Christian edict against the Jews of Spain
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On March 30, 1492 AD, Queen Isabella of Castille and King Ferdinand II of Aragon issued the Alhambra Decree, ordering 150,000 Spanish Jews to convert to Christianity within three months, or face expulsion. This happened less than three months after the occupation of the Muslim emirate of Granada and the famous al-Hamra (Red Palace) by the Christians, who were notorious for their anti-Semitism, which means persecution of both Arabs and Israelites.
Jews had been living for several centuries under Muslim rule in Islamic Spain as "People of the Book"' and were given special status. Some of them had rose in the social hierarchy to become scholars and ministers. But with the gradual occupation of Islamic Spain by the Christian rulers, both Muslims and Jews found themselves persecuted and such measures were prevalent throughout Europe.
The punishment for any Jew who did not convert or leave by the deadline was death. The punishment for a non-Jew who sheltered or hid Jews was the confiscation of all belongings and hereditary privileges. Other Spanish Jews (estimates range between 50,000 and 70,000) chose to avoid expulsion by conversion to Christianity.
However, their conversion did not protect them from the Church’s hostility after the Spanish Inquisition came into full effect. Many of these "New Christians" were eventually forced to either leave the countries or intermarry with the local populace by the dual Inquisitions of Portugal and Spain. As a result many Jews migrated to the Muslim lands of North Africa. This edict against the Jews of Spain was in force till 16 December 1968, when the Second Vatican Council cancelled it. It is also worth noting that hundreds of thousands of Spanish Muslims were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain, while hundreds of thousands of others were massacred, and many more expelled.
Jews in Europe
On February 14, 1349 AD, over a thousand Jews were publicly burned to death by Christian mobs while the remainder of their population was forcibly driven away from the German city of Strasbourg, as part of the pogroms, the Church used to frequently conduct against the followers of Judaism in Europe, at a time when Jews living in Islamic lands enjoyed all the freedom and privileges of Muslims, even rising to post of ministers. The massacre followed the deadly bubonic plague of 1348 which was blamed on the presence of Jews in Christian lands.
The practices and behaviour of the Jews was also partly responsible for such massacres, because the Jews played the role of money-lenders and manipulated the economy, which brought about serious problems. European chroniclers report that the Jews were so arrogant that they were unwilling to grant anyone else precedence, and those who dealt with them, could hardly come to an agreement with them.
This ruthlessness of the Jews, coupled with their slandering of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and his Virgin mother, Mary (peace upon her), used to be the reason for their frequent massacres by Christians in Europe. Until the beginning of the 18th century, Jews were forbidden to remain in town in any European country after 10 pm, and heavy taxes were levied on them, including a special tax to be paid for any horse that a Jew would ride or bring into the city.