MURVIEDRO


MURVIEDRO (in Catalan, Morvedre; now Sagunto), city in Valencia, E. Spain, near the Mediterranean coast, built on the ruins of the Roman city Saguntum. According to a legend, a tombstone was found there bearing the inscription in Hebrew "Adoniram, treasurer of King Solomon, who came to collect the tax tribute and died." Another spurious inscription mentioned King Amaziah's military commander as having also met his death in Murviedro. Jews lived in Murviedro during Muslim rule. On capture of the city by King James I of Aragon, the Vives family was given a bakery in the city, as a reward for services rendered during the siege. Several Jews served as royal bailiffs there including Solomon Baye, Solomon b. Lavi de la *Cavallería (1273), and Joseph ibn Shaprut (1279–80). At the time the community numbered 50 taxpayers. The Jewish quarter was on the west side of the Roman theater, the present Calle Segovia and Calle Ramos being the main streets. In 1321 James II authorized the Jews to fortify their quarter. A large portion of the community's revenue was derived from taxes on the sale of meat and wine. Silversmiths and cobblers are specifically mentioned among the artisans obliged to pay taxes; artisans who earned less than six denarii a day were exempt from taxes. R. *Isaac b. Sheshet permitted indigent artisans in Murviedro to work during the intermediate days of the Jewish festivals. In 1328 the community acquired grounds for a new cemetery, tombstones from which are still preserved.

During the 1391 persecutions, the Jews of Murviedro found refuge in the fortress which was near the Jewish quarter. Hence after the massacres, Murviedro, the only surviving community in the Kingdom of Valencia, became one of the most important communities of the Crown of Aragon. In the 15th century, the Jewish quarter had 120 houses and probably more than 600 residents. In 1394 the king ordered that the Jews of Murviedro should not be investigated in respect of their activities to counteract conversion or for bringing back Conversos to Judaism and assisting them to leave the country. In 1402 Queen Doña María authorized the Murviedro community to establish several societies for catering to communal needs: the *Bikkur Ḥolim society, to care for the sick; a burial society; and a Talmud Torah society. Various problems arose with the increased number of conversions. In 1416 Alfonso V dealt with the division of property of deceased Jews between the heirs who had remained Jews and those who had been converted. The Jewish silversmiths of Murviedro were celebrated for their craft; especially notable was Vidal Astori, who in 1467–69 worked for the future King Ferdinand the Catholic. In 1474 the muqaddimūn (*adelantados) complained to the bailiff-general about some nobles who had forbidden their vassals to trade with the Jews of Murviedro. The bailiff decided in favor of the community and proclaimed freedom of trade in the area.

The Jews of Murviedro did much to encourage their Converso brethren to return to Judaism. After the decree of expulsion was issued in March 1492, Gerica, one of the local Jews, reached an agreement with Valencia merchants to transfer 300 Jews from Murviedro to Oran, in North Africa. Other agreements dating from the end of July relate to the conveyance of Jews from Murviedro to Naples. A total of 500 Jews left the city, and the synagogue in the present Calle de la Sangre Vieja was turned into a church named Sangre de Cristo ("Blood of Jesus").

The Jewish quarter of Murviedro is one of the best preserved in Spain, probably because it did not suffer any attack in 1391. The Jewish quarter is in the upper part of the city. Entrance to the quarter is through an arch which was called Portal de la juheria. It is situated near the Roman theater and includes within its boundaries the streets Antigones, Segovia, Pelayo, Ramos and Sang Vella. The Portal is at the beginning of Sang Vella Street when one enters from Castillo Street. The synagogue was probably at the corner of Sang Vella and Segovia streets.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Baer, Spain, index; A. Chabret, Sagunto [Murviedro], su historia y sus monumentos, 1 (1880), 324f.; 2 (1880), 329–51, 408f., 463f.; Vendrell Gallostra, in: Sefarad, 3 (1943), 119, Cantera, ibid., 5 (1945), 250; Piles Ros, ibid., 8 (1948), 81ff., 358; 12 (1952), 119, 121; 15 (1955), 99ff.; 17 (1957), 352–73; 20 (1960), 368; F. Cantera, Sinagogas españolas (1955), 268–71; Cantera-Millás, Inscripciones, 293ff.; Jiménez Jiménez, in: Actas y communiciones de IV congreso de historia de la Corona de Aragón, 1 (1961), 251–62; Beinart, in: Estudios, 3 (1962), 15ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.D. Meyerson, in: T. Burman, M.D. Meyerson, L. Shopkow (eds.), Religion, Text, and Society in Medieval Spain and Northern Europe (2002), 70–102; idem, Jews in an Iberian Frontier Kingdom, Society, Economy, and Politics in Morvedre, 1248–1391 (2004); idem, A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain (2004).

[Haim Beinart /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.