The Jews during the middle dark ages



12th-century_painters_-_The_Garden_of_Delights_(detail)_-_WGA15932Place: Spain

Year: 1492

Subject: the exclusion and expulsion of the Jew’s population

Official statement: threatening the Christian society

Real reasons: they posed a threat to the Queen’s stability (Isabella I of Castile and  Ferdinand II of Aragon) ,the masses and the regime

In this second part, we are going to explore the bleak faith of the Jews and how they were treated during the middle ages. Welcome back to the dark mediaeval Europe.

When the new influence took Spain ,or more specifically the Roman Catholic Inquisition,Isabella of Castile and her husband had to rearrange their priorities rightly in order to maintain their stability. So,they took the needed precautions and the mass expulsion of the Jews began. They were expelled from the kingdoms of Castile, Catalonia, Aragon, Galicia, Majorca, Minorca, the Basque provinces, the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, and the kingdom of Valencia. According to one Italian Jew’s account,which was written in 1495, the number of Jews ran from 100,000 to 800,000.They were given three months’ notice ,during that period they were supposed to leave the land in which they live, leaving behind all their possessions,not taking with them gold or silver or any kind of currency. Moreover , they exchanged their houses and possessions for clothes and food instead as they were forbidden since 1480 to carry with them any type of metal.Most of them were artisans, but among them there were many scientific scholars and mathematicians. “Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, etc”. The Spanish Jews who lived in Portugal were put the chains of the slavery again by King John (1481-1495).

Not surprisingly, the ruthless behavior of the king did not know boundaries, with an irony we could say that every king should adhere to his word, so did he. After the period of three mouths elapsed, those who were unlucky to remain in the country were made into slaves. In addition ,the children were sent to Africa,but many died during the voyage or from starvation. In act of desperation,many Jews fled to North Africa, but there they encountered even great tribulations. Many, for instance, died from hunger or thirst, nobody wanted to grant them with warming welcome.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel,indeed. Fortunately enough,the Jews who went to Turkey received a warm welcome eventually. The king of Turkey led them money, gave them a place to settle down and made a disposal of their artisan abilities, as Turkey needed more smiths forging weapons against its war against Christianity. This is a typical example,how one strategic movement with great implications and nourishment will be for great advantage in the future.

Another country in where the Jews experienced some sort of conviviality and compassion was Italy. Despite that fact,they were forced to encounter again the feeling of segregation and isolation from the rest of the society,since in 1500 they were not allowed to the markets. They were not able to exchange any good or to participate in any commercial process. Moreover, they were moved to places called ‘ghetto’ where they were to be a “living example of the guilt of mankind.” In addition, they were forbid from making contact with the Christians and had to wear special dresses in order to distinguished from the other people around.

Another part of the society, which pulled though similar difficulties and atrocities during the middle ages was the Witches. But more about them next time…


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