The Jewish Quarter of Seville included the current neighbourhoods of Santa Cruz, Santa María la Blanca and San Bartolomé, and was separated from the rest of the city by a wall, which went down from the beginning of Conde Ibarra Street, passing through Mercedarias’s Square , to the wall of the city. In general, historians agree to recognize that from the earliest times the children of Israel established commercial relationships with the Iberian tribes. Since then, the Hebrew ships began to arrive at the famous Tarsis, that is to say, to the magnificent Spanish region that owes its name to the Tartesio or Guadalquivir.
It is possible that the Jewish quarter of Seville was, if not the oldest, one of the oldest in Spain. Híspalis (Seville) was, in fact, the key place of the Peninsula and Scipio later became its capital. The Jews must have been attracted to the great city that gave its name to all of Hispania. During the Visigothic period the Sevillan Jewish quarter we suppose that it had a considerable influence since, given how they were to trade and industry, they should prosper where there was greater wealth and population. In addition, Seville was the most populated city in Spain, the intellectual capital of the kingdom, the centre of Catholicism, the inspiration for the councils of Toledo and the political capital from Teudis to Atanagildo. Therefore, it was there that they normally had to use their activity and capital.
During the conquest of Spain by the Arabs, the Jews who had contributed to the invasion were respected and treated with generosity by the Muslims and settled in all the cities taken, enjoying great influence in the new society, thanks in part to their importance financial The Sevillian Jewry was one of the most numerous and without doubt the most laborious of all. At that time, Seville not only stood out for its commercial relations facilitated by the importance of its river, but also for its medical schools, where the main doctors of Spain, including those of Córdoba, like the great Averroes, came to study; It also stood out for its great philosophical movement, which had been separated from the Koranic orthodoxy and attracted the most illustrious thinkers, such as Tufail, perhaps the most original of the Spanish philosophers, and finally for their arts, since according to a well-known proverb in that time, when a musician died his instruments were sold in Seville. The prosperity enjoyed by the city allows us to believe that its extensive Jewish quarter should go hand in hand.
The Jews were the most numerous and important minority of late medieval Seville. Before the Christian conquest, in 1248, it is likely that the Jewish quarter was depopulated in the mid-twelfth century because of the Almohad invasion, which expelled Christians and Jews from their territories. What is certain is that most of the Jews who settled in Seville with the conquest came from Toledo, in a reflux movement of those who had fled from Andalusia to Castile in the 12th century, fleeing the Almohad persecution. This does not mean, however, that there were no Jews in the Almohad Seville. Alfonso the 10th donated to the rabbi Yuçaf Cabaçay, his Jew, a store in Seville, in front of the church of Santa María, and behind the stores of the Jewish changers, a Jewish store "así commo la ouo en tiempos de moros".
The legal framework of their collective life was similar to that of the Mudejars: the kings protected the practice of their religion, allowed them to have their own judges for internal civil cases, and charged them some special tributes. But the life of the Sevillian Jewry was much brighter than that of the Mudejars, at least until the late fourteenth century. First of all because it was the second Hebrew community in the kingdom, after Toledo, with a maximum of four hundred families in the best moments of the fourteenth century, about two thousand people. Also, because there was a group of rich Jews, real and municipal almojarifes: names like those of Zulema Pintadura and his son Zag de la Maleha, almojarifes or senior treasurers of Alfonso the 10th, Yuçaf Pichón, who was Enrique the 2th a century later. Yuçaf Levi, nephew of the famous Pedro the 1th almojarife, Samuel Levi, or the Aben Pex, go beyond the framework of local history. Other typical professions, more or less lucrative were those of doctor, tailor, weaver, silversmith, merchant, some merchants and artisans of various kinds.
From the first moments of the Christian conquest, the Jews occupied in Seville a neighbourhood of their own, located practically outside the walls, north of the Alcázar. We know that, in 1252, Alfonso the 10th donated to the Jews three mosques in the Jewish quarter, to be converted into synagogues. These synagogues correspond to three current churches: Santa Cruz, San Bartolomé and Santa María la Blanca. The free neighbourhood that the Jews occupied in Seville covered a wide area of the city. The wall that surrounded it extended from the current College of San Miguel to the centre of the right aisle of the cathedral and, crossing the place occupied later by the Corral of the elms, followed by the Borceguinería until the Puerta de Carmona and fitted in the wall that surrounded the city until the foot of the Tower of gold. After the Reconquista, the Jewish quarter was reduced to the part described by the authors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The wall that surrounded the Jewish quarter was, on the outside, that of the city, but outside the precinct was the mole of the Alcázar, as well as the neighbourhood of the mosque and part of the Borceguinería; the Jewish quarter was limited by the wall that, starting from the Puerta del Alcázar, very close to the Vida Street, penetrated the Soledad Street, reached the area where the church of San Nicolás rises today and ran along from Toqueros Street and The Vidrio Street to enter the Tintes Street through the Callejón de Armenta (formerly La Rosa Street) to finally join the outer wall of the Puerta de Carmona.
The Jewish neighbourhood communicated with the countryside and the city through three doors. The one that was outside the city seems to be, according to most of the authors, the current door of the Meat, which the Arabs called Bab el Chuar or Puerta de las Perlas. The second door had access to Mesón del Moro street and was made of iron. The third, that of San Nicolás, was in front of Rodrigo Alfonso Street. Finally, there was a small door, called the Atambor because at night it closed to the drum beats of the guard's body. This door faced Rodrigo Caro street. The three doors closed at the touch of the Angelus and did not open until the next morning.
As for the door that faced the Prado, it was located in a neighbourhood that communicated with the necropolis. Alfonso the 10th granted the Jews three synagogues, but the Jews were erecting new ones as their prestige increased, as they did not cease to obtain the favours of the Court. The square of the Açuyca or Azueica occupied a separate place in the topography of the Jewish quarter; located at the end of Archeros street, proudly showed the synagogue of Santa María la Blanca located behind the Puerta de la Carne.
The Sevillian aljama counted on some Jewish personages of great wealth and much influence, reason why their activities transcended, in the majority of their occasions, of the urban frame of Seville, to be developed to level of all the Castilian kingdom. Some of them were great scientists, emphasizing medicine among their professions, others performing public functions, which had been delegated to them by the kings. Among them we can highlight the following: Samuel Levi, trusted man of King Mr Pedro: Treasurer and trusted man of King Mr Pedro. Samuel Abrabanel, glorious John of Seville Ibn Gauison, famous Talmudist Yosef ibn Rabia Elazar: Wise astronomer Rabbi Solomon, tree of science: Physician, astronomer and exegete of great merit that shone in the fourteenth century. Moshé ibn Zarzal, excellence in Medicine: Doctor of Pedro the 1th. Yusaph Pichón: Named by Enrique the 2th of Trastámara almojarife for the city of Seville and his archbishopric, becoming the king's chief accountant.
The Sevillian Jews had their own institutions, as it did in the other aljamas of the kingdom. Its system of organization coincided in many points with that of Christians. Thus, the highest authority the Jew Major, Old or Judge of the aljama of the Jews of the very noble city of Seville that governed it helped by a council of Jews. As far as religion is concerned, the Sevillian Jews sought to safeguard their idiosyncrasies with greater vehemence. They had, of course, their rabbis, who provided the spiritual needs of the aljama and celebrated the worship in the synagogues.
During the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the Jews contributed to reactivate the Sevillian economy. Many of them became servants of the royal house, landlords of the rents of the border, who had to collect the royal rights of the almojarifazgo of Seville by Fernando the 4th. During his reign, Seville became the centre of great international trade. It is very possible that the Hebrews participated in all activities related to maritime exchanges, although in the absence of documents, cannot be stated categorically.
The influence of the Jews in the Court increased when Alfonso the 11th began to exercise power effectively. The king made an almojarife mayor to Mr Yuçaf de Écija, whom he named his advisor. This Mr Yuçaf built a synagogue in Seville, in 1343.
Also from the institutional point of view, another fact that differentiated Jews from Christians was the special tribute they had to pay, both to the king and to the Church. The Sevillian Jewry reached its apogee under the reign of Pedro the 1th, King of Castile from March 26, 1350 until his death and great patron of Jewish Seville. Surrounded by people who continuously betrayed him, Mr Pedro gave his trust to his treasurer, Samuel ha-Levi. Mr Samuel achieved such power and prestige that he aroused the envy of the court, who accused him before the king of having stolen his rents. He ordered him arrested, taking him to Seville, in whose Atarazanas he died, after being tormented, around 1361. His property was confiscated, it is said, very large, since he was found in large quantities of gold and silver, and They seized their properties in Toledo and Seville. This decision of Pedro the 1th has been explained not only by the accusations that were made to Mr Samuel, but by a desire to change economic policy, at the same time that it pleased the clergy and ruled the murmurings that showed the king as benefactor of the Jews.
The animosity towards the Jewish community, present for a century, but more or less disguised, was unleashed openly in 1354, when the Sevillian Jews were accused of desecrating the host. The black plague, of 1348, had unleashed tempers and the Jews suffered the consequences of the years of depression after the epidemic.
But the anti-Jewish mentality grew after the accession to the throne of the Trastámara dynasty, in whose program of government there was talk of ending the power that the Jews had reached in earlier times, especially with Pedro the 1th. Enrique the 2th received the complaints of the Castilian prosecutors against the Jews in the Courts of Burgos of 1367, in which the king was asked to reduce and postpone the payment period of the debts owed to the Jews, the seizure of the castles and fortresses owned by the Jews and the removal of the Hebrew communities in closed neighbourhoods. The king reduced the payments of debts by a third party and postponed the payment two years, accepted the seizure of fortresses, if it did not come some disservice, and rejected the move arguing that "non es razón de lo facer, ca se destruirían los Judíos".
In a similar way the Sevillian juries expressed their requests to the king in 1371. The king granted the juries privileges, to prevent them from feeling left out by the aldermans and legislated against the buildings built by Christians next to the Jewish quarter, so that they do not exceed it in height.
In such a tense environment, many well-placed Jews converted to Christianity, even before the massacres of 1391. In the spring of this year, the Archdeacon of Écija, Ferrand Martínez, began touring the city of Seville, haranguing and exhorting to the Sevillians against the Jews. On the 6th of March the hatred planted by the Archdeacon of Ecija finally broke out, prompting a popular uprising, in which the people entered through the Judería neighbourhood, looting the shops, mistreating and chasing the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter. After some time, and not without mistrust, some Jewish families returned to Seville, rebuilding their shops and their houses. However, there was never again a Jewish neighbourhood. The neighbourhood, its palaces and synagogues were Christianized. It was respected, only temporarily, to the converts, but the important buildings were transformed into palaces for noble Castilian, convents or squares. The remaining Hebrew community slowly withdrew, crouching in the inner streets where the only synagogue had remained, fearing the worst and only under the laws of the same king who sought to avoid further assaults.
Of the three synagogues, two were expropriated, and converted, one in the parish of Santa Maria de las Nieves, vulgarly called the White, and another in the parish of Santa Cruz, but not the current one, but the one that was on the ground today occupies the Plaza de Santa Cruz.
After some years, when Enrique the 3th reached the age of majority to reign, one of his first acts of government was to prosecute and jail the Archdeacon of Ecija, Mr Ferrand Martínez. The king also imposed a very high fine on the neighbourhood of Seville and its City Hall, so high that it was not possible to pay it in cash, and for more than ten years the municipality of Seville was paying amounts of gold, to pay the penalty imposed for the destruction of the Jewish quarter, as we see in the accounts of the Mayorazgo Book in the municipal archive. The Jews of Seville did not recover from that extermination. The Jewish Quarter, which had reached more than five thousand residents, was reduced to a few dozen, who could hardly compose enough to organize a synagogue, which is now converted into a parish church of San Bartolomé, built after that killing.
In the middle of the fifteenth century there were Jews scattered throughout all the snacks in the city, the walls and much of Judería itself disappeared, although in Santa Cruz, Santa María la Blanca and San Bartolomé there were still many Jewish families. The Court of the Holy Office, installed in the church of the Magdalena in Seville in 1480 to judge and punish heresies, marked the end of the Jewish quarter. Already in 1481 there were cases of condemnation of the stake for the simple fact of being a Jew.
The decline of the Jewish quarter was such that at the end of the fifteenth century there were practically no Jews in Seville, so the decree of expulsion of the Jews dictated by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 was noticed in all the cities of the kingdom, except in Seville, from where practically no one was expelled, because there were no longer Jews in the city. In general, it can be said that the development of the life of the Sevillian converts, in the last years of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, was not easy at all. Thus, along with his great desire to return to normal and try to rebuild their lives and fortunes, we can see the lack of sincerity of many of these conversions, so, in a short time, this confession as they were called documentation of the time, they returned to practice their old beliefs and, in many cases, they decided to go into exile in Portugal or Granada.
The Sevillian converts conserved and increased in the fifteenth century, on the contrary, their economic and social power. Some came to constitute important lineages incorporated to the citizen knights or to the exercise of municipal power: Marmolejo, Sanchez de Sevilla and Martinez de Medina, conversos before 1391, Fernández Cansino, Susán, Lando maybe. Others retained their banking functions of lending money, rental income, liberal professions and, in general, their previous means of living. A good part of them turned sincerely to the Christian faith: others did not, and the common people extended all their suspicions about the cryptojudaism of some, as an argument to insist on their social marginalization and to carry out at times assaults on houses of converts in the moments of greatest social tension of the century, as well, in 1465 and 1473-1474; in the end, the result was, for the Jews, the expulsion, so that their presence could not religiously attract the converts, often their relatives, or provide reason for them to suffer "various desires with infamy". But many converts had to suffer something worse perhaps: the operation of the Tribunal of the Holy Office since 1480.
Fuente: web Red de Juderías de España