April 13, 2008
World Cultures CAS
The Expulsion of Jews from Spain
The Jewish Expulsion put an end to one of the most notable and largest settlements in Europe. The main leader behind this dreadful era was Tomas de Torquemada. The King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella appointed Torquemada Inquisitor General in 1483. I believe that if Torquemada hadn’t become such good friends with the King and Queen and was not as influencing, as he became to be during the expulsion, then he would not have been appointed Inquisitor General and the Spanish Inquisition would not of happened.
Before Torquemada came around, kings Fernando I, Fernando II, Alonso VII and Alonso VIII trusted and got along with the Jews. So much so that they gave the Jews all the same privileges as the Christians. At one point the Jews even had more privileges then the Christians did(, A History of the Jewish People).
The turning point came when Ferdinand III and James I were in power. They began immediately to limit is the Jews privileges. They were forced to wear yellow badges on their clothing to keep them from interacting with the Christians. If they did not wear their yellow badge then they would be fined 10 maravedis (gold or silver coins). They were also not allowed to live under the same roof, eat or drink with them, or use the same bath. It also went as far as Christians were not allowed to drink wine that was made by a Jew and only use medical remedies made by a Christians. Jews were prohibited to appear in public on Good Friday. Although the Jews had limiting privileges they were the ones with the best jobs and most income. They did need the good jobs though, to pay the high taxes and to raise the compulsory loans issued by the king. The Jews had a lot of high status jobs. Some were even aids to the king. The Jewish community even had their own separate political body (Netanyahu, B. The Orgins of the Inquisitionv).
Pedro I favored immensely the Jewish population. His army, court, and servants all consisted of Jews. Although Pedro I protected the Jews, or at least tried to, they still suffered greatly. Many Jewish invested towns were totally destroyed. Torahs were torn to pieces, Jews were always being robbed and 300 Jewish families were taken prisoners to Granada. Pedro I was beheaded by his Henry and Bertrand Du Guesclin on March 14, 1369.
When Henry came to the throne as Henry II, there began an era of suffering and persecution leading to their expulsion. The Jews had officially been reduced to poverty. Despite his hatred for the Jews, Henry still employed Jews, as he could not go with out their services. He had wealthy Jews as his chief tax collectors and financial councilors. The Christians believed they should not be allowed to have such high placing jobs. They asked that Jews should be kept away from palaces, should not be allowed to hold public offices, live apart from the Christians, should not wear expensive garments or ride mules, always wear the yellow badge and not be allowed to have Christian names. The king only granted the last two requests (The History of Jews: Down From the Earliest Time Period to Modern Times..
In the Cortes of Soria (1380) it was said that rabbis should be forbidden. The penalty was from 6,000 maravedis to death, mutilation, expulsion, or excommunication. The kind ordered that offensive passages should be removed from the Torah or their prayer- books. And who ever did circumcision upon someone else, or helped convert a moor automatically became a slave and the property of the treasury. Jews never dared to go out in public without a badge for the consequences were far too great (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Spain#Anti-Jewish_enactments). They were mugged and murdered on public streets. For this reason the king finally decided that it was necessary that if a Jew was found murdered in a town that it was fined 6,000 maravedis....