The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain

BookThe Expulsion of the Jews from Spain

The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


June 30th, 2005



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The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain is a detailed study of the events surrounding this infamous chapter in Spanish history. Based on hundreds of documents discovered, deciphered, and analyzed during decades of intensive archival research, this work focuses on the practical consequences of the expulsion both for those expelled and those remaining behind. It responds to basic questions such as: What became of property owned by Jewish individuals and communities? What became of outstanding debts between Jews and Christians? How was the edict of expulsion implemented? Who was in charge? How did they operate? What happened to those who converted to Christianity in order to remain in Spain or return to that country? The material summarized and analyzed in this study also sheds light on Jewish life in Spain preceding the expulsion. For example, Jews are shown to have been present in remote villages where they were not hitherto known to have lived, and documents detailing lawsuits between Christians related to debts left behind by Jews reveal much about business and financial relations between Jews and Christians. By focusing on the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in such detail - for example, by naming the magistrates who presided over the confiscation of Jewish communal property - Professor Beinart takes history out of the realm of abstraction and gives it concrete reality.

‘Magisterial . . . provides insights, descriptions, and interpretations built on an impregnable base of scholarship . . This sine qua non for any study and understanding of the vents leading up to 1492 deserves an honoured place in all serious libraries.’ Stephen D. Benin, Choice

‘Haim Beinart justifiably has been hailed as the foremost historian of medieval Sepharad . . . the data uncovered [here] will remain a source for many future generations of historians of the Jews of medieval Iberia. For that alone, we are indebted to this monumental contribution.’
Benjamin R. Gampel, AJS Review

‘The most comprehensive study of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. It summarizes and synthesizes the author’s decades-long work in Spanish archives . . . indispensable for the study of Spanish Jewry and is a valuable addition to any university library.’  Morris M. Faierstein, Religious Studies Review

‘An in-depth analysis of one of the most dramatic events in the history of the Jews . . . an extremely useful repository of detailed information that can be found nowhere else in English.’  Yvonne Petry, Renaissance Studies

Review for the Hebrew Edition of the book:‘The importance of this new book lies in its methodical and detailed portrayal of the expulsion from Spain in 1492 in all its aspects—political, social, economic, legal, and also human. It presents wide-ranging descriptions of the problems and the dilemmas facing families and individuals in both large and small communities . . . and of how events actually unfolded, day by day and hour by hour. The thoroughness of the presentation, documented in every detail, is the product of decades of methodical and comprehensive historiographic research covering all the areas in which Jews lived in the entire period over which the expulsion took place . . . Beinart's historiographic reconstruction gives the contemporary reader a palpable understanding of what actually happened.’  Ben-Ami Feingold, Yediot Aharonot

Author Information

Haim Beinart is an emeritus professor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has more than three hundred publications to his credit, almost all of them dealing with the history of the Jews in Spain in the Middle Ages and their subsequent expulsion. He was elected to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 1981 and has received many other prizes and honours for his scholarly work, including the Ruppin Prize (1966), the Isaac Ben-Zvi Award (1976), the Wiznitzer Prize for the best book published in Jewish History (1981), and the Tri-Cultural Prize of the University of Cordova (1981). In 1989 he became a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Complutense University of Madrid and in 1992 a Dr. Lit. of the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He has held visiting professorships in Berne, London, Lucerne, and Princeton, and a visiting fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford.