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New Medieval Books: Jewish Life in Medieval Spain

Jewish Life in Medieval Spain: A New History

By Jonathan Ray

University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 978-1-512-82383-7

Focusing on mostly the later medieval period, this book examines the Jewish community in Spain, covering a turbulent period that saw much happen within the community as well as in their relations with their Christian and Muslim neighbours.


Perhaps no chapter in the history of the Jewish people has fired the imagination as much as that of the Jews in medieval Spain. from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries, Jewish artisans, merchants, physicians, and Scholars lived throughout the Iberian Peninsula, flourishing under both Muslim and Christian rule. They established a wide array of communities, both large and small, that were among the most culturally vibrant and intellectually prolific in the medieval world. the very name of Jewish Spain, “Sepharad,” conjures up romantic notions of a golden age of Jewish life a world of poets and philosophers, spice merchants and rabbis. The eventual downfall of this fabled Society is also bound up with some of the most dramatic, and infamous, events in Jewish history, such as a rise in the Spanish Inquisition and the final expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. But the cultural triumphs of the Jews of Spain and the collective tragedies that put an end to their world can only be appreciated properly in their social-historical context and as a part of the lived experience of the Jews themselves. Daily life in medieval Spain could, in fact, vary significantly for different sectors of Jewish society. This book tells the story of that society, attempting to recover some of these differences and thereby to enrich our understanding of the Jews of medieval Spain.


Who is this book for?

The last forty years have seen many historians take up efforts to research and explore medieval Spain and its Jewish community, and we have learned much. Their collective work has enabled a book like this to come out, one that offers a wealth of information to those studying Jews in the Middle Ages or Spain in the Middle Ages.

The author

Jonathan Ray is an Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University. His own research focuses on Jewish-Christian relations during the late medieval and early modern periods. You can learn more about Jonathan on his personal website or read some of his articles on his page.


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