Massacre of the Jews of Estella (Navarra) 1328

Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#1
Inspired by the historical novels of Toti Martinez de Lezea, for our recent holiday we took a house close to Estella-Lizarra, Navarra. We were able to explore Navarra and present-day La Rioja (once Navarra/Pamplona) - specifically the Pyrenees settings of El Verdugo de Dios, where the Agotes lived and secondly Los Hijos de Ogaiz, set around the rebellion of Navarrans against the 'Francos' and the massacre of the jews and destruction of the juderia in Estella. In common with many towns of the region, the basic layout of Estella is much as it was, so visualising this history is relatively simple. A brief summary of the events:

Jews had coexisted with other communities - first Muslim then Christian - for centuries prior to this event, as in many other places in 'Spain'. Sancho El Mayor built bridges and facilities which enabled the secure Camino de Santiago to pass through Pamplona- Puente la Reina-Estella-Viana- Najera, securely crossing the rivers, in the early 11th century. This was for religious and economic reasons and over times the French merchant immigrants formed a significant and prosperous portion of the community - especially driven by the succession of French-based houses to the throne of Navarra.

In 1260 the jewish community of Estella is listed around 110 families - cerca 450 individuals. Early in the 14th century anti-jewish feeling started to spread around Christian Spain. In Navarra the death of effectively the last Capeto monarch - Carlos - led to civil unrest regarding who would rule Navarra, at the same time as a rebel rouser by the name of Fray Pedro de Ollogoyen was preaching death to the jews across Navarra - we stayed in the next village to Ollogoyen - still only about 20 houses and a church, but I was able to tell the casa owners that there was proof these villages were here back in 1300 at least - probably much earlier

There was a rebellion of Navarran people against their 'Franco' rulers and administrators, resulting in the hanging of a few Navarran citizens and ruthless seizure of goods. In the aftermath of this rabble-rouser Fray Pedro was able to instigate an assault on the juderia - located on a hill just above the Barrio de los Francos - which would spread across Navarra. Whereas in Pamplona and Tudela for example the soldiers of the civil authorities were able to protect the juderias, in Estella the soldiers in the castle Zalatambor just above, took no action. We don't really know why - probably individual indecision or cowardice or maybe corruption, on the part of the commander. A few town council members tried to help but were overwhelmed or killed. The juderia and nearly all in it, men, women and children were destroyed in, one can imagine, fairly unpleasant manners. The ruins are still there today.

When everything came to account several perpetrators were hanged and Fray Pedro would have been among them - but his sentence was commuted to permanent prison by ecclesisrtical authorities (their jail at Pamplona) - after which we lose trace of him

The jewish community would recover in Estella, including after the plague a dozen years later - to be honest I'm not sure if in the same place (it may have been later abandoned to ruins) or in other houses, probably in the same ruins. 150 years later when Ferdinand and Isobel issued the edict evicting all non-converted jews from Castilla and Aragon, Navarra willingly housed them. Finally pressure from Ferdinand led to a similar edict in Navarra, but it is estimated that only around 5% left the area, the rest converting to Christianity. Which of course brings us into the era of conversos, false conversos and the Inquisition. Which is another story, covered by Toti Martinez de Lezea in Vitoria in 'Calle de la Juderia'
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,680
Australia
#2
I was in Estella in May, walking the Camino de Santiago. I took a picture of a church in the town on the south side of the river. Note the figures on the bottom of the carving in the arch above the door. Apparently they are Jews symbolically ( as well as actually) below the Christians above.


Bugger, says the file is too large...
 
Last edited:
Likes: Futurist
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#3
I was in Estella in May, walking the Camino de Santiago. I took a picture of a church in the town on the south side of the river. Note the figures on the bottom of the carving in the arch above the door. Apparently they are Jews symbolically ( as well as actually) below the Christians above.


Bugger, says the file is too large...
It seems we walked the same street a couple of weeks later! Small world.

Fascinating area for history, with Navarra being the most powerful Christian kingdom just after the milennium

Can't get used to that walking in full kit business - much easier to go from town to town by car!! (It's not lack of exercise - we did 3 walks of 5-10km during the week up mountain tacks and stuff)
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,680
Australia
#4
It seems we walked the same street a couple of weeks later! Small world.

Fascinating area for history, with Navarra being the most powerful Christian kingdom just after the milennium

Can't get used to that walking in full kit business - much easier to go from town to town by car!! (It's not lack of exercise - we did 3 walks of 5-10km during the week up mountain tacks and stuff)
I walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Muxia on the coast. A walk I found uplifting spiritually and the history fascinated me. From stories of Roland to the alleged inspiration for Don Quixote, the places I passed through were amazing.
 
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#5
We were going to go to Roncesvalles on the Thursday. But after reading the latest study of Roland's defeat I bought last year

https://www.amazon.co.uk/derrota-Carlomagno-investigación-Batalla-Roncesvalles/dp/8476817819

......and realising it was on a main route across the mountains, lorries etc, taking into account no one really has much of a clue where Roland's column was lost in any case within 600 or 700 sqaure miles(Roncevalles first quoted 2-300 years later). And Roncesvalles village seems to be some sort of pay-to-go-in camino theme park, so we opted for the northern, quiet route to Elizondo and up into the old Agote country instead. Simple villages.
 
Likes: Belgarion
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#7
There are several 'Roland' sites along the Camino, all with varying degrees of historical accuracy. :)
Well the poor fella was either incompetent or Charlemagne was. Charlemagne forbade all discussion of the events during his lifetime. The very scarce sources we have are one or two people in the expedition (obviously not the rearguard) but apparently written after the great man's death.

I did say I went to Agote country instead - it's not beyond possibility it was on that route.
 

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