VALENCIA


VALENCIA, city in Valencia province, E. Spain; it had the largest and most important community of the medieval kingdom of Valencia. The date of the first Jewish settlement is unknown, but there was already an important community during the Muslim period. Jews then engaged in crafts such as tanning and shoemaking and often bore the name of their craft. They also engaged in the marketing of agricultural products, a major occupation in Valencia, and maintained commercial ties with other Jewish merchants in Spain. There were few scholars in the Valencia community in this period. E. Ashtor (see bibliography) estimates that there were 162 Jewish families in Valencia, forming 6.5% of the total population, at the time of the Christian Reconquest in 1238. The fragment of a rewritten Hebrew marriage contract from Valencia, dating from the middle or late 11th century, was discovered in the Cairo *Genizah. Solomon ibn *Gabirol died in Valencia between 1055 and 1058.

After the Christian Reconquest

In 1086 the Jewish emissary of King Alfonso VI of Castile arrived in Valencia and represented him there. The capitulation treaty is connected with el Cid, who captured Valencia in 1095; the treaty stipulated that Jews were forbidden to acquire Muslim prisoners of war, Jews who molested Muslims would be prosecuted, and Jews would not be appointed to functions of authority over Muslims and their property.

During the period of Muslim rule and after the final conquest of the town by King James I of Aragon in 1238, the Jewish quarter was situated on the eastern side of the Rahbat el-qadi and in its vicinity, on the site where the Santa Catalina church stands at present. In 1244 James I granted the Jews the whole quarter. A special gate, known as the Jews' Gate, led to the Jewish cemetery. James I granted the Jews of Valencia, and those who settled there, extensive rights. The community enjoyed a very wide autonomy and its judiciary could even deal with criminal offenses. In 1273 James I ratified the boundaries of the quarter. A special wall was erected around it a short while before the persecutions of 1391 (see below). There were many synagogues in the quarter. A number of them were destroyed in 1391 and others were converted into churches. The Jewish quarter of Valencia was one of the largest in the Iberian Peninsula, but nothing of it has survived. This was due to the urban development that began in 1412, two decades after the total destruction of the Jewish community in the massacres of 1391. However, thanks to the archival documents we know where the Jewish quarter was. Following the constant growth of the Jewish population throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, the city authorities decided in 1390 to enlarge the Jewish quarter. This decision barely one year before the complete destruction of the Jewish community aroused very strong opposition on the part of the Christian inhabitants.

The register of the apportionment of properties (Repartirmiento) after the Christian Reconquest gives much information on the period which followed. Jewish court favorites received land and properties. Among the Jewish settlers were several of the king's interpreters, including Baḥya and Solomon *Alconstantini, and Solomon Bonafos, who acted as treasurer of Catalonia. One hundred and four Jews received houses and estates in Valencia and the vicinity; these should be regarded as new settlers. In 1239 James I granted the Jews of Valencia the same privilege as had been granted to the Jews of *Saragossa. Among other provisions, the Jews were granted the right to have lawsuits between them judged according to Jewish law; the king would adjudicate in matters of criminal law; in lawsuits between Christians and Jews, both Jewish and Christian witnesses were required; the form of the Jewish *oath was established (a version of it in Catalonian is extant); Jewish prisoners would be released to be in their homes on the Sabbath. In 1261 James I confirmed the right of the Jews to acquire farming and urban land from all the inhabitants of the country, including noblemen and clergymen – an unusual right in those days, which can perhaps be understood by the importance attached to Jewish settlement in this border region of the kingdom. One of these owners of land, cattle, and sheep was Don Judah de la *Cavalleria, who was appointed bailiff of Valencia after 1263. King Pedro III entrusted the Jews with additional functions in Valencia. When the revolt of the Muslims in the southern part of the kingdom was suppressed in 1277, Moses Alconstantini was appointed bailiff there. Among Jews appointed to administrative office were Muça de *Portella, Aaron ibn Yaḥya, and Joseph *Ravaya.

The authority of these Jews in Valencia was short-lived. Moses Alconstantini was deposed in 1283. The properties of the Ravaya family were confiscated after the death of Joseph, and Moses Ravaya was also dismissed. The anti-Jewish policy formulated at the time by James I was now enforced in Valencia: the laws on loans and interest and the regulations on oaths were reintroduced; Jews were forbidden to slaughter their animals in the abattoirs of the town, and they were ordered to wear a "cloak," as was the custom in Barcelona.

During the reign of James I, in 1271, the Jews of Valencia paid an annual tax of 3,000 solidus in the currency of the kingdom. In 1274 this amount was increased to 5,000 solidos. Pedro III imposed a special levy on the Jews of the town to cover the expenses of his wars, which amounted to 25,000 solidos in Jaca currency in 1282. The sum was collected by coercive and oppressive methods and Solomon b. Abraham *Adret (Rashba), then rabbi of the community, already pointed out (Responsa, vol. 1, no. 427) that the loans and contributions were destroying the foundations of the community's existence. The localities of *Jativa, *Murviedro (Sagunto), Alcira, and Gandia were incorporated in the tax district (collecta) of Valencia, and the annual tax raised generally amounted to 25,000 solidos. At the close of the 13th century, about 250 taxpaying families lived in Valencia whose names have been recorded; they spoke Arabic. After the destruction of the community of Valencia in the persecutions of 1391, however, Ḥasdai *Crescas estimated its population to have been 1,000 "houseowners." This figure may be due to his own impressions or could have referred to the whole of the kingdom of Valencia.

Toward the close of the 13th century, as a result of the activities of Jewish merchants, Valencia became an important center of maritime trade. These "seamen" traded with *Majorca, North Africa, and most of the Mediterranean ports. The merchants purchased raw materials, wool, wool products, and grain, and exported them through Valencia to other ports of the Mediterranean.

Another occupation of the Jews was brokerage, and in 1315 there were 43 Jewish brokers; evidently all those engaged in this occupation were Jews. Even after the destruction of the community of Valencia, the town remained a center of Jewish trade. Alfonso V issued letters of protection to Jewish merchants from Barbary who came to trade in Valencia.

The community administration of Valencia was similar in organization to that of the other large communities of Aragon. The community was headed by a council of 30 members, among whom five were chosen as muqaddimūn by lot (Solomon b. Abraham Adret (Rashba), Responsa, vol. 3, no. 417). The community was supervised by the bailiff-general, the representative of the king. A Jewish mustaçaf was appointed to supervise the market and its activities. In 1300, after members of the community had complained that the wealthy and prominent personalities were throwing the burden of taxation onto "the middle class and the little people," King James II ordered that all payments to the kingdom and the community, including debts of former years, were to be divided up by a system of "declaration," and that everyone should take the oath in the presence of three Jews (one each of the upper, middle, and lower strata). Many problems arose in the Valencia community as a result of disputes and informing (there was a special regulation against informing; *Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet, Responsa, no. 79). Many queries were addressed to R. Solomon Adret and R. Isaac b. Sheshet on these matters. In 1348 Pedro IV ordered the bailiff to arbitrate in community disputes concerning the methods of collecting the tax: whether it was to be imposed by assessment or by "declaration."

The Jews of Valencia suffered during the *Black Death in 1348, and the persecutions which broke out in the town in its wake. In 1354 the leaders of the Valencia community collaborated in the rehabilitation of the communities of the kingdom of Aragon. Each provincial delegate was offered a seat on the national administration. The regulations of the national organization were signed by the resolute parnas of the community of Valencia, Judah Eleazar, a wealthy merchant and landowner who had financial transactions with the crown but was not outstanding for his learning or piety. In 1363 Pedro IV imposed a tax of 50,000 solidos on him as a contribution toward the expenses of the war against Castile. A tax was also imposed on the community and its wealthiest members, totaling 152,000 solidos.

The adoption in 1364 of the regulations of the community of *Barcelona of 1327 may be regarded as a further attempt to reconsolidate the authority of the community. In 1369 Pedro IV authorized the burial society of the community of Valencia to collect interest from a certain income. The prohibitions issued by the community administration included one against gambling, for money or real estate, with Christians.

In 1385 Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet (Ribash) was appointed rabbi of Valencia, his native town, holding this position until the destruction of the community in 1391. He organized activities in Valencia to restore the importance of Torah study and piety. Valuable historical material on the community is contained in his responsa (nos. 253–355).

The Persecutions of 1391

On July 9, 1391, the community of Valencia was attacked and destroyed by rioters who arrived from Castile and soldiers who were stationed in the port from where they were due to sail for Sicily with the infante Martín. In this assault 250 Jews died, while the remainder agreed to convert to Christianity or found refuge in the houses of the townspeople. Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet was among those who fled. Those who converted included distinguished personalities such as Don Samuel Abravalia (who took the name Alfonso Fernández de Villanova after his apostasy), the king's physician Omar Tahuel, who ranked among the muqaddimūn, and his relative Isaac Tahuel. According to some documents, it seems that R. Isaac b. Sheshet was also among the forcibly converted, before he fled. On July 16 the king ordered that Jews who had hidden in the houses of Christians should not be compelled to convert, but be taken to a place of safety. He also prohibited the conversion of synagogues into churches. However, on September 22 the king instructed that a list of the property of the Jews who had perished should be drawn up, in order to have it transferred to him. In November a pardon was granted to the Christian inhabitants of Valencia for the attack because, according to the city elders, the town was being emptied of its inhabitants who were fleeing in every direction. None of the synagogues of Valencia survived the 1391 massacres. The Jewish market, the zoco, which was just outside the Jewish quarter, was in Gallinas Street, at the beginning of Mar Street. The Jewish cemetery was outside the Jewish quarter but within the walls of the city. At the expulsion it was given by Ferdinand to the Dominicans. In its place today stands the El Corte Inglés department store.

After this destruction, the community proved unable to recover, even though in 1393 the king and the queen entrusted Ḥasdai Crescas and the delegates of the communities of Saragossa and *Calatayud with the task of choosing 60 families who would settle in Barcelona and Valencia. A year later John I ordered that their cemetery should be restored to the Jews of Valencia. A small community may have been reconstituted, because, according to Simeon b. Ẓemaḥ *Duran, there were Jews living in Valencia at the close of the century (Responsa, Yakhin u-Vo'az, pt. 2, paras. 14–15).

In 1413 Vicente *Ferrer is known to have endeavored to convert Jews in Valencia, but these may have been concentrated in localities in the vicinity. Only Jewish merchants continued to visit the town. In 1483 King *Ferdinand canceled the permission given to the Jews for prolonged stays in Valencia. He also abolished the privilege exempting Jews who came there from wearing a distinctive *badge.

The Conversos in Valencia

Files of those who were sentenced by the *Inquisition of Valencia within the framework of the Papal Inquisition during the 1460s are extant. In 1464 the Inquisition discovered that many *Conversos had sailed from Valencia port to the Orient, particularly Ereẓ Israel, in order to return to Judaism. A number were apprehended, including families who had arrived there from Andalusia. Numerous testimonies to the Inquisition reported that Conversos had returned to Judaism in all the towns in the area of the eastern Mediterranean.

The Conversos in Spain were seized by an overwhelming desire to leave the country, and many made their way to Valencia for this purpose. When apprehended, however, they were only condemned to expulsion from the region or fined. In 1482, when the Spanish national Inquisition was established and Cristóbal Gualves was appointed inquisitor, the Conversos of Valencia submitted a complaint to the pope against his acts of cruelty and his acceptance of invalid testimonies. Pope *Sixtus IV removed him from his position in Valencia, but King Ferdinand strongly protested against his intervention. In 1484 investigators of heresy were appointed in Valencia to act upon instructions by *Torquemada. It is evident that they had hesitations about their duties, for up to 1492 they issued "orders of grace" three times, a rare occurrence in those days. This may also have been because many Conversos had been hidden in the houses of noblemen and Muslims throughout the kingdom of Valencia.

Up to June 1488, 983 men and women in Valencia returned to the fold of the Church, while another 100 persons were burned at the stake. In the trials the accused were interrogated as to whether they had committed acts against the Christian religion, such as having struck crucifixes, etc. The trial proceedings reveal the overwhelming yearnings of the accused for anything Jewish and their profound adherence to the Jewish religion. Prayer books in the Valencia dialect were found in their possession, and many Jewish prayers were well known to them. The messianic agitation manifested in 1500 was also apparent in Valencia, and the Inquisition took severe measures to eradicate it. The tribunal of Valencia was a regional one, and it continued to function until the general abolition of the Inquisition during the 19th century.

Valencia was the port of embarkation for Jews who left for the Orient after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. The number who left from there is not known, although there is such information on the other Spanish ports. Isaac b. Judah *Abrabanel and his family embarked from Valencia in June 1492 by special permission granted to him by King Ferdinand.

There was a small Jewish population in Valencia in the 1970s, which had recently affiliated to the organization of Spanish communities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

The following bibliography also contains items that relate to the entire medieval Kingdom of Valencia. Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden (incl. bibl.); I. Loeb, in: REJ, 13 (1886), 239ff.; 14 (1887), 264–8; H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 1 (1906), index; J.E. Martínez Fernando, Catálogo de la documentación relativa al reino de Valencia, 2 vols. (1934); B. Llorca, La Inquisición en Valencia, Homenaje a Antonio Rubio i Lluch, 2 (1936), 395f.; M. Ballesteros Gaibrois, Valencia y los Reyes católicos (1944); Neuman, Spain, index; L. Piles Ros, in: Sefarad, 6 (1946), 137–41; 7 (1947), 151–6, 354–60; 8 (1948), 89–96; 15 (1955), 89–101; L. Torres Balbas, in: Al-Andalus, 9 (1954), 194f.; F. Cantera, Singogas españolas (1955), 325–31; F.L. Schneiderman, in: Hispania, 7 (1958), 181–9; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; A. López de Meneses, in: Estudios de Edad Media de la Corona de Aragón Sección de Zaragoza, 6 (1952), 682–83; F.A. Roca Traver, in: Escuela de Estudios Medievales, 5 (1952), 120, Ashtor, Korot, index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Burns, Medieval Colonialism: Postcrusade Exploitation of Islamic Valencia (1975); idem, Jaume I els valencians del segle XIII (1981); idem, Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Crusader Kingdom of Valencia (1984); J.R. Magdalena Nom de Déu, in: Anuario de filología 2 (1976), 181–25; idem, in: Sefarad, 39 (1979), 309–31; idem, in: Afers, 7 (1988–9), 189–205; R. Garcia Càrcel, Orígenes de la Inquisición española: el Tribunal de Valencia, 14781530 (1976); J. Ventura Subirats, Inquisició espanyola I cultura renaixentista al País Valencià (1978); J. Hinijosa Montalvo, in: Saitabi, 29 (1979), 21–42; idem, ibid., 31 (1981), 47–72; idem, ibid., 33 (1983), 105–24; idem, in: Sefarad, 45 (1985), 315–39; idem, in: Hispania, 175 (1990), 921–40; idem, The Jews of the Kingdom of Valencia (1993); L. Piles Ros, in: Sefarad, 44 (1984), 217–82; idem, ibid., 45 (1985), 69–30; J. Guiral-Hadziiossif, in: Anuario de estudios medievales, 15 (1985), 415–65; D. Bramon, Contra moros y judíos (1986) [trans. from Catalan (1981)]; A. García, Els Vives; una família de jueus valencians (1987); L. García Ballester, La medicina a la Valèncai medieval: medicina I societat en un país medieval (1988) 23–51; S. Haliczer, Inquisition and Society in the Kingdom of Valencia, 14781834 (1990).

[Haim Beinart]


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