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Calatayud, Spain

CALATAYUD (Heb. קַלְעַת אַיּוּב), city in Aragon, S.W. of Saragossa, northeast Spain. It had one of the most important Jewish communities in Spain and the second most important in the Kingdom of Aragon, after Saragossa. The earliest record of Jews in Calatayud is a tombstone apparently dating from 919. Under Muslim rule the Jews were concentrated in the medinah, the walled part of the city. The community continued to flourish after the downfall of the Umayads in 1031, when the Jewish population was estimated at 800. After the Christian reconquest of the city in 1120, the Jewish quarter was located between the mosque and the cathedral, adjacent to the western wall of the city, and Jews also lived in the fortress area. It is only at the end of the 12th century that the records refer to a legally constituted aljama. The stability of the Jewish community was an integral part of the royal policy designed to ensure the settlement of the conquered territories. Hence the favorable treatment of the Jews of Calatayud in the local fuero. In 1131 Alfonso I granted the city a fuero (municipal charter) in which the Jews were permitted to occupy the same quarter that they had occupied previously, in the fortified part of the city and were given equal legal and commercial status with Christians and Moors. In 1205 Pedro II granted privileges and concessions to several Jews there for services rendered to the royal house. In 1210 he confirmed the privileges granted to the Jews of Calatayud by his father Alfonso II releasing them from taxes and tolls and prohibiting the arrest of Jews for debt. A grant of privilege accorded by James I to the community in 1229 regulated the election of its officers, and empowered four muqaddamūn ( *adelantados ) to draw up the communal statutes. They also had the right to try criminal cases and inflict the death penalty, the community having to pay the crown 1,000 sólidos for each execution. Under Pedro III (1276–85) a mob attacked the Jewish quarter and broke down the gates during the conversionist sermons preached by the friars. Pedro now confirmed his father's instructions that Jews should not be forcibly converted to Christianity. In 1325 the representatives of the poorer classes were accused of manipulating the communal accounts and Infanta María intervened on their behalf.

The Jewish community was administered by the muqaddamūn (adelantados). It was the head community of a collecta, an inter-communal organization originally established to collect the taxes. In the collecta of Calatayud were included the Jews of Ariza, Ricla, and possibly Cetina. In Calatayud there were many minyanim, some of which were held in private houses. At the end of the 14th century another synagogue was added to the eight already in existence. In view of the annual tax of 8,000 sueldos that the community paid at the end of the 13th century, we may assume that some 185 Jewish families, totaling 750–900 Jews, lived in Calatayud. Jewish society was divided into three social classes, the rich, the middle, and the poor. Many confraternities (ḥavurot) were established in Calatayud. In the alcaicería (the market), in 1344 a substantial number of the shops belonged to Jews. Until the mid-13th century the community continued to grow and prosper.

Anti-Jewish rioting broke out during the *Black Death in 1348–49. In 1349 the municipal authorities confiscated the property of Jews who had died intestate during the plague. The community suffered during the war between Castile and Aragon in 1356–69 as Calatayud was located on the Castilian border. Subsequently, the king released several Jews there from paying taxes and assigned a new location for the Jewish quarter.

The 300 Jewish families living in Calatayud in 1391 were apparently not harmed during the disorders but suffered economic and commercial decline. Consequently, Jews emigrated to Navarre. In 1397 there were 191 Jewish households, about 760–860 Jews, constituting more than 12% of the city's population. In 1398 King Martin prohibited the Jews from residing outside the Jewish quarter. The nasi Don Samuel Halevi and Moses b. Musa represented the community at the Disputation of *Tortosa (1413–14). In 1413 many Jews in Calatayud converted and the number of converts grew the following year. In 1414 the municipality prohibited the Jews from leaving the Jewish quarter, from drawing water from the river, and from using the bakery and flour mill even if they did not have contact with Christians. The community was deeply in debt to a convert, Pasqual Pérez de Almacan (Acach Agolit), for his expenses at the papal court, which they were supposed to cover. When at this time the Jews were attacked by the Christian population, Infante Alfonso, with the approval of the Dominican Vicente *Ferrer , issued instructions to the municipal officials to arrest anyone who attacked the Jews, for it is 'in absolute contravention of the will of God, the pope, and the king to effect the conversion of the Jews by force." Distinguished Conversos in Calatayud included Alfonso de Santangel and Miguel Pérez. Noteworthy also was Yucef Abencabra of the Cabra family, who after his conversion took the name Martín de la Cabra. In 1415 he was responsible for converting a synagogue into a church. A large part of commerce and industry was in the hands of Conversos. In 1417 Alfonso V reduced for five years the annual tax and other imposts levied on the community from 27,000 sólidos to 3,000 sólidos in Jaca coin to relieve its impoverished condition. The Jews in Calatayud complained to the king in 1418 of persecution by the municipal authorities and citizens, who had threatened to kill them if they did not withdraw certain charges and to expel Jews who remained faithful to Judaism. The king instructed the governor to give the Jews his protection. In 1420 he permitted them to return to the homes which they had owned in the Jewish quarter before 1415, from which they had apparently been dispossessed. In 1436 John, then viceroy, gave instructions for a radical reorganization of the communal structure. He appointed treasurers, trustees or magistrates, and councilors, and each of the three estates was represented by four members on the community council. A number of Conversos from other places settled in Calatayud, where they were received by the community and returned to Judaism. The Calatayud community came to an end with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. An inventory of that year lists their effects, including chattels, pledges of gold and silver, Torah scrolls, and ornaments. The Inquisition was active in Calatayud between 1488 and 1502, but the inquisitional tribunal was combined in 1519 with that of Saragossa.


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; Baer, Studien, 46f., 147; G.M. Borras Gualis, in: Sefarad, 29 (1969), 31–50; H.C. Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain, 1 (1904), 94, 544; M. Serrano y Sans, Orígenes de la dominación Española en América, 1 (1918), 11–15; A. López de Meneses, Estudios de edad media de la corona de Aragón, 6 (1956), 286–9; Ashtor, Korot, 1 (1966), 215–8; 2 (1966), 154–66; Sefarad, index vol., S.V. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.A. Motis Dolader, La aljama hebrea de Calatayud y su comunidad en la Edad Media; idem, The Expulsion of the Jews from Calatayud 1492–1500, Documents and Regesta (1990).

[Haim Beinart / Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]

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