PLASENCIA, city in the Estremadura region of Spain, near the Portuguese border. The Jewish quarter was in the suburb of Jaraíz, and in the 13th century the Jewish community ranked with the flourishing communities in Castile. The Jews settled in Plasencia quite soon after its foundation at the end of the 12th century. From the beginning of the 14th century, restrictions issued against the Jews in Castile by the various cortes, or legislative assemblies, were also applied in Plasencia; for instance, those of the cortes of Medina del *Campo (1305), stipulating that no Jew was to farm taxes or acquire real estate from Christians. In 1313 Queen Dona María and the infante Pedro ratified the decisions of the cortes of Plasencia which prohibited the Jews from holding public office; furthermore, suits in which one of the parties was not Jewish were to be tried according to local and not Jewish law, and Hebrew documents would not be accepted as proof. Toward the end of the 14th century, there were 50 Jewish heads of families in Plasencia who paid the annual tax. The decline which overtook the Castile communities after the persecutions of 1391 was also felt in Plasencia.
In the mid-15th century several Jewish names appear among the tax farmers of Plasencia and the kingdom. Various documents give further details on the life of the community during the final period of Jewish residence in Spain. In 1490 a sum of 501,183 maravedis was levied on the community for the redemption of the Jewish captives of *Málaga. The monarchs were dissatisfied with the incomplete residential segregation of the Jews in Plasencia, and in 1491 they ordered that the decisions of the cortes of 1480 be stringently fulfilled. Even after the edict of expulsion of March 1492, the crown continued to collect money in payment of the debts which the Jews had left in the hands of various Christians. One of the collectors was Gernando Perez Coronel (formerly Meir *Melamed).
The exiles from Plasencia, about 50 heads of families, left for Portugal; the synagogue was converted into the Santa Isabel church in honor of the queen; and the cemetery was sold to the local church. There was also a *Converso community in Plasencia, but little is known of it. An *auto-da-fé was held in the town in 1489 and Conversos from nearby *Trujillo were then burnt at the stake.
There were two synagogues in Plasencia. One was in the Mota, next to the alcázar, where San Vicente church stands now. This synagogue was confiscated in 1477 so that a Dominican monastery could be erected on the site in honor of Vicente Ferrer. After the confiscation of their synagogue the Jews built a new synagogue which was on Vargas Street.
V. Paredes, in: Revista de Extremadura, 9 (1907), 499f., 556f.; Baer, Urkunden, 2 (1936), index; B. Netanyahu, Don Isaac Abravanel (Eng., 1953), 280, 285; F. Cantera y Burgos, Sinagogas españolas (1955), 266f.; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E.C. de Santos Canalejo, El siglo XV en Plasencia y su tierra. Proyección de un pasado y reflejo de una época, (1981), 109–19, 194–204; idem, La historia medieval de Plasencia y su entorno geo-histórico: la Sierra de Bejar y la Sierra de Gredos (1986), 521–40.
[Haim Beinart /
Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.