The Sephardic Frontier: The Reconquista and the Jewish by Jonathan Ray

By Jonathan Ray

No topic looms better over the ancient panorama of medieval Spain than that of the reconquista, the quick enlargement of the ability of the Christian kingdoms into the Muslim-populated lands of southern Iberia, which created a extensive frontier quarter that for 2 centuries remained a zone of battle and peril. Drawing on a wide fund of unpublished fabric in royal, ecclesiastical, and municipal records in addition to rabbinic literature, Jonathan Ray unearths a fluid, frequently unstable society that transcended non secular obstacles and attracted Jewish colonists from during the peninsula and beyond.

The end result was once a wave of Jewish settlements marked by means of a excessive measure of openness, mobility, and interplay with either Christians and Muslims. Ray's view demanding situations the normal historiography, which holds that Sephardic groups, already totally built, have been easily reestablished at the frontier. within the early years of payment, Iberia's crusader kings actively supported Jewish monetary and political job, and Jewish interplay with their Christian acquaintances was once extensive.

Only because the frontier used to be firmly integrated into the political lifetime of the peninsular states did those frontier Sephardic populations start to forge the communal buildings that resembled the older Jewish groups of the North and the internal. by way of the tip of the 13th century, royal intervention had all started to limit the volume of touch among Jewish and Christian groups, signaling the top of the open society that had marked the frontier for many of the century.

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Extra info for The Sephardic Frontier: The Reconquista and the Jewish Community in Medieval Iberia

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36 The freedom of travel encouraged Jews to settle throughout the massive frontier that cut across the various peninsular states, and to migrate within this region as well. The conquest of Murcia drew Jewish settlers from Castile to the southwest corner of the peninsula, from where they entered into the neighboring lands controlled by the Crown of Aragon. The names of Jewish settlers arriving in the kingdom of Valencia in the decades following its conquest attest to the continuous migration of Jews from the northern cities of the Catalonia and Aragon.

Yet in the process of transition to Christian rule, these Jews often suffered the same fate as those Muslims who remained behind, enduring dislocation and loss of property at the hands of Jewish and Christian settlers alike. 19 In addition to these instances of former Jewish property being reallocated for Christian settlers, the native Jewries of these frontier settlements also lost land to other Jews who arrived with the Christian conquerors, or soon thereafter. In the first partition of Valencia, in 1238, the Jewish colonist Cresches of Belcyare was granted the houses formerly belonging to a local Jew, Farayx Abunçeyd.

Maria José Azevedo Santos, Vida e Morte de um Mosteiro cisterciense. S. Paulo de Almaziva (Lisbon, 1998), nos. 85 and 87. See also the record of a landsale by the a certain Benjamin Coimbrão near Leiria from 1312. Maria José Pimenta Ferro, Os Judeus em Portugal no século XIV (Lisbon, 1970), 144, 356. ” ANTT, Corp. Rel. Chelas, m. 8, no. 142; Chancel. de D. Dinis, liv. 2, fol. 85v; and Gérard Pradalié, Lisboa da Reconquista ao fim do século XIII (Lisbon, 1975), 79. 50 Baer’s comments regarding the thirteenth-century frontier reflect his interest in the cultural and intellectual development of Iberian Jewry, and underestimate Jewish settlement in these regions in the years following their conquest.

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