The Persecutions of 1391
On July 9, 1391, the community of Valencia was attacked and destroyed by rioters who arrived from Castile and soldiers who were stationed in the port from where they were due to sail for Sicily with the infante Martín. [Jewish Encyclopedia]
In this assault 250 Jews died, while the remainder agreed to convert to Christianity or found refuge in the houses of the townspeople. Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet was among those who fled. Those who converted included distinguished personalities such as Don Samuel Abravalia (who took the name Alfonso Fernández de Villanova after his apostasy), the king’s physician Omar Tahuel, who ranked among the muqaddimūn, and his relative Isaac Tahuel. According to some documents, it seems that R. Isaac b. Sheshet was also among the forcibly converted, before he fled. On July 16 the king ordered that Jews who had hidden in the houses of Christians should not be compelled to convert, but be taken to a place of safety. He also prohibited the conversion of synagogues into churches. However, on September 22 the king instructed that a list of the property of the Jews who had perished should be drawn up, in order to have it transferred to him. In November a pardon was granted to the Christian inhabitants of Valencia for the attack because, according to the city elders, the town was being emptied of its inhabitants who were fleeing in every direction. None of the synagogues of Valencia survived the 1391 massacres. The Jewish market, the zoco, which was just outside the Jewish quarter, was in Gallinas Street, at the beginning of Mar Street. The Jewish cemetery was outside the Jewish quarter but within the walls of the city. At the expulsion it was given by Ferdinand to the Dominicans. In its place today stands the El Corte Inglés department store.
After this destruction, the community proved unable to recover, even though in 1393 the king and the queen entrusted Ḥasdai Crescas and the delegates of the communities of Saragossa and *Calatayud with the task of choosing 60 families who would settle in Barcelona and Valencia. A year later John I ordered that their cemetery should be restored to the Jews of Valencia. A small community may have been reconstituted, because, according to Simeon b. Ẓemaḥ *Duran, there were Jews living in Valencia at the close of the century (Responsa, Yakhin u-Vo’az, pt. 2, paras. 14–15).
In 1413 Vicente *Ferrer is known to have endeavored to convert Jews in Valencia, but these may have been concentrated in localities in the vicinity. Only Jewish merchants continued to visit the town. In 1483 King *Ferdinand canceled the permission given to the Jews for prolonged stays in Valencia. He also abolished the privilege exempting Jews who came there from wearing a distinctive *badge.
Prayer: Lord, again we read of the terrible treatment Jews and Jewish Christians received at the hands of so-called Christians. Father, forgive, they know not what they do. In Yeshua’s name. Amen.
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