PORTELLA, DE, a family of courtiers in the kingdom of Aragon, Spain, who flourished at the close of the 13th century, at the time the Jews were removed from the royal administration. Its most distinguished members were the brothers Muça and Ishmael. MUÇA (d. 1286) was the royal baiulus ("baliff") and merino in *Tarazona. He first held these functions during the last years of James I (1213–76), who granted him and his family the privilege of not having to pay more than a fifth of the tax which was imposed on the Jewish community of Tarazona (1267). Even though he was considered the private official of the king, he was recognized as the chief administrator of the state's incomes during the reign of Pedro III (1276–85), who also entrusted him with the repair and maintenance of the fortifications of the border regions. In November 1286 he was assassinated in unknown circumstances. His property was at first confiscated by Alfonso III (1285–91) but after negotiations his family succeeded in redeeming both property and status and settled in Albatar, near Borja.
His brother ISHMAEL (d. c. 1312) also participated in the administration of the state incomes, especially after the death of MUÇA. Until 1289 he acted as dispensator (administrator of the household) of the infante Pedro. In appreciation of his numerous services James II (1291–1327), who entrusted him with various diplomatic missions, granted him many privileges and favors, such as exemption from the payment of taxes. He appointed him rabbi of all the Jewish communities of Aragon. After Ishmael's death, his family settled in Navarre. Its decline marked the end of the presence of Jews in the royal administration of Aragon during the period of the Christian reconquest.
Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; Neuman, Spain, index; D. Romano, Los funcionarios Judíos de Pedro el grande de Aragón (1970), 19–20.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.