BARBASTRO, city in northern Aragon, Spain. Ramón Berenguer IV, count of Barcelona, conferred an estate upon a Jew named Zecri of Barbastro in 1144 as a reward for his services. In 1179 the bishop of Huesca granted Benjamin Abenbitals and Joseph b. Solomon permission to erect shops near the cathedral. Toward the middle of the 13th century the Jews occupied the Zuda, the citadel of Barbastro, which became the Jewish quarter. The charter of privileges granted to them in 1273 allowed them to request the bailiff to execute informers (malshinim) and prosecute Jews of dissolute morals. During the 13th–14th centuries the community of Barbastro, with a population of 200–300 Jews, was one of the important Aragonese communities of the group following the leading Jewish centers in Saragossa, Calatayud, and Huesca.
In 1285 Pedro II endorsed new communal tax regulations. The Jews of Barbastro paid for the right to maintain a bureau in which the promissory notes for loans were drawn up. In 1330 Alfonso IV acceded to the request of the community to abrogate his instruction that a Christian burgher should be appointed to administer Jewish communal affairs, and endorsed the continuation of the former administrative system. The circumstances of the community were so straitened at this period that a special levy imposed by the king did not amount to more than 20 Jaca sólidos. In 1363, however, a levy of 500 Jaca sólidos was imposed by Pedro IV to meet the cost of the war with Castile. In 1383 the king renewed the privilege of the Barbastro community prohibiting apostates from entering the Jewish quarter and preaching missionary sermons there, while Jews could not be compelled to enter into religious disputations with Christians.
During the massacres of 1391 the Jews of Barbastro took refuge in the citadel, which was subjected to a siege and on August 18, King John I instructed the local authorities to take measures against the culprits. The Jews of Barbastro suffered little compared to other communities. The community evidently ceased to exist after the disputation of *Tortosa and as a result of the pressure exerted by the Dominican preacher Vicente *Ferrer . In 1415 Benedict XIII ordered the synagogue to be converted into a church, known as the hermitage of San Salvador, because all the Jews in the city had become baptized and left the faith. It remained, however, a *Converso center. Many Conversos lived near the plaza del Mercado.
Baer, Studien, 146; Baer, Urkunden, 1 pt. 1 (1929), index; Baer, Spain, 1 (1961), 55, 142, 426; Neuman, Spain, 1 (1942), index; del Arco, in: Sefarad, 7 (1947), 273, 280–1, 329; Rius, ibid., 12 (1952), 339–40, 348–9; Cabezudo, ibid., 23 (1963), 265–84. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Martín Padilla, in: Homenaje a Don José María Lacarra de Miguel, 4 (1977), 213–33.
[Haim Beinart / Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.