Discrimination Against the Jewish Population in Medieval Castile and León
Rita Ríos de la Llave
Religion and power in Europe : Conflict and Convergence, Pisa University Press (2007)
The quest for the Jewish and Islamic legacy in the Hispanic cultural tradition has given rise to a historiography more interested in the positive than the negative issues related to the relationships between Christians, Jews and Muslims in the different kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. This has promoted the development of an idealised image and the arbitrary use of the word ‘convivencia’, and the concept of tolerance, the present meanings of which cannot be applied to that epoch.
In this contribution, I have orientated my study towards two of the Hispanic kingdoms, Castile and León, united in 1230. I have tried to show the degree of discrimination suffered by the Jewish community in these two kingdoms in the Middle Ages through a deep analysis of the legal sources, lay as much as ecclesiastical, and also through documentary collections reflecting their practical application. It can be seen in matters of practice such as religion, marriage and sexual relationships, clothes and bathing, feeding and nourishment, housing, employment, lawsuits and transfer of heritage.
Discriminatory measures promoted the separation of the different religious communities, cut out Jewish power and influence, and prevented the integration of the Jews into the society of Castile and León. This reality is far from that idealised image of the relationships between Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula during Middle Ages.