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Herrera de Pisuegra

HERRERA DE PISUEGRA, town in N. Castile, Spain. Although the first information about a community there dates from the 15th century, it is known that there were *Conversos living in Herrera after the persecutions of 1391. In the 15th century many Jews and Conversos lived there. The annual tax paid jointly by the communities of Herrera and nearby Osorno amounted to 3,000 maravedis in 1474 and 1482. The tax levied on the community during the war with Granada was raised to 35,000 maravedis in 1491. The dossiers of Conversos from Herrera sentenced by the Inquisition provide a diversified picture of a Jewish community after it had become a community of Conversos. Most of them were tried as followers of Inés of Herrera (known as the Maid of Herrera), the daughter of a cobbler, who had visions concerning the fate of the Conversos and the place they would be allotted in Heaven because of the sufferings they had undergone. Inés was 12 years old when she appeared as prophetess in 1498–1500. Her prophecies promised imminent deliverance with the advent of the Messiah who would lead the Conversos to the Promised Land. Over 100 of her followers – most of them women – were burned at two autos-da-fé in Toledo in February 1501. From the Inquisitorial files we know about the extensive and intensive crypto-Jewish life led by the Conversos in Herrera and its surroundings. According to the files, most couples seemed to have practiced Judaism together. Very often their children, too, were found guilty of Jewish practices. The Converso community was well organized and solidarity characterized the relations between its members. Most of the Conversos in Herrera began to practice Judaism in the middle of the 15th century. Many of the Conversos were initiated into their Jewish practices by their parents. Some studied Hebrew. Sabbath observance was the most widespread practice. They tried to keep track of the Jewish calendar so that they would be able to celebrate the festivals. The Conversos in Herrera gathered in the homes of some of the leading members for prayer. Circumcision was also practiced in some families. From the Inquisitorial files it is clear that women were active in fulfilling certain commandments, such as hallah, kashrut and ritual immersion. Until the expulsion, the Conversos obtained kosher food from their Jewish neighbors.


Baer, Spain, 2 (1966), 356, 496; Baer, Urkunden, 2 (1936), 305f., 309f., 322f.; idem, in: Zion Me'assef, 5 (1933), 66ff.; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, 59, 68, 75, 459, 465; León Tello, in: Instituto Tello Téllez de Meneses, 25 (1966), 109–11; H.C. Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain, 1 (1922), 186; 2 (1922), 520. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Beinart, in: Proceedings of the 7th World Congress of Jewish Studies, vol. 4 (1981), 53–85 (Hebrew section); idem, in: Studies in Jewish Mysticism, Philosophy and Ethical Literature, Presented to Isaiah Tishby (1986), 459–506 (Hebrew).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.