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

By Jonathan Ray

No topic looms higher over the historic panorama of medieval Spain than that of the reconquista, the fast enlargement of the ability of the Christian kingdoms into the Muslim-populated lands of southern Iberia, which created a wide frontier region that for 2 centuries remained a sector of war and peril. Drawing on a wide fund of unpublished fabric in royal, ecclesiastical, and municipal files in addition to rabbinic literature, Jonathan Ray unearths a fluid, frequently unstable society that transcended spiritual barriers and attracted Jewish colonists from during the peninsula and beyond.

The consequence 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 conventional historiography, which holds that Sephardic groups, already totally constructed, have been easily reestablished at the frontier. within the early years of payment, Iberia's crusader kings actively supported Jewish fiscal and political task, and Jewish interplay with their Christian associates was once extensive.

Only because the frontier was once 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 means of the top of the 13th century, royal intervention had began to limit the volume of touch among Jewish and Christian groups, signaling the tip of the open society that had marked the frontier for many of the century.

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82; and the responsum from Rabbi Solomon ibn Adret, Responsa, section 5, no. 240 (hereafter referred to as Adret, followed by the vol. and no. of the responsum). The tensions between courtiers and local Jewish officials is discussed below, chap. 5. 15 Justo García Soriano, “La Reconquista de Orihuela, Su leyenda y su historia,” Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 104 (1934): 217. Though listed among the ‘defenders’ of the castle, there is no evidence that Avendino was anything more than a royal functionary who found himself besieged along with the rest of the castle’s inhabitants.

42 A guarantee of safe passage was often all that was needed by Jewish settlers who were drawn by the opportunity to establish businesses and trade routes in a new town or region. For others, the challenge and risks of starting life anew in an unknown region required more substantial incentives. Such inducement routinely took the form of an exemption from royal taxes for a determined period. Indeed, after the initial land partitions of the new territories, the primary incentive employed by the royal courts to attract new Jewish settlers to the towns of the frontier was tax relief.

Robert I. Burns, “The Guidaticum: Safe-Conduct in Medieval Arago-Catalonia,” Medieval Encounters 1 (1995): 81. For Salamon Benammar, see Jaime Villanueva, Viatge Literario a las Iglesias de España (Madrid, 1852), 22: 327–328. See also Régné, nos. 443, 691. [ 30 ] Part I. The Jewish Settler and the Frontier lar grants were to be made for three other Jews from Trebalos: the alfaquim Isaac Jucef Benbolfarag, Ismael Bonhazan Aliepdoni, and Isaac Abenjucef Annafusi. Once Hayon had made contact with the Aragonese crown, most likely through Jews at court, he then seems to have been able to obtain matching grants for his three companions.

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