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A signed copy of the Edict of Expulsion

The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.

The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968,[1] following the Second Vatican Council. Today, the number of Jews in Spain is estimated at 50,000[2].



Beginning in the 8th century, Muslims had occupied and settled most of the Iberian Peninsula. Jews who had lived in these regions since Roman times, considered 'People of the Book' (dhimmis), were given special status, and thus thrived under Muslim rule, although persecutions were not unknown, such as the pogroms in Cordoba (1011) and Granada (1066). The Jews supported and sometimes even assisted the Muslim invaders due to the harsh treatment of the Jews by the Visigothic rulers of the Iberian Peninsula[citation needed]. The tolerance of the Muslim rulers attracted Jewish immigration, and Jewish enclaves in Muslim Iberian cities flourished as places of learning and commerce. Progressively, however, living conditions for Jews in Al-Andalus became harsher, especially after the fall of the Omayyad Caliphate.

The Reconquista was the gradual reconquest of Muslim Iberia by the Christian kingdoms and had a powerful religious flavor: Iberia was being reclaimed for Christendom. By the 14th century, almost all of Spain and Portugal had been taken back from the Moors.

Overt hostility against Jews became more pronounced , finding expression in brutal episodes of violence and oppression. Thousands of Jews sought to escape these attacks by converting to Catholicism; they were commonly called conversos or New Christians. At first these conversions seemed an effective solution to the cultural conflict: many converso families met with social and commercial success. But eventually their success made these New Christians unpopular with the church and royal hierarchies.

Many of the ruling Spanish, both secular and religious, viewed Jews with deep suspicion. The Jews were also seen as being collaborators with the Muslims[citation needed].

These suspicions on the part of Christians were only heightened by the fact that some of the coerced conversions were undoubtedly insincere. Some, but not all, conversos had understandably chosen to salvage their social and commercial prestige by the only option open to them - baptism and embrace of Christianity - while privately adhering to their Jewish practice and faith. These secret practitioners are commonly referred to as crypto-Jews or marranos.

The existence of crypto-Jews was an irresistible provocation for secular and church leaders who were already hostile toward Spain's Jewry. The uncertainty over the sincerity of Jewish converts added explosive fuel to the fire of anti-semitism in 15th-century Spain.

Ferdinand and Isabella

The hostility toward Jews was brought to a climax by "The Catholic Monarchs" - Ferdinand and Isabella, whose marriage in 1469 led ten years later to the union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile - two of the three consolidated kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula. The eventual result, under their great-grandson, Philip II, was the unification of all Iberia into one Kingdom of Spain, the precursor of the modern state now known as Spain.

Ferdinand and Isabella took seriously the reports that some crypto-Jews were not only privately practicing their former faith, but were secretly trying to draw other conversos back into the Jewish fold. In 1480, the king and queen created the Spanish Inquisition to investigate these suspicions; under the authority of this new institution, thousands of converted Jews were killed within 12 years. It is not known how many, if any, had lapsed from their new Christianity, or were trying to convince others to do the same.

In 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquista by forcing the surrender of the Muslim kingdom of Granada (Granada had in fact been a vassal state to Spanish royals for more than two centuries). The surrender of the city of Granada placed yet another large Islamic population under their rule, and Ferdinand and Isabella decided to act.

The Edict

The king and queen issued the Alhambra decree less than three months after the surrender of Granada. In it, Jews were accused of trying "to subvert their holy Catholic faith and trying to draw faithful Christians away from their beliefs."

Some Jews were even only given four months and ordered to convert to Christianity or leave the country. Under the edict, Jews were promised royal "protection and security" for the effective three-month window before the deadline. They were permitted to take their belongings with them - except "gold or silver or minted money".

The punishment for any Jew who did not convert or leave by the deadline was death. The punishment for a non-Jew who sheltered or hid Jews was the confiscation of all belongings and hereditary privileges.


The Spanish Jews who chose to leave Spain dispersed throughout the region of North Africa known as the Maghreb. They also fled to south-eastern Europe where they were granted safety and formed flourishing local Jewish communities, the largest being those of Thessaloniki and Sarajevo. In those regions, they often intermingled with the already existing Mizrachi (Eastern Jewish) communities.

Scholars disagree about how many Jews left Spain as a result of the decree; the numbers vary between 130,000 and 800,000. Many (likely more than half) went to Portugal, where they only eluded persecution for a few years (see Portuguese Inquisition). The Jewish community in Portugal (perhaps then some 10% of that country's population[citation needed]) were then declared Christians by Royal decree unless they left, but since their departure was severely hindered by the King (who needed their expertise for Portugal's overseas enterprises), the vast majority was forced to stay as nominal Christians.


Other Spanish Jews (estimates range between 50,000 and 70,000) chose to avoid expulsion by conversion to Christianity. However, their conversion did not protect them from church hostility after the Spanish Inquisition came into full effect; persecution and expulsion were common. However, recent Y chromosome DNA testing conducted by the University of Leicester and the Pompeu Fabra University has indicated that around 20% of Spanish men today have direct patrilineal descent from Sephardic Jews. The result is in contradiction [3][4][5][6][7] or not replicated in all the body of genetic studies done in Iberia and conflicts with mainstream historiography (denies Neolithic, Roman, Greek, Phoenician, Germanic, Alani, Slavic, Arab and other contributions to modern Iberians) and has been questioned by the authors themselves [8][9][10][11] and by Stephen Oppenheimer[12].

Many of these "New Christians" were eventually forced to either leave the countries or intermarry with the local populace by the dual Inquisitions of Portugal and Spain. Many settled in North Africa or elsewhere in Europe, most notably in the Netherlands and England (see Sephardic Jews in the Netherlands, History of the Marranos in England).

Don Isaac Abravanel and the Alhambra decree

Legend does claim that Don Isaac Abravanel, who had previously ransomed 480 Jewish converts of Malaga from the Catholic monarchs by a payment of 20,000 doubloons, now offered them 600,000 ducats for the revocation of the edict. It is said also that Ferdinand hesitated, but was prevented from accepting the offer by Torquemada, the grand inquisitor, who dashed into the royal presence and, throwing a crucifix down before the king and queen, asked whether, like Judas, they would betray their Lord for money.

The 1988 novel The Alhambra Decree by David Raphael contains a fictionalized response to the Alhambra decree attributed to Rabbi Don Isaac Abrabanel. It is commonly (and mistakenly) cited as genuine.[13]

See also


  1. ^ 1492 Ban on Jews Is Voided by Spain - THe New York Times, 17 Dec 1968
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Despite alternative possible sources for lineages ascribed a Sephardic Jewish origin", [1]
  9. ^ "La cifra de los sefardíes puede estar sobreestimada, ya que en estos genes hay mucha diversidad y quizá absorbieron otros genes de Oriente Medio" ("The Sephardic result may be overestimated, since there is much diversity in those genes and maybe absorbed other genes from the Middle East"). ¿Pone en duda Calafell la validez de los tests de ancestros? “Están bien para los americanos, nosotros ya sabemos de dónde venimos” (Puts Calafell in doubt the validity of ancestry tests? "They can be good for the Americans, we already know from where we come from). " [2]
  10. ^We think it might be an over estimate" "The genetic makeup of Sephardic Jews is probably common to other Middle Eastern populations, such as the Phoenicians, that also settled the Iberian Peninsula, Calafell says. “In our study, that would have all fallen under the Jewish label.””,_Jewish_genes
  11. ^ "El doctor Calafell matiza que (...) los marcadores genéticos usados para distinguir a la población con ancestros sefardíes pueden producir distorsiones". "ese 20% de españoles que el estudio señala como descendientes de sefardíes podrían haber heredado ese rasgo de movimiento más antiguos, como el de los fenicios o, incluso, primeros pobladores neolíticos hace miles de años." "Dr. Calafell clarifies that (...) the genetic markers used to distinguish the population with Sephardim ancestry may produce distorsions. The 20% of Spaniards that are identified as having Sephardim ancestry in the study could have inherited that same marker from older movements like the Phoenicians, or even the first Neolithic settlers thousands of years ago"
  12. ^
  13. ^ The Edict of Expulsion of the Jews - 1492 Spain

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Alhambra Decree
the Catholic Monarchs
The Alhambra Decree was issued on March 31, 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, married in 1469), following the final triumph over the Moors after the fall of Granada. The decree ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Spain and its territories and possessions by July 31 1492.
Excerpted from Alhambra decree on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Original text

Los Reyes Fernando e Isabel, por la gracia de Dios, Reyes de Castilla, León, Aragón y otros dominios de la corona- al príncipe Juan, los duques, marqueses, condes, ordenes religiosas y sus Maestres,... señores de los Castillos, caballeros y a todos los judíos hombres y mujeres de cualquier edad y a quienquiera esta carta le concierna, salud y gracia para él.
Bien es sabido que en nuestros dominios, existen algunos malos cristianos que han judaizado y han cometido apostasía contra la santa fe Católica, siendo causa la mayoría por las relaciones entre judíos y cristianos. Por lo tanto, en el año de 1480, ordenamos que los judíos fueran separados de las ciudades y provincias de nuestros dominios y que les fueran adjudicados sectores separados, esperando que con esta separación la situación existente sería remediada, y nosotros ordenamos que se estableciera la Inquisición en estos dominios; y en el término de 12 años ha funcionado y la Inquisición ha encontrado muchas personas culpables además, estamos informados por la Inquisición y otros el gran daño que persiste a los cristianos al relacionarse con los judíos, y a su vez estos judíos tratan de todas maneras a subvertir la Santa Fe Católica y están tratando de obstaculizar cristianos creyentes de acercarse a sus creencias.
Estos Judíos han instruido a esos cristianos en las ceremonias y creencias de sus leyes, circuncidando a sus hijos y dándoles libros para sus rezos, y declarando a ellos los días de ayuno, y reuniéndoles para enseñarles las historias de sus leyes, informándoles cuando son las festividades de Pascua y como seguirla, dándoles el pan sin levadura y las carnes preparadas ceremonialmente, y dando instrucción de las cosas que deben abstenerse con relación a alimentos y otras cosas requiriendo el seguimiento de las leyes de Moisés, haciéndoles saber a pleno conocimiento que no existe otra ley o verdad fuera de esta. Y así lo hace claro basados en sus confesiones de estos judíos lo mismo a los cuales han pervertido que ha sido resultado en un gran daño y detrimento a la santa fe Católica, y como nosotros conocíamos el verdadero remedio de estos daños y las dificultades yacían en el interferir de toda comunicación entre los mencionados Judíos y los Cristianos y enviándolos fuera de todos nuestros dominios, nosotros nos contentamos en ordenar si ya dichos Judíos de todas las ciudades y villas y lugares de Andalucía donde aparentemente ellos habían efectuado el mayor daño, y creyendo que esto seria suficiente de modo que en esos y otras ciudades y villas y lugares en nuestros reinos y nuestras posesiones seria efectivo y cesarían a cometer lo mencionado. Y porque hemos sido informados que nada de esto, ni es el caso ni las justicias hechas para algunos de los mencionados judíos encontrándolos muy culpables por lo por los susodichos crímenes y transgresiones contra la santa fe Católica han sido un remedio completo obviar y corregir estos delitos y ofensas. Y a la fe Cristiana y religión cada día parece que los Judíos incrementan en continuar su maldad y daño objetivo a donde residan y conversen; y porque no existe lugar donde ofender de mas a nuestra santa creencia, como a los cuales Dios ha protegido hasta el día de hoy y a aquellos que han sido influenciados, deber de la Santa Madre Iglesia reparar y reducir esta situación al estado anterior, debido a lo frágil del ser humano, pudiese ocurrir que podemos sucumbir a la diabólica tentación que continuamente combate contra nosotros, de modo que, si siendo la causa principal los llamados judíos si no son convertidos deberán ser expulsados del Reino.
Debido a que cuando un crimen detestable y poderoso es cometido por algunos miembros de algún grupo es razonable el grupo debe ser absuelto o aniquilado y los menores por los mayores serán castigados uno por el otro y aquellos que permiten a los buenos y honestos en las ciudades y en las villas y por su contacto puedan perjudicar a otros deberán ser expulsados del grupo de gentes y a pesar de menores razones serán perjudiciales a la República y los mas por la mayoría de sus crímenes seria peligroso y contagioso de modo que el Consejo de hombres eminentes y caballeros de nuestro reinado y de otras personas de conciencia y conocimiento de nuestro supremo concejo y después de muchísima deliberación se acordó en dictar que todos los Judíos y Judías deben abandonar nuestros reinados y que no sea permitido nunca regresar.
Nosotros ordenamos además en este edicto que los Judíos y Judías cualquiera edad que residan en nuestros dominios o territorios que partan con sus hijos e hijas, sirvientes y familiares pequeños o grandes de todas las edades al fin de Julio de este año y que no se atrevan a regresar a nuestras tierras y que no tomen un paso adelante a traspasar de la manera que si algún Judío que no acepte este edicto si acaso es encontrado en estos dominios o regresa será culpado a muerte y confiscación de sus bienes.
Y hemos ordenado que ninguna persona en nuestro reinado sin importar su estado social incluyendo nobles que escondan o guarden o defiendan a un Judío o Judía ya sea públicamente o secretamente desde fines de Julio y meses subsiguientes en sus hogares o en otro sitio en nuestra región con riesgos de perder como castigo todos sus feudos y fortificaciones, privilegios y bienes hereditarios.
Hágase que los Judíos puedan deshacerse de sus hogares y todas sus pertenencias en el plazo estipulado por lo tanto nosotros proveemos nuestro compromiso de la protección y la seguridad de modo que al final del mes de Julio ellos puedan vender e intercambiar sus propiedades y muebles y cualquier otro articulo y disponer de ellos libremente a su criterio que durante este plazo nadie debe hacerles ningún daño, herirlos o injusticias a estas personas o a sus bienes lo cual seria injustificado y el que transgrediese esto incurrirá en el castigo los que violen nuestra seguridad Real.
Damos y otorgamos permiso a los anteriormente referidos Judíos y Judías a llevar consigo fuera de nuestras regiones sus bienes y pertenencias por mar o por tierra exceptuando oro y plata, o moneda acuñada u otro articulo prohibido por las leyes del reinado.
De modo que ordenamos a todos los concejales, magistrados, caballeros, guardias, oficiales, buenos hombres de la ciudad de Burgos y otras ciudades y villas de nuestro reino y dominios, y a todos nuestros vasallos y personas, que respeten y obedezcan con esta carta y con todo lo que contiene en ella, y que den la clase de asistencia y ayuda necesaria para su ejecución, sujeta a castigo por nuestra gracia soberana y por la confiscación de todos los bienes y propiedades para nuestra casa real y que esta sea notificada a todos y que ninguno pretenda ignorarla, ordenamos que este edicto sea proclamado en todas las plazas y los sitios de reunión de todas las ciudades y en las ciudades principales y villas de las diócesis, y sea hecho por el heraldo en presencia del escribano público, y que ninguno o nadie haga lo contrario de lo que ha sido definido, sujeto al castigo de nuestra gracia soberana y la anulación de sus cargos y confiscación de sus bienes al que haga lo contrario.
Y ordenamos que se evidencie y pruebe a la corte con un testimonio firmado especificando la manera en que el edicto fue llevado a cabo.
Dado en esta ciudad de Granada el Treinta y uno día de marzo del año de nuestro señor Jesucristo de 1492.
Firmado Yo, el Rey, Yo la Reina, y Juan de Coloma secretario del Rey y la Reina quien lo ha escrito por orden de sus Majestades.

English translation

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Castile, León, Aragon and other dominions of the crown - to the prince Juan, to dukes, marquees, counts, the holy orders, priors, knight commanders, lords of the castles, cavaliers, and to all Jews, men and women of whatever age, and to anyone else this letter may concern - health and grace unto you.
You well know that in our dominion, there are certain bad Christians that judaised and committed apostasy against our Holy Catholic faith, much of it the cause of communications between Jews and Christians. Therefore, in the year 1480, we ordered that the Jews be separated from the cities and towns of our domains and that they be given separate quarters, hoping that by such separation the situation would be remedied. And we ordered that and an Inquisition be established in such domains; and in twelve years it has functioned, the Inquisition has found many guilty persons. Furthermore, we are informed by the Inquisition and others that the great harm done to the Christians persists, and it continues because of the conversations and communications that they have with the Jews, such Jews trying by whatever manner to subvert our holy Catholic faith and trying to draw faithful Christians away from their beliefs.
These Jews instruct these Christians in the ceremonies and observances of their Law, circumcising their children, and giving them books with which to pray, and declaring unto them the days of fasting, and meeting with them to teach them the histories of their Law, notifying them when to expect Passover and how to observe it, giving them the unleavened bread and ceremonially prepared meats, and instructing them in things from which they should abstain, both with regard to food items and other things requiring observances of their Law of Moses, making them understand that there is no other law or truth besides it. All of which then is clear that, on the basis of confessions from such Jews as well as those perverted by them, that it has resulted in great damage and detriment of our holy Catholic faith.
And because we knew that the true remedy of such damages and difficulties lay in the severing of all communications between the said Jews with the Christians and in sending them forth from all our reigns, we sought to content ourselves with ordering the said Jews from all the cities and villages and places of Andalusia where it appeared that they had done major damage, believing that this would suffice so that those from other cities and villages and places in our reigns and holdings would cease to commit the aforesaid. And because we have been informed that neither this, nor the justices done for some of the said Jews found very culpable in the said crimes and transgressions against our holy Catholic faith, has been a complete remedy to obviate and to correct such opprobrium and offense to the Christian faith and religion; because every day it appears that the said Jews increase in continuing their evil and harmful purposes wherever they reside and converse; and because there is no place left whereby to more offend our holy faith, as much as those which God has protected to this day as in those already affected, it is left for this Holy Mother Church to mend and reduce the matter to its previous state inasmuch as, because of our frailty of humanity, it could occur that we could succumb to the diabolical temptation that continually wars against us so easily if its principal cause were not removed, which would be to expel the said Jews from the kingdom. Because whenever a grave and detestable crime is committed by some members of a given group, it is reasonable that the group be dissolved or annihilated, the minors for the majors being punished one for the other; and that those who pervert the good and honest living on the cities and villages and who by their contagion could harm others, be expelled from the midst the people, still yet for other minor causes, that would be of harm to the Republic, and all the more so for the major of these crimes, dangerous and contagious as it is.
Therefore, with the council and advice of the eminent men and cavaliers of our reign, and of other persons of knowledge and conscience of our Supreme Council, after much deliberation, it is agreed and resolved that all Jews and Jewesses be ordered to leave our kingdoms, and that they never be allowed to return.
And we further order in this edict that all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age that reside in our domain and territories, that they leave with their sons and daughters. Their servants and relatives, large and small, of whatever age, by the end of July of this year, and that they dare not return to our lands, not so much as to take a step on them not trespass upon them in any other manner whatsoever. Any Jew who does not comply with this edict and is to be found in our kingdom and domains, or who return to the kingdom in any manner, will incur punishment by death and confiscation of all their belongings.
We further order that no person in our kingdom of whatever station or noble status hide or keep or defend any Jew or Jewess, either publicly or secretly, from the end of July onwards, in their homes or elsewhere in our reign, upon punishment of loss of their belongings, vassals, fortresses, and hereditary privileges.
So that the said Jews may dispose of their household and belongings in the given time period, for the present we provide our assurance of royal protection and security so that, until the end of the month of July, they may sell and exchange their belongings and furniture and other items, and to dispose of them freely as they wish; and that during said time, no one is to do them harm or injury or injustice to their persons or to their goods, which is contrary to justice, and which shall incur the punishment that befalls those who violate our royal security.
Thus we grant permission to the said Jews and Jewsses to take out their goods and belongings out of our reigns, either by sea or by land, with the condition that they not take out either gold or silver or minted money or any other items prohibited by the laws of the kingdom.
Therefore, we order all councilors, justices, magistrates. cavaliers, shield-bearers, officials, good men of the city of Burgos and of other cities and villages of our reigns and dominions, and all our vassals and subjects, that they observe and comply with this letter and all that is contained in it, and that they give all the help and favor that is necessary for its execution, subject to punishment by our sovereign grace and by confiscation of all their goods and offices for our royal statehouse.
And so that this may come to the notice of all, and so that no one may pretend ignorance, we order that this edict be proclaimed in all the plazas and usual meeting places of any given city; and that in the major cities and villages of the diocese, that it be done by the town crier in the presence of the public scribe. and that neither one nor the other should do the contrary of what was desired, subject to the punishment by our sovereign grace and deprivation of their offices and by confiscation of their goods to whosoever does the contrary. And we further order that evidence be provided to the court, in the manner of signed testimony, regarding the manner in which the edict is being carried out.
Given in this city of Grenada on the thirty-first day of March in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1492.
Signed, I, the King, I the Queen, Juan de Coloma, Secretary of the King and Queen, which I have written by order of our Majesties.
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