Why did Queen Isabella Of Spain Hate Jewish People? Did She Underlining Reason? Was It Because They Weren't Catholic Like She Was?

Nov 2010
7,266
Cornwall
#4
The answers are so complex it's not possible to put them in a post on here. But I'll have a go. It was explained quite comprehensively in a recent book I read on La Inquisicion Espanola, but still hard.

First of all let's say that Ferdinand called all the shots. Although Isobel was a strong queen and ruled the stronger country (Castille), Ferdinand called the shots (all over W Europe really). The difficulties in uniting the ever-warring countries and regions of Christian Spain and also internal civil wars around their successions were immense. All sorts of parties had to be kept happy despite the fact they came to rule with quite some ruthlessness.

A lot of Isobel's supporters and advisers in high circles were jewish or conversos, from the purges of 1390-14-15. This was resented by Catholic nobles who basically wanted their positions. In a massive juggling game of keeping everybody happy, they sort of acquiesced as the powerful clergy imposed ever-more draconian laws. Sort of 'not me guv' is the attitude that came over

But there are other aspects. Perez in his history of the jews in Spain asserts that more radical rabbis were making a serious effort to re-convert conversos who had been 'Catholic' since those previous purges (their families obviously not them) in a counter to the radical anti-jewish preachers going about. I think they thought they were invincible and protected by the laws. But this became so much of a problem in Sevilla that Ferdinand lost his patience and imposed the first real practices of the Spanish Inquisition in Sevilla.

Everything sort of snowballed from there.

The next issue (going forward) was that, the law being the law, jewish practices were banned. But many jews continued - or were maliciously accused of - practising their own religion in private, in secret. And this is in fact where most of the heart-rending grief came from in the next decades. Jews who did not obey Ferdinands ultimatum to leave Spain or convert in 1492 were the target of much persecution. Lets not forget the Inquisition had no authority over jews as such, all it's authority was over conversos - jews (or muslims for that matter) who were SUPPOSED to be Catholic but apparently weren't. Strangely the Inquisition was actually quite fair in it's application of the law. I have record of the Tribunal at Jaen in this period. The main issue is that the jails were rather unhealthy and surviving to trial, especially without food from your family - was a bit of a lottery. I always thought digging up guilty corpses and burning them, was a bit odd

But - just as with moriscos after the Alpujarra rebellions and the expulsions - those with money and enough influence were still out there, living with Spanish names assuming an incognito place in Catholic society - and being VERY good Catholics. It's about who you are and how much money you have. Some of the historical novels of Toti Martinez de Lezea (available in English I think) touch on all the heartbreak and shullduggery involved - there's one called the Calle de la Juderia

Incidentally 'Franco' is one of the names commonly adopted by jewish conversos, but that's the only hint that El Caudillo might have 500 year old jewish ancestry - but there's no reason why his family wouldn't have just converted to Catholicism and melted into society forever, as many did

Would you die for the sake of your faith?? I am not religious but would gladly die for a cause - but not take my family with me. Faced with Ferdinand's ultimatum I would have undoubted taken my wife and kids and become a good Catholic overnight. But that's not acknowledging the hold that a strict jewish upbringing has on those people

Footnote - the Spanish Inquisition was created because Ferdinand at the time had a special hold on the Pope, because of the insecurity in Italy and the support of Aragonese forces, which would increase with time and include Castillian. Poltically he became allowed to choose his own bishops and create the Inquisition - something nobody else was ever allowed.

The Inquisition process would first ask accused people to write a list of 'enemies' - anyone who may have a reason to falsely denounce them. If the name of the accuser appeared on this list then the case was dismissed and the accuser may face questioning - a bit of a deterrent to direct false accusation.

Guilty people (first offence) could repent, say how sorry they were and wear a sambenito round their nacks on Sunday outside church for a set period - a week to a year. Some people could be found not guilty by witness evidence - often it was found that one member of a family be guilty, another not.

The real serious cases - where the Inquisition gets it's name - were those who told them to go to hell and did not repent - burnt at the stake in the traditional manner
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,616
Portugal
#5
Why Did Queen Isabella Hate Jews?
Princess Of Manchester,

I would like to raise a question that is previous to yours.

When you ask why Queen Isabel I hated Jews you presuppose already that she hated Jews. But… did she really hated the Jews?

Do you base this assumption in what? Any biography that you read about her? Any source, primary or secondary?
 
Nov 2010
7,266
Cornwall
#6
Princess Of Manchester,

I would like to raise a question that is previous to yours.

When you ask why Queen Isabel I hated Jews you presuppose already that she hated Jews. But… did she really hated the Jews?

Do you base this assumption in what? Any biography that you read about her? Any source, primary or secondary?
Good point - she had an unusual number of jewish advisors etc. Political expediency took over. And Ferdinands willpower. I'm sure both would have had a tinge of sadness if they both weren't so ruthless (see Machiavelli)
 
#7
Good point - she had an unusual number of jewish advisors etc. Political expediency took over. And Ferdinands willpower. I'm sure both would have had a tinge of sadness if they both weren't so ruthless (see Machiavelli)
I like Borgia family a lot. And I've noticed that's typically a plot point in a book or show about them, due to their ties to the House Of Aragon, via Juan and Gioffre due to Juan's dukedom, and Gioffre becoming a prince via marriage. So, that's why I questioned it. :)
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,616
Portugal
#8
I like Borgia family a lot. And I've noticed that's typically a plot point in a book or show about them, due to their ties to the House Of Aragon, via Juan and Gioffre due to Juan's dukedom, and Gioffre becoming a prince via marriage. So, that's why I questioned it. :)
A book novel or a TV show it isn’t the best source.

The Borgia (Borja) were originally from Valencia, Crown of Aragon, but if I recall correctly they were never related with Isabel I.

At that time the crown of Naples had family connections with Fernando II of Aragon, they were of the same House, the Trastámara (well also related to Isabel trough Juan I). But I don’t see why the jump to assume that Isabel I hated the Jews, and formulating the question with that assumption.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,616
Portugal
#9
She was in tune with her times. She lived during the Inquisition - which was Europe-wide, not just in Spain.
That is not entirely correct. The Inquisition had never existed in Castile and was inactive in Aragon by the late of the 15th century (see for instance: A History of the Inquisition of Spain, Volume 1, Chapter 4, Henry Charles Lea).

The Spanish inquisition created by the Catholic monarchs, was a different institution of the Medieval Inquisitions, and preceded the Portuguese and Roman Inquisition. So basically when Isabel I became a queen in the sequence of the Civil War, the Medieval inquisitions were a dying procedure and the Early Modern still didn’t existed.
 
#10
Why Did Queen Isabella Hate Jews?
A question with a complicated answer, though it could be summed up as:

1: Jews, until recently, were a people without a land. This meant that they had to live wherever they were welcome (or not so welcome).

2: Because of Jewish culture and history, Jews have remained largely unassimilated wherever they lived. On one hand it has been a very successful strategy. (Where are the Visigoths or the Gauls today?) On the other hand it was a strategy that marked them as outsiders and foreigners.

3: Because of their status as outsiders, as well as cultural and inheritable factors, Jews tended to make a living in intellectual professions such as moneylending and trading. This meant that they were easily accused of usury and exploitation. In the Czars Russia, Jews were accused of causing alcoholism and exploiting farmers. In both Poland and Nazi Germany, the Jewish concentration in universities, journalism, business and medicine were a cause of criticism.
 

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