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Cuenca, Spain

CUENCA, city in Castile, Spain. Shortly after its reconquest in 1177, Cuenca was granted a fuero ("charter") which served as the model for other Castilian towns. This permitted Jews to settle freely and trade without restriction, but debarred them from certain offices and forbade sexual relations with Christian women, on pain of burning. Chapter XXIX in its entirety and seven scattered laws out of 983 laws of the Fuero de Cuenca deal with Jews. The Fuero establishes, in theory but not in practice, equality before the law for Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Toward the end of the 13th century the community of Cuenca numbered between 50 and 100 families, paying an average annual tax of 70,872 maravedis. The Jewish quarter was located near the cathedral. The Jews made loans to the city in 1318 and in 1326 at a high rate of interest. In 1355 there was an outbreak of anti-Jewish rioting in Cuenca led by the Christian and Muslim supporters of Queen Blanca. During the anti-Jewish riots of 1391, the leading citizens of Cuenca joined the populace in an attack on the Jewish quarter, which was completely destroyed. The community partly recovered during the 15th century. There was now also a considerable body of Conversos. A tribunal of the Inquisition began its activities in the district of Cuenca in 1489; the number of those sentenced reached into thousands. After the issue of the decree of expulsion of the Jews from Spain in March 1492, the Jews of Cuenca and Huete are said to have rioted, claiming that they had four years to leave Spain and threatening to take revenge on the Conversos. Some of the exiles from Cuenca in the Ottoman Empire adopted the name of the city as a family name. The Inquisition continued to operate in Cuenca throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The last serious series of trials took place in the years 1718–25 when hundreds of Crypto-Jews or descendants of Conversos were cruelly persecuted and prosecuted by the local tribunal. This campaign was part of a general inquisitorial move under Philip V. The reason for this campaign in the region of Cuenca may have been the socioeconomic position of the Conversos. The confiscations contributed much to the finances of the Inquisition in Cuenca.

Sources:Baer, Spain, index; H.C. Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain, 1 (1906), index; R. de Ureña y Smenjaud, Las ediciones del Fuero de Cuenca (1917); Huidobro and Cantera, in: Sefarad, 14 (1954), 342; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; S. Cirac Estopañan Registros de los Documentos del Santo Oficio de Cuenca y Sigüenza (1965); C. Carrete Parrondo, in: Helmantica 30 (1979), 51–61; M.F. García Casar, in: REJ 144 (1985), 27–37; R. de Lera García, in: Sefarad 47 (1987), 87–137; R. Carrasco, in: Hispania 166 (1987), 503–59; Y. Moreno Koch, in: El Olivo 27 (1988), 47–52.

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

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