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PALENCIA, city in north central Spain in the province of Palencia, Castile. Palencia had an important Jewish community, which is thought to have started as early as the 11th century. However, the earliest available information on Jewish settlement in Palencia dates from 1175, when Alfonso VIII delivered 40 Jews to the bishop of the town and placed them under his jurisdiction (this agreement was reratified in 1351). In 1192 Alfonso VIII exempted all Jews and Moors in the town from the payment of royal taxes, as they were already paying their share of the town's revenues. During the 13th century the population remained at 40 families and the community continued to prosper, as did many of the communities in Castile. In 1295 the Jews participated in the revolt against the king and the destruction of the bishop's palace. At the beginning of the 14th century *Asher b. Jehiel, giving his verdict (Responsa 21, §8) concerning the eruv arrangements introduced by R. Jacob b. R. Moses Debalincia (Palencia), decreed that the latter was to retract his instructions because he had misled the public. R. Asher demanded that R. Jacob be considered a "rebellious scholar" and banned from the Jewish community.

The community of Palencia suffered during the civil war between Pedro of Castile and Henry of Trastamara: according to the testimony of R. Samuel Ẓarẓa in his Mekor Ḥayyim, Henry claimed a large sum from the community; in R. Samuel's words, "they were in great distress." The community of Palencia was not spared during the persecutions of 1391 and it also had its *Conversos. Palencia and its surrounding region, however, witnessed the appearance of a popular prophet, who at the beginning of the 15th century called for repentance and announced the forthcoming redemption.

In 1480 the Jews and Conversos were separated into distinct quarters. A new quarter was allocated to them on Maria Gutiérrez Street (now Martín Calleja). After the 1492 Expulsion the name of the street was changed to Santa Fé, and a fine was to be imposed on anyone who referred to the street as judería (*Jewish Quarter). In 1485 the Jews were ordered to wear a distinctive sign and Christians were forbidden to lodge in Jewish houses, although they could work for them by day. The Jews were called upon to contribute 501, 183 maravedis toward the redemption of the prisoners of Malaga. It is known that during the Expulsion period – as early as May 1492 – a decree was issued to sell the synagogue located on the present-day Street of San Marcos. The proceeds of this sale were given to poor Jews to assist their departure from Palencia. Another synagogue was converted into a hospital in November 1492. There is little information available on the Conversos of Palencia. The prophetic movement of the Maiden Inés was formed in 1500 in the region of Palencia, at *Herrera de Pisuerga. Most of the Jews of Palencia moved to Portugal in 1492.

According to a local tradition the first Jews settled near the church of San Julián, which no longer exists, but was on the right bank of the river Carrión. Until the 15th century the Jews lived in various parts of Palencia. The majority was concentrated in the area of Plaza de León, where the synagogue was located between Manflorido and Regimiento Villarrobedo streets. The judería vieja (the old Jewish quarter) in La Pellejería was in the area that is now between the streets San Marcos and Cardenal Almaraz. Nothing has remained of the medieval Jewish quarter. In 1480 the Jews had to be in an enclosed quarter, the judería nueva, situated in today's Martín Calleja street. It was a narrow street. In 1492 it was renamed Santa Fe street.


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, 2 (1936), index; J. González, El Reino de Castilla a la época de Alfonso VIII (1960), 129f., 132; F. Cantera, in: Sefarad, 22 (1962), 93ff.; P. León Tello, Los judíos de Palencia (1967).

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