la corte," or "rab mayor" (court, or chief, rabbi), also called "juez mayor" (chief justice), who was the principal mediator between the state and the aljamas. These court rabbis were men who had rendered services to the state, as, for example, David ibn Yaḥya and Abraham Benveniste, or who had been royal physicians, as Meïr Alguadez and Jacob ibn Nuñez, or chief-tax-farmers, as the last incumbent of the court rabbi's office, Abraham Senior. They were appointed by the kings, no regard being paid to the rabbinical qualifications or religious inclination of those chosen ("David Messer Leon," in "R. E. J." 23:135).
The duties of the court rabbis consisted in levying the public taxes, in adjusting complaints brought by the aljamas or by individual members, or in bringing such complaints to a higher court, and, in cases of dispute, in appointing the dayyanim (magistrates); they were, in short, to represent the aljamas before the kings and to defend their interests. As in Castile, so also in Navarre—the chief rabbis were appointed by the kings. The communal rabbi ("talmid ḥakam"), who at times practised medicine, and who in Aragon was confirmed in his office by the kings, was expected to teach Talmud, Halakah, and Haggadah, deliver Talmudic lectures, instruct the members of his congregation, and sometimes officiate as dayyan. The larger communities had several rabbis, also a bet din (corrupt Spanish, "hedines") consisting of dayyanim, whom the Christians called "rabbis." At times the archbishops appointed or dismissed the rabbis and dayyanim of the aljamas within their archbishoprics. Thus Rabbi Zulema Alfahan was dismissed from his office by Archbishop Pedro of Toledo, and the latter's physician was appointed in his place (1388), the appointment being confirmed by the king (Rios, "Hist." 2:577 et seq., 590 et seq.).
Restrictions on Autonomy.
The Jews of Castile had their own judicial system. This fact gave them a certain independence and spared them many expenses and difficulties; nor were they obliged to trouble the Christian justiceswith their quarrels. At various sessions of the Cortes, however, attempts were made to withdraw this privilege; the right to jurisdiction in criminal matters was withdrawn from them in 1380; and in 1412 this was followed by the suspension, though for a short time only, of the right to adjudicate civil cases. In the fifteenth century the Jews of Aragon likewise were deprived of independent jurisdiction; but even then the Christian alcaldes tried cases according to Jewish law. Whoever instituted proceedings before a Christian judge—with the exception of cases referring to customs, etc.—was liable to a heavy fine. The communities paid special attention to the suppression of the system of delation which had become wide-spread among the Spanish Jews (MOSER). The wealthy and influential members of the community often abused their powers by accusing coreligionists before the regents and grandees of the kingdom in order to gain special privileges or avoid taxation.
The taxes imposed were many and heavy. Besides the taxes payable to the kings (the "cabeza," "cena," "yantar," "servicio"), the Jews were required to pay tribute to their local administration, as well as to the archbishops and the Church. These taxes were assessed, according to property and income, by trusted men appointed by the aljama, and they were levied collectively on each community; small communities, or individual Jews, were considered, for the purposes of taxation, as a part of the nearest larger community. In order to escape taxation many Jews procured from the kings, queens, or princes letters of exemption; others left the royal domains and settled elsewhere; while still others endeavored to have their taxes reduced by threatening the tax-commissioners. The taxes on wine and meat ("almahona," "alcabala," "gabela"), which articles were often subjected also to royal taxation, served to maintain the Talmud Torah and to provide for the various needs of the community.
Culture and Education.
The Spanish Jews differed but little from the Christian population with regard to customs and education. They were fond of luxury, and the women wore costly garments with long trains, also valuable jewelry; this tended to increase the hatred of the populace toward them. They were quarrelsome and inclined to robbery, and often attacked and insulted one another even in their synagogues and prayer-houses, frequently inflicting wounds with the rapier or sword which they were accustomed to carry.
In their morals, and especially in regard to married life, the Jews maintained a loftier standard. With royal permission, however, a Jew might have two wives; and the Jews often won their wives in subtle ways, or through the agency of influential Christians, so that it became necessary to order that betrothals might take place only between adults, and with the express permission of the father or the brother of the bride.
Karaites in Spain.
Following the custom prevailing within the Church, the Spanish Jews often imposed sentences of excommunication upon members of their congregations. The Karaite sect, which had won numerous adherents in Castile through the instrumentality of Cid ibn Altaras and which had its headquarters in Carrion and Burgos, was persecuted by Judah ben Joseph ibn Ezra of Granada, whom Alfonso VIII. had placed in command of Calatrava after his conquest of that city in 1147; thirty years later Joseph ibn al-Fakhkhar (Farissol ?), who had great influence with Alfonso XI., succeeded in totally suppressing the sect.
The first Spanish author to undertake a polemic against the Karaites was Judah ibn Balaam ("R. E. J." 19:206 et seq.). In Spain, for centuries an El Dorado for Jewish science, which had found there its most ardent cultivators, an inconceivable degree of ignorance of Jewish matters prevailed after the end of the fourteenth century. The Jews took up other studies; the number of schools was diminished; the children remained without education; and a great many adult Jews could not even read Hebrew. This ignorance did not fail to exert an influence upon the services, which were held according to a peculiar Spanish or Castilian ritual, in most points resembling the Aragonian. This ritual was simple and consistent, and it remained uninfluenced by the poets.
The number of Jewish scholars and rabbis of distinction was comparatively small during the fifteenth century. Talmudic study, once assiduously cultivated in Toledo, Barcelona, Gerona, Monzon, and other places, was then neglected, and the endeavors of Abraham Benveniste to reawaken an interest in Talmudic science were fruitless. The last rabbinical authority of Castile, likewise its last gaon, was Isaac Companton, among whose pupils were Isaac de Leon, Isaac A boab, and Samuel Alvalensi. The last preachers of renown were the religious philosopher Joseph ibn Shem-Ṭob, his son Shem-Ṭob, Joseph Albo, and Isaac Arama.
In the Second Half of the Fifteenth Century.
The position of the Jews of Spain was fairly favorable in the second half of the fifteenth century, during the reigns of Henry IV. of Castile (1454-74) and John II. of Aragon (1456-79). Wealthy converted Jews occupied prominent positions at both courts. King Henry appointed Diego Arias Davila as "contador mayor" of the kingdom, and he employed as tax-farmers Davila's Neo-Christian relatives, as well as several Jews, among whom were Don Gaon (Chacon) of Vitoria, and Joseph and Moses Calés, Samuel Pachon, and Joseph ibn Ataf, all of Plasencia. The king, as well as the dukes and grandees, disregarded the various enactments of the Cortes which prohibited Jews from holding public offices; even bishoprics employed Jews as tax-collectors, as, for example, R. Abraham Joseph Castellano and Moses of Briviesca. John II. and Henry IV. employed Jews as body-physicians; the famous oculist Abiathar ibn Crescas served the former ruler; and Jacob ibn Nuñez, who, as "rab de la corte," assessed and collected the taxes payable by the aljamas, was employed by the latter.
Spread of the Jews in Spain.
The principal Jewish communities existed in the smaller places. The community of Toledo, formerly the largest in Spain, had grown unimportant; sohad that of Hita. Many Jews lived in the vicinity of Madrid (where no regular community existed), in such small towns as Ocaña, Guadalajara, Almazan, Bentrago, and Alcalá de Henares. The largest communities in Old Castile were those of Avila, Segovia, Soria, Aguilar del Campo, Herrera, Medina del Pomar, Calahorra, Villalon, Aranda, and Cuellar. Burgos had only a few Jews. The province of Estremadura was still thickly populated by them, comparatively large communities existing in Caceres, Badajoz, Truxillo, Xerez, Medelin, and Plasencia. Very few Jews lived in Seville, while Galicia had but one aljama—in the seaport town of Coruña. In the former kingdom of Leon, on the other hand, the Jewish population was much larger, among the most prominent communities being those of Zamora, Valladolid, Mayorga, Medina del Campo, Salamanca, Ponferrado, Bobadilla, Madrigal, and Ciudad Rodrigo. In 1374 the "servicio" taxes paid by all the Jews of Castile amounted to 450,300 maravedis—an amount considerably less than that paid two centuries before. As in Castile so also in Aragon and Catalonia the number of Jews had greatly diminished. In the last-named place only one community, that of Gerona, existed in 1438. Communities of medium size existed in Barbastro, Calatayud, Monzon, Saragossa, and Huesca; and smaller ones in Tausle, Jaca, Fraga, Egea de los Caballeros, Teruel, Almunca, and Alagon. Only a few Jews lived in Daroca (Rios, "Hist." 3:81,171,590 et seq.; "R. E. J." 14:167 et seq.; Grätz, "Gesch." 8:214).
The Cortes of 1462.
When the various city administrations requested the Cortes held in 1462 to restrict the Jews in their intercourse with Christians the Jews left the cities and settled in places which were under the jurisdiction of the counts. The popular hatred toward the Jews was stirred anew by the fanaticism of the Franciscan friar Alfonso de Spina, the author of "Fortalitium Fidei"; this friar, who held the same views as Paul de Burgos, was a sworn enemy of his former coreligionists. He incited the people against the Jews as well as against the Maranos, whom he called "Judios ocultos" to distinguish them from the "Judios publicos." In order to rouse the anger of the people he declared that the Jews were in the habit of killing Christian children. This accusation was readily believed by the credulous populace, and in Tavara, Toro, and Avila plays illustrating the supposed crime were written and acted. In Sepulvedo R. Solomon Pichon was accused of the murder of a Christian boy, and in Medina del Campo Jews were murdered and burned under similar accusations.
But the popular hatred toward the Neo-Christians exceeded that toward the professed Jews. In Toledo a bloody uprising against the Maranos took place in July, 1467, many being killed. On March 14, 1473, an outbreak occurred at Cordova, the houses of the Neo-Christians being invaded, plundered, and burned, and many of their inmates horribly butchered.
Thenceforward the history of the Jews in Spain is connected with the reciprocal relations of the "conversos" and the members of their families who had remained true to the old faith. The nobles of Spain found that they had only increased their difficulties by urging the conversion of the Jews, who remained as much a close corporation in the new faith as they had been in the old, and gradually began to monopolize many of the offices of state, especially those connected with tax-farming. At the Cortes of Fraga (1460) large numbers of "conversos" attended, much to the dismay of the hidalgos. In 1465 a "concordia" was imposed upon Henry IV. of Castile reviving all the former anti-Jewish regulations. So threatening did the prospects of the Jews become that in 1473 they offered to buy Gibraltar from this king: this offer was refused.
As soon as the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ascended their respective thrones steps were taken to segregate the Jews both from the "conversos" and from their fellow countrymen. At the Cortes of Toledo, in 1480, all Jews were ordered to be separated in special "barrios," and at the Cortes of Fraga, two years later, the same law was enforced in Navarre, where they were ordered to be confined to the Jewries at night. The same year saw the establishment of the Inquisition in Spain, the main object of which was to deal with the "conversos" (see INQUISITION). Though both monarchs were surrounded by Neo-Christians, such as Pedro de Caballeria and Luis de Santangel, and though Ferdinand was the grandson of a Jewess, he showed the greatest intolerance to Jews, whether converted or otherwise, commanding all "conversos" to reconcile themselves with the Inquisition by the end of 1484, and obtaining a bull from Innocent VIII. ordering all Christian princes to restore all fugitive "conversos" to the Inquisition of Spain. One of the reasons for the increased rigor of the Catholic monarchs was the disappearance of the fear of any united action by Jews and Moors, the kingdom of Granada being at its last gasp. Yet these rulers had the duplicity to promise to continue to the Jews of the Moorish kingdom all rights that they then possessed there if they would assist the Spaniards in overthrowing the existing rule. This promise was dated Feb. 11, 1490, only two years before it was publicly repudiated by the decree of expulsion. See FERDINAND AND ISABELLA.
Edict of Expulsion.
Several months after the fall of Granada an edict of expulsion was issued against the Jews of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella (March 31, 1492). It ordered all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age to leave the kingdom by the last day of July, but permitted them to remove their property provided it was not in gold, silver, or money. The reason alleged for this action in the preamble of the edict was the relapse of so many "conversos," owing to the proximity of unconverted Jews who seduced them from Christianity and kept alive in them the knowledge and practises of Judaism. No other motive is assigned, and there is no doubt that the religious motive was the main one. It is claimed that Don Isaac Abravanel, who had previously ransomed 480 Jewish Moriscos of Malaga from the Catholic monarchsby a payment of 20,000 doubloons, now offered them 600,000 crowns for the revocation of the edict. It is said also that Ferdinand hesitated, but was prevented from accepting the offer by Torquemada, the grand inquisitor, who dashed into the royal presence and, throwing a crucifix down before the king and queen, asked whether, like Judas, they would betray their Lord for money. Whatever may be the truth of this story, there were no signs of relaxation shown by the court, and the Jews of Spain made preparations for exile. In some cases, as at Vitoria, they took steps to prevent the desecration of the graves of their kindred by presenting the cemetery to the municipality—a precaution not unjustified, as the Jewish cemetery of Seville was later ravaged by the people. The members of the Jewish community of Segovia passed the last three days of their stay in the city in the Jewish cemetery, fasting and wailing over being parted from their beloved dead.
Number of the Exiles.
The number of those who were thus driven from Spain has been differently estimated by various observers and historians. Mariana, in his history of Spain, claims as many as 800,000. Isidore Loeb, in a special study of the subject in the "Revue des Etudes Juives" (14:162-183), reduces the actual number of emigrants to 165,000. Bernaldez gives details of about 100,000 who went from Spain to Portugal: 3,000 from Benevente to Braganza; 30,000 from Zamora to Miranda; 35,000 from Ciudad Rodrigo to Villar; 15,000 from Miranda de Alcantara to Marbao; and 10,000 from Badajoz to Yelves. According to the same observer, there were altogether 160,000 Jews in Aragon and Castile. Abraham Zacuto reckons those who went to Portugal at 120,000. Lindo asserts that 1,500 families of Jewish Moriscos from the kingdom of Granada were the first to leave the country. It may be of interest to give the following estimates of Loeb's of the numbers of those who were in Spain before the expulsion and of those who emigrated to different parts of the world:
|France and Italy
|Turkey in Europe
|Died on the journey
|Total in Spain in 1492
These estimates must be regarded as a minimum; it is probable that at least 200,000 fled the country, leaving behind them their dead and a large number of relatives who had been forced by circumstances to conceal their religion and to adopt the dominant creed. About 12,000 appear to have entered Navarre, where they were allowed to remain for a short time only. The ports of Cartagena, Valencia, and Barcelona were provided by Ferdinand with ships to take the fugitives where they would; but the Jews often found difficulty in landing, owing to disease breaking out among them while on board ship. Thus at Fez the Moors refused to receive them, and they were obliged to roam in an open plain, where many of them died from hunger; the rest in despair returned to Spain and were baptized. Nine crowded vessels arrived at Naples and communicated pestilence. At Genoa they were only allowed to land provided they received baptism. Those who were fortunate enough to reach Turkey had a better fate, the sultan Salim expressing his gratitude to Ferdinand for sending him some of his best subjects.
The history of the Jews henceforth in Spain is that of the Maranos, whose numbers, as has been shown, had been increased by no less than 50,000 during the period of expulsion. As Spain got possession of the New World, the Maranos attempted to find a refuge from the Inquisition in both the East and the West Indies, where they often came in contact with relatives who had remained true to their faith, or had become reconverted in Holland or elsewhere. These formed business alliances with their relatives remaining in Spain, so that a large portion of the shipping and importing industry of that country fell into the hands of the Maranos and their Jewish relatives elsewhere. The wealth thus acquired was often sequestrated into the coffers of the Inquisition; but this treatment led to reprisals on the part of the Maranos abroad, and there can be no doubt that the decline of Spanish commerce in the seventeenth century was due in large measure to the activities of the Maranos of Holland, Italy, and England, who diverted trade from Spain to those countries. When Spain was at war with any of these countries Jewish intermediation was utilized to obtain knowledge of Spanish naval activity (see INTELLIGENCERS; Maranos).
In this indirect way the Maranos, who had been the occasion of the expulsion, became a Nemesis to the Spanish kingdom. It is, however, incorrect to suppose, as is usually done, that the immediate results of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain were disastrous either to the commerce or to the power of the Iberian kingdom. So far from this being the case, Spain rose to its greatest height immediately after the expulsion of the Jews, the century succeeding that event culminating in the world-power of Philip II., who in 1580 was ruler of the New World, of the Spanish Netherlands, and of Portugal, as well as of Spain. The intellectual loss was perhaps more direct. A large number of Spanish poets and other Jewish writers and thinkers who traced their origin from the exile were lost to Spain, including men like Spinoza, De Silva, Manasseh b. Israel, the Disraelis, and the Montefiores.
When Spain became a republic in 1858, a repeal of the edict of expulsion was secured from General Prim through the influence of H. Guedalla of London, and Jews were permitted to tread once more upon Spanish soil. Very few of them have availed themselves of this privilege, a small congregation at Madrid being the chief sign of renewed life. Even at the present day in Spain Jews are not allowed to have any public building in which to hold their religious services.
- On the general bibliography of the history of the Jews of Spain see Jacobs, Sources of Spanish Jewish History, pp. 213-244.
- There are three general histories: that of Lindo, History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal, London, 1848, founded to some extent on original researches in the archives;
- Amador de los Rios, Historia Social, Politica y Religiosa de los Judios de España y Portugal, Madrid, 1875-1876;
- and M. Kayserling, Die Juden in Navarra, Berlin, 1861, the latter only the beginning of a general treatment which was to have included all the separate states of Spain.
- It is founded mainly on Yanguas, Diccionario, Pamplona, 1842.
- Amador de los Rios' history is based mainly on the chronicles of Ayala and Balaguer and on local histories like those of Ascolono of Valencia, Zuñiga of Seville, Ximena of Jaen, and Landazuri of Vitoria. Much material is contained in the published transactions of the Cortes, as well as in the fueros.
- Fidel Fita, in the Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, 1882-97, has published much from manuscript sources, and some of his writings have been republished under the title Historia Hebrea, Madrid, 1888.
- The Jews of Aragon are best described in Balaguer, Historia de Cataluña.
- Much material exists also in the works of Jewish chroniclers like Joseph Cohen and Solomon ibn Verga, as well as in Usque.
- Ayala, Cronica de D. Enrique III.;
- Zuñiga, Anales Ecclesiasticos de Sevilla (contemporary chronicles);
- Shebeṭ Yehudah, Nos. 27, 48;
- Crescas letter in Appendix to ib., ed. Wiener;
- Estrigo de los Juderias Catalanes en 1391, Relacion Contemporanea, in F. Fita, La España Hebrea, 1:166 et seq.;
- Vicente Boix, Historia de la Ciudad de Valencia, 1:440 et seq.;
- Rios, Hist. 2:355 et seq., 595 et seq.;
- Henry C. Lea, Ferrand Martinez and the Massacres of 1391, in American Hist. Review, 1:215 et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. 8:62 et seq.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Spain'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​s/spain.html. 1901.