Tudela, Navarre: Wikis


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Flag of Tudela.
Tudela shown in red in a map of Navarre.

Tudela is a municipality in Spain, the second city of the autonomous community of Navarre. Its population is around 30,000. Tudela is sited in the Ebro valley. Fast trains running on two-track electrified railways serve the city and two freeways (AP 68 & AP 15) join close to it. Tudela is the capital of the "Ribera Navarra", the agricultural region of lower Navarre.

The poet Al-Tutili, the 12th century traveller Benjamin of Tudela and the 13th century writer William of Tudela were from the city.

On November 23, 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte's Marshall Lannes won the Battle of Tudela in the Peninsular War.

Of note are the city's festivals in honor of Santa Ana (St. Anne, mother of Mary) which begin on 24 July at noon and continue for approximately one week. Street music, bullfights and the running of the bulls are events which exemplify this festival.



Fiestas in the Plaza Nueva or Plaza de los Fueros

Archeological excavations have shown that the area of Tudela has been populated since the lower paleolithic. The town of Tudela was founded by the Romans on Celt-Iberian settlements. Since then the town has been inhabited continuously. The Roman poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Epigrams Book IV, 55) "recalls in grateful verse" the town of Tutela next to his own native Bilbilis. The city was later taken under the Muslim emirate of Al-Hakam I in 802 by Amrus ibn Yusuf al-Muwalad.

At the beginning of the 9th century, the strategic importance of Tudela as a site on the river Ebro was enhanced by historical and political circumstances. It turned into the base of the Banu Qasi family of Muladis, local magnates converted to Islam that managed to be independent of the emirs, establishing an on-off alliance and close dynastic bonds with the kings of Pamplona during the whole century. With the power of the Banu Qasi fading at the onset of 10th century, the town fell under the influence of the rising Caliphate of Cordoba and had to come up against a more aggressive policy on the part of the new dynasty ruling in Pamplona, the Ximenes, who had set up close ties with their neighbour Christian realms.

The town was used by Muslims as a bridge-head to fight against the Christians of Pamplona. Later Tudela became an important defensive point for the Kingdom of Navarre in battles with Castile and Aragon.

When Christians under Alfonso the Battler (el Batallador) conquered Tudela in 1119, three different communities where living there: Muslim, Mozarab and Jewish. In the aftermath of the conquest, community relations appear to have been strained and Muslims were forced to live in a suburb outside the town walls, whereas Jews continued to reside inside the walls (see section on Jewish Tudela below). The co-existence of different cultures is reflected in Tudela's reputation for producing important medieval writers.

The Jews were banished in 1498 (the expulsion from Navarre being slightly later than in the rest of Spain). Muslims and Moriscos were expelled in 1516 and 1610 respectively. There are still examples of Islamic-influenced architecture in the city - the style the Spanish call Mudéjar; but the principal mosque was turned over to the Church in 1121, and by the end of the 12th century construction of the cathedral had begun. The cathedral exhibits outstanding examples of Romanesque architecture, such as the Puerta del Juicio, or Door of the (Last) Judgement [1]. There are some Gothic influences and also Baroque additions to the building.

At the end of the 17th century, the new public square was built, called Plaza Nueva or Plaza de los Fueros, which became the main city centre. The train station was built in 1861, which, together with the agricultural revolution, resulted in a new period of expansion for the city.

Jewish Tudela

Tudela was the oldest and most important Jewish community in the former kingdom of Navarre.


Organisation under Christian rule

Tudela church.jpg

When King Alfonso the Battler captured the town from the Muslims in 1119 it contained a large number of Jews. In fact, several of Tudela's better-known Jews were born during the time of Muslim political control, although Benjamin of Tudela was probably born soon after the Christian conquest.

The Jews were not content with a fuero (charter) granted in 1121 by the conqueror, and suspecting that their safety was threatened, they decided to emigrate; only at the special request of Alfonso and on his promise that they should be granted municipal rights similar to those of Nájera, did the Jews consent to remain. Subsequent tensions are suggested by the fact that Sancho VI of Navarre (known as "The Wise") in 1170 confirmed all the rights which Alfonso had granted them and assigned to them the castle precincts as an aljama (or Judería to use an alternative term). The king gave them a tax exemption on condition they maintained their section of the fortifications; he permitted them freely to sell their houses located in the former Judería; and he allowed them to establish a cemetery outside the city. He also showed tolerance in his regulation of their legal status[1].

In the Judería there was a large synagogue (repaired in 1401) and several smaller ones. The Jewish community had its own magistrates, comprising two presidents and twenty representatives (regidoros), who drew up new statutes, inflicted penalties, excluded from membership in the community, and pronounced the ban. In 1359 the Jews of Tudela petitioned Don Luis, brother and representative of King Charles II, that they might be allowed to punish those Jews who violated their religious regulations. In a statute drawn up in March, 1363, by the representatives of the community it was decided to deal energetically with denunciators and slanderers. This statute was publicly read in all the synagogues on the Day of Atonement; and in 1400 it was renewed for a period of forty years (the statute is given in Kayserling, l.c. pp. 206 et seq.).

Professions and economic activities

The Jews of Tudela followed the most varying occupations; they traded in grain, wool, cloth, and even, under Muslim rule, in slaves. There were among them tanners, who were obliged to pay 35 sueldos a year to the king for the use of their tannery, which was situated on the river Ebro; and the Jewish shoemakers and gold- and silver-workers had their shops in a special market-place, for which in the year 1269 they paid 1,365 sueldos to Theobald II. They had also their own motalafla, or gagers' bureau, where their weights and measures were subjected to official inspection. They engaged in money-lending also, while some of them - Don Joseph and Don Ezmel de Ablitas, for example - had large commercial houses. The farming of the taxes likewise was in their hands. Solomon and Jacob Baco and Ezmel Falaquera were tax farmers, and Nathan Gabai was chief farmer of the taxes.


Tudela was the birthplace or residence of a number of Jewish scholars, the most famous of whom were the scholar Judah ha-Levi (c. 1075-1141) and the 12th-century traveller Benjamin of Tudela, the account of whose travels was translated into several languages, and is still a valuable historical source. Chayyim ben Samuel (author of the "Tzeror ha-Chayyim"), Shem-T'ob ben Isaac Shaprut (philosopher and apologist), and several members of the learned Minir family were born in the city. The cabalist Abraham Abulafia passed his youth in Tudela.

Other Rabbis of Tudela are known: Joshua ibn Shu'eib, author of sermons,kabbalist and student of Rabbi Solomon ibn Aderet who flourished in the 14th century; Joel ibn Shu'aib, author of sermons and Bible commentaries; and Chasdai ben Solomon, who flourished in the 15th century. Sources differ as to whether Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra was born in Tudela or Toledo, but his Wikipedia entry gives the former - he is famous as a poet, grammarian, mathematician, and astronomer - he has a lunar crater named after him (Abenezra).


Like his grandfather, who had for his body-physicians the Jews Don Joseph and Don Moses Aben Samuel, King Sancho VI also had a Jewish physician, named Solomon, to whom he not only granted baronial rights in the whole kingdom, but also gave farm-land and vineyards in two villages near Tudela. Further, in 1193, a few months before his death, he granted Solomon also proprietary rights in the bath located in front of the Albazares gate.

Economic decline

The Jews of Tudela, whose 500 families had by 1363 diminished to 270, were greatly oppressed by the taxes imposed on them by the king. These in 1346 and the following years had amounted to 2,000 livres annually, and in 1375 to 3,382 livres; in addition, the Jews had to pay subsidies from time to time. In consequence of the war with Castile and owing to the ravages of the plague in 1379 and 1380, the community continued to decrease in numbers till in 1386 there were scarcely 200 Jewish families in the city, and these were so poor that the taxes could not be collected from them.


In February 1235, Tudela was the scene of a rebellion against the government, when many Jews were wounded and several were sacrificed to the rage of the populace. Peace was restored only through a treaty between King Theobald I and the city council (Kayserling, l.c. pp. 200 et seq.). The Shepherds' Crusade of 1321 affected Tudela. About 30,000 rapacious murderers fell upon the Jews in Tudela, killing many of them. When, some time later, 500 (or, according to other accounts, 300) made another attempt to surprise the Jews, they were overcome by a knight who lay in wait for them. Out of gratitude to Providence for their escape from this danger, the wealthier Jews endeavored to alleviate the condition of their coreligionists who had suffered from the persecutions. They collected grain and oil in storehouses, and supported poor Jews therefrom for a period of three years. In the great persecution of 1328, during which 6,000 Jews perished in Navarre, those of Tudela did not escape.

In 1492 the Jews were expelled from the dominions of Ferdinand and Isabella, sovereigns of Castile and Aragon, by the Alhambra Decree. The Jewish population of Tudela was increased by the arrival of refugees from other parts of Spain. In 1498 King John III of Navarre, under the influence of Ferdinand and Isabella, issued an edict to the effect that all Jews must either be baptized or leave the country. In Tudela 180 families received baptism. The converts, or Conversos, were suspected of being Marranos, or secret Jews. Many of them emigrated a few years later to France. The names of the conversos were published in a great roll called "La Manta" and exposed in the nave of Tudela's cathedral. Tudela still preserves some Hebrew documents in its archives.[2] Also buildings associated with the Jewish community have survived to the present day.[3]


  • Universidad Nacional de Educación a distancia
  • Universidad Pública de Navarra
  • IES Benjamín de Tudela [4] in Spanish
  • IES Valle del Ebro
  • Colegio San Francisco Javier
  • CP Virgen de la Cabeza
  • CP Monte de San Julián
  • CP Elvira España
  • CP Griseras
  • Colegio Anunciata
  • Colegio Compañía de María
  • Escuela Técnico Industrial ETI



  1. ^ Compare Meyer Kayserling, "Geschichte der Juden in Spanien", i. 197.


External links

Coordinates: 42°03′49″N 1°36′20″W / 42.06361°N 1.60556°W / 42.06361; -1.60556


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