By Jessica F. Bedol
PhD Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 2011
Introduction: Prior to the Expulsion in 1492, Jews had endured centuries of persecution by the Christian rulers of Spain. While the rule of Alfonso X of Castile (r. 1252-1284) is now considered to be tolerant in its treatment of Jews, his inclusion of Title XXIV in the Siete Partidas and the nearly thirty stereotypical portrayals of Jews in the Cantigas de Santa Maria are testaments to the prevalence of anti-Judaism in his kingdom. During the fourteenth century, waves of persecution and mass conversions prompted the first Jewish emigrations and resulted in the growth of a new social group within the Spanish kingdoms: the conversos. The conversos were Jews who converted—willingly or unwillingly—to Christianity, many of whom worked desperately to conceal their Jewish cultural heritage. The fifteenth century saw three occasions that greatly impacted Jews in Spanish society: the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella (m. 1474), which resulted in the unification of the Aragonese and Castilian kingdoms; the Inquisition, which was officially instituted in 1478, with the intent of identifying and punishing false conversos; and the Jewish Expulsion in July 1492, prompted both by the trials of the inquisitors and the Moorish Expulsion from Granada earlier that year.
In this thesis, the prevalence of anti-Judaism in the music of Christian Spain from the thirteenth to the end of the fifteenth century is explored. The effect that anti-Jewish sentiments had on musical compositions and performances during these times and the role the music played in transmitting stereotypes of Jews between the Castilian, Aragonese, and Neapolitan kingdoms are also examined. As an interdisciplinary study, this work includes a consideration of the political consequences of anti-Judaism, an analysis of medieval Spanish literature and iconography, and a discussion of the musical traditions and performance practices in medieval Spanish courts. In order to preserve the scope of the research, this thesis is limited specifically to Judeo-Christian relations within the Castilian and Aragonese kingdoms.