MURCIA, capital of the former kingdom of Murcia, S.E. Spain. The kingdom was first taken from the Muslims (1243) during the reign of Ferdinand III of Castile. After the revolt of the Muslims, it was reconquered by James I, king of Aragon, who handed it over to Castile in 1265. Among those who assisted the king in his conquest of the region were Judad de la *Cavallería, who lent money for outfitting the navy in the war against the Muslims, and Astruc (or Astrug) Bonsenyor (d. 1280), father of Judah *Bonsenyor, who conducted the negotiations with the Muslims for their capitulation, and who was also translator of Arabic documents in the kingdom. Jewish officials of the kingdom of Aragon met with Jewish officials of the kingdom of Castile in the town, and in 1292, Moses ibn Turiel of Castile held important administrative positions there. *Alfonso X of Castile (1252–84), son-in-law of James I, allocated a special quarter for the Jewish community, explicitly ordering that Jews were not to live among the Christians. However, at the time of their settlement various Jews received properties in the Jewish quarter and beyond it, in the town itself. A site was also allocated for the Jewish cemetery. Once the regulations of the settlement had been stipulated, an annual tax of 30 dinars was imposed on every Jew. Jews were also compelled to hand over tithes and the first fruits of all their possessions and herds to the cathedral, as was customary in Seville. In 1307 jurisdiction over the Muslims of the kingdom of Murcia was entrusted to Don Isaac ibn Yaish, the last Jew to hold such a function.
Toward the close of the 14th century, several Jewish tax farmers were active in the kingdom and in the town, among them Solomon ibn Lop, who settled in Majorca after 1378 and who was granted the special protection of the king of Aragon. During this period, the Jews of Murcia were noted for their generosity in the redemption of prisoners and for their participation in maritime trade; this was in addition to their usual occupations in commerce, crafts and agriculture. Although there are no details available on how the Jews of the town fared during the persecutions of 1391, the community continued to exist after that time. Some 2,000 Jews earned their livelihood in a great variety of activities. Close mutual relations were maintained with the Christian population, and two of the community elders attended the meetings of the municipal council. Throughout the 15th century, Jews of Murcia were often tax farmers, both in the kingdom of Murcia and in other towns near and distant. In 1488 Samuel Abulafia was taken under the protection of the Catholic monarchs for two years in appreciation of his services to the crown during the war against Granada. Solomon b. Maimon Zalmati printed Hebrew books in Murcia in 1490.
Details on the departure of the Jews from Murcia at the time of the expulsion are unknown but it may be assumed that they left from the port of Cartagena. After the expulsion, debts owed by Christians to the Jews were transferred to Fernando Nuñez Coronel (formerly Abraham *Seneor) and Luis de Alcaláfor collection. Murcia also had Conversos, some of whom remained faithful to Judaism. Conversos even used to come there in order to return to Judaism; one such case is mentioned in the La Guardia trial (1490). At an early date, an Inquisition tribunal was established at Murcia.
Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, 1 (1929), index; H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 1 (1906), 550; L. Piles Ros, in: Sefarad, 7 (1947), 357; J. Torres Fontes, Repartimiento de Murcia (1960), passim; idem, Los judíos murcianos en el siglo XIII (1962); idem, Los judíos murcianos en el reinado de Juan II (1965); idem, La incorporación a la caballería de los judíos murcianos en el siglo XV (1966); Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; J. Valdeón Baruque, Los judíos de Castilla y la revolución Trastamara (1968), 57, 69, 70, and passim.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.