Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain

Haim Beinart
Translated from Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2002

'Magisterial . . . provides insights, descriptions, and interpretations built on an impregnable base of scholarship . . This sine qua non for any study and understanding of the vents leading up to 1492 deserves an honoured place in all serious libraries.'
Stephen D. Benin, Choice

Beinart's detailed magnum opus focuses on the practicalities of the expulsion and its consequences, both for those expelled and those remaining behind. Analysis of hundreds of archival documents enables him to take history out of the realm of abstraction and give it concrete reality, and in so doing he also sheds much light on Jewish life in Spain before the expulsion.

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Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2002

'Magisterial . . . provides insights, descriptions, and interpretations built on an impregnable base of scholarship . . This sine qua non for any study and understanding of the vents leading up to 1492 deserves an honoured place in all serious libraries.'
Stephen D. Benin, Choice

'The most comprehensive study of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. It summarizes and synthesizes the author¹s decades-long work in Spanish archives . . . indispensable for the study of Spanish Jewry.'
Morris M. Faierstein, Religious Studies Review

The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain is a detailed study of the events surrounding this infamous chapter in Spanish history. Based on hundreds of documents discovered, deciphered, and analysed during decades of intensive archival research, this work focuses on the practical consequences of the expulsion both for those expelled and those remaining behind. It responds to basic questions such as: What became of property owned by Jewish individuals and communities? What became of outstanding debts between Jews and Christians? How was the Edict of Expulsion implemented? What happened to those who converted to Christianity in order to remain in Spain or return to that country?

The material summarized and analysed in this study also sheds light on Jewish life in Spain preceding the expulsion. For example, Jews are shown to have been present in remote villages where they were not hitherto known to have lived, and documents detailing lawsuits between Christians related to debts left behind by Jews reveal much about business and financial relations between Jews and Christians.

By focusing on the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in such detail—for example, by naming the magistrates who presided over the confiscation of Jewish communal property—Professor Beinart takes history out of the realm of abstraction and places it in the realm of concrete reality, reminding us that events were driven by decisions made by real people, and that real people were affected by these events.

From reviews of the Hebrew edition:
'The importance of this new book lies in its methodical and detailed portrayal of the expulsion from Spain in 1492 in all its aspects-political, social, economic, legal, and also human. It presents wide-ranging descriptions of the problems and the dilemmas facing families and individuals in both large and small communities . . . and of how events actually unfolded, day by day and hour by hour. The thoroughness of the presentation, documented in every detail, is the product of decades of methodical and comprehensive historiographic research covering all the areas in which Jews lived in the entire period over which the expulsion took place . . . Beinart's historiographic reconstruction gives the contemporary reader a palpable understanding of what actually happened.'
Ben-Ami Feingold, Yediot Aharonot

 

About the author

Haim Beinart is an emeritus professor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has more than three hundred publications to his credit, almost all of them dealing with the history of the Jews in Spain in the Middle Ages and their subsequent expulsion. He was elected to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 1981 and has received many other prizes and honours for his scholarly work, including the Ruppin Prize (1966), the Isaac Ben-Zvi Award (1976), the Wiznitzer Prize for the best book published in Jewish History (1981), and the Tri-Cultural Prize of the University of Cordova (1981). In 1989 he became a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Complutense University of Madrid and in 1992 a Dr. Lit. of the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He has held visiting professorships in Berne, London, Lucerne, and Princeton, and a visiting fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford.

Publication details

Format 23.5 x 15.5 cm / 6" x 9";
Pages 612 pages, 1 map, 2 charts, 2 facsimiles, 4 tables
ISBN 978-1-874774-41-9 (hardback - OUT OF PRINT)
978-1-904113-28-7 paperback
Price £29.95 / $45.00 paperback
Date of publication hardback: 2001
paperback: 30 June 2005

Contents

List of tables
List of illustrations
Abbreviations

  1. Introduction: Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain
    The Situation of Spanish Jewry • Forced Segregation • The Inquisition • Financing the Reconquista • Propaganda against Jews and Conversos • The Fall of Granada
  2. The Edict of Expulsion
    Promulgation • Analysis of the Structure • Drafting • The Views of the Catholics Monarchs • Text and Translation of the Edict of Expulsion
  3. The Fate of Jewish Communal Property
    Land and Buildings • Loans • Synagogues, Houses of Study, and Ritual Baths • Abattoirs and Baking Ovens • Cemeteries
  4. Jewish-Christian Credit and its Liquidation
    The Kingdom of Castile: Attempts to Settle Accounts before Departure • Public Debts to Jews • Private Debts of Christians to Jews • Collection of Christians’ Debts to Jews after the Expulsion • Debts of Jews to Christians and the Payment of these Debts • The Kingdom of Aragon
  5. Implementation of the Edict of Expulsion
    The Road to Implementation • Organizing the Departure: The Role of the Genoese • Implementation of the edict in the Kingdom of Aragon: Departure by Land; Departure by Sea • Implementation of the Edict in the Kingdom of Castile: Conversion instead of Exile or Prison; Tribulations of Departure; Exploitation on the Border: Ciudad Rodrigo; The Passage from Castile into Portugal; Departure by Sea • Implementation of the Edict in Sardinia and Sicily • Navarre: Asylum and Expulsion • The Number of Jews Expelled
  6. Smuggling
  7. Return and Conversion
    Return and Conversion among Jews of Castile • Return and Conversion among Jews of Aragon
  8. The Senior Dynasty
    The Origins of the Family and its First Steps in Government • The Case of Juan de Talavera • Abraham Senior’s Public Service before Conversion • Abraham Senior’s Property • Abraham Senior as Tax-Farmer and Tax-Collector • Abraham Senior as Chairman of the Hermandad • Expulsion and Conversion • Fernán Núñez Coronel's General Financial Activity • Rabbi Meir Melamed and his Sons • Solomon Senior, the Sons of Abraham Senior, and Other Family Members
  9. The House of Abravanel (1483-1492)
  10. Contemporaries Describe the Expulsion

Appendix: Other Activities of Some Royal Officials
Bibliography
Index of People
Index of Places
General Index

 

Reviews

English Edition:

'Haim Beinart justifiably has been hailed as the foremost historian of medieval Sepharad . . . the data uncovered [here] will remain a source for many future generations of historians of the Jews of medieval Iberia. For that alone, we are indebted to this monumental contribution.'
Benjamin R. Gampel, AJS Review

'This magisterial study . . . provides insights, descriptions, and interpretations built on an impregnable base of scholarship . . . Beinart also sheds light on the Jews of Spain before the expulsion and discusses the issue of conversion among the Jews of Aragon and Castile . . . This sine qua non for any study and understanding of the events leading up to 1492 deserves an honoured place in all serious libraries.'
Stephen D. Benin, Choice

'The most comprehensive study of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. It summarizes and synthesizes the author¹s decades-long work in Spanish archives . . . indispensable for the study of Spanish Jewry and is a valuable addition to any university library.'
Morris M. Faierstein, Religious Studies Review

'An in-depth analysis of one of the most dramatic events in the history of the Jews . . . an extremely useful repository of detailed information that can be found nowhere else in English.'
Yvonne Petry, Renaissance Studies

Hebrew Edition:

'The importance of this new book lies in its methodical and detailed portrayal of the expulsion from Spain in 1492 in all its aspects—political, social, economic, legal, and also human. It presents wide-ranging descriptions of the problems and the dilemmas facing families and individuals in both large and small communities . . . and of how events actually unfolded, day by day and hour by hour. The thoroughness of the presentation, documented in every detail, is the product of decades of methodical and comprehensive historiographic research covering all the areas in which Jews lived in the entire period over which the expulsion took place . . . Beinart's historiographic reconstruction gives the contemporary reader a palpable understanding of what actually happened.'
Ben-Ami Feingold, Yediot Aharonot

 

Prizes

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2002