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1391 - 1415 BIRTH OF THE CONVERSOS (Marranos) (Spain)

Between those years as many as 200,000 ( half the Jewish population) chose conversion and became New Christians or Conversos. Of these, many continued to practice Judaism in secret while paying lip service to the Church. They became known by the Christians as Marranos. The Jews never used the term Marrano themselves although some knew of it. Many scholars have speculated that the origins of the word stemmed from Latin, Arabic and even Hebrew, but in fact it was the Spanish term for pig or pork and expression of extreme disgust on the part of the Christians. The Jews referred to themselves as anusim "those who were forced to convert". Eventually, these mass forced conversions led to the establishment of the Inquisition.


Began in Seville and were led by Ferrand Martinez Archdeacon of Ecija who incited mobs into attacking the Jewish quarter during holy week. Although the riots were forcibly put down, they soon reappeared with a vengeance (see June 6, 1391) eventually they spread throughout most of Spain.


Led by Archdeacon Ferrand Martinez ( see march 15, 1391) the campaign soon spread through 70 towns especially in Castile, Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia. Only Granada was spared. The Jewish quarter in Barcelona, located for over 400 years near the castle, was totally destroyed. Over 10,000 Jews were killed, and thousands more converted.

1391 June 20, ISRAEL BEN JOSEPH AL NEKAWA “Elnekaveh” (Toledo)

An aged poet and scholar was dragged through the streets. He preferred to take his own life rather than convert . He was joined in martyrdom by his brother Solomon and Judah ben Asher II a noted scholar and astronomer (the great grandson of Asher Ben Jehiel (see 1250). Al Nekawa was a noted scholar his chief work on ethics was Menorat ha-Maor (Shining Candelabra) . He believed that social morality as a intrinsic part of Jewish life. His book is especially valued since he quotes from many books which are not extant today.

1391 July 9, VALENCIA (Spain)

The violence, which had begun a month earlier by Ferrand Martinez (see June 6), continued in the province of Valencia. A mob marched to the main gate of the Juderia on the Place de la Figuera, shouting," The Archdeacon of Seville comes to baptize all Jews". Although they mounted a defense the Jewish community was destroyed The synagogue became a monastery (S. Cristobal) and 250 Jews massacred. Many others, including the King's physician, Joshua (Ha)Lorki later to be infamously known as Geronimo de Santa Fe, converted to Christianity. A few found refuge in the houses of their Christian neighbors. Few of the perpetrators were ever punished ( see November 1391).

1391 July 10, PALMA DE MAJORCA

As news of the Spanish riots reached Majorca, riots broke out all over the island. Despite the efforts of Francisco Sa Garriga, the local viceroy, the entire Jewish community was destroyed and its inhabitants were either converted or murdered. Over 110 families converted, and the remnants fled to North Africa. Although a number of Jews were again invited to reside there the following year, a blood libel 40 years later ended the 800 year old Jewish community.

1391 July 16, VALENCIA (Spain)

King John I ordered that all Jews who had hidden in Christian houses be allowed to return to their homes unmolested. Furthermore, he decreed that synagogues were not to be turned into churches. This did not prevent him from confiscating all the property of those Jews who had either fled or been murdered.

1391 August 5, BARCELONA (Spain)

Although the city fathers and artisans tried to protect them, more than 400 Jews were killed in attacks instigated, for the most part, by Castilians who had taken part in the massacres in Seville and Valencia.

1391 November, PARDONS FOR RIOTERS (Valencia Spain)

Was granted by King John I of Aragon upon the recommendation of his wife Queen Yolande to those who had rioted against the Jews. The king declared the city leaders, the clergy, and most of the rioters innocent, commenting that no royal personnel were killed and that the Jews themselves were not blameless. Only five rioters were executed. After the riots no Jew was permitted to enter Valencia without permission. In general, most of the cities were fined, and a few of the perpetrators hung or banished. The Jewish communities never recovered.

1392 DAMASCUS (Syria)

Local Jews were accused by the Mamluk ruler of setting fire to the central mosque. Though no real evidence was ever presented, a number of Jewish leaders were arrested, one was burned alive, and the synagogue was converted into a mosque. Two years later the synagogue was restored.

1392 April 23, LETTER OF PRAISE ( Barcelona)

Was written by King Henry III (1379-1406) and Queen Catherine of Castile to the city of Saragossa for taking efforts to protect the Jews of the city from the riots . The king had his summer residence in the city.rn

1392 July 17, PORTUGAL

King John (Joao I) (1385-1432) ordered compliance with the Bull of Pope Boniface IX protecting Jews from forced baptism and extended it to Spanish Jewish refugees.

1393 August 18, KING JOHN I (Spain)

In an effort to prevent "backsliding" by converted Jews, he prohibited them from living in the same quarter as unconverted Jews or even eating with them.

1394 September 17, CHARLES VI (France)

Using the pretense that a convert in Paris, Denis Machuit, returned to Judaism, he once again expelled the Jews. The order, signed on Yom Kippur, was enforced on November 3. Jews continued to live in Lyons and papal possessions such as Pugnon.

1398 PAUL OF BURGOS (Spain)

Was appointed by Pope Benedict of Treviño. Paul (c. 1351 – 1435) (aka Pablo de Santa Maria) not to be confused with Abner of Burgos, was the former scholar Solomon Halevi. There is controversy as to whether he converted before or after the riots of 1391. After his conversion, he set as his goal to convert by force as many Jews as possible To that end he instigated anti Jewish legislation known as the Laws of Valladolid ( see 1412). His Dialogus Pauli et Sauli contra Judæos… became a source book for anti Jewish polemics and which was later used by Geronimo de Santa Fé, and Martin Luther. His wife refused to convert and was killed in 1420.


A Christian woman was accused of stealing 3 “hosts” and giving them to Jews for the purpose of desecrating them. Under the instigation of the local Archbishop, the Rabbi, thirteen members of the community and the woman were all tortured and burned alive slowly. The community was forced to pay a special tax each year for more until the 18th century.

1399 JUAN I (Castile, Spain)

Renewed the anti-Jewish decrees of Alfonso XI forbidding Jews to lend money or collect their depts.

1399 August 16, YOM TOV LIPPMAN-MUELHAUSEN ( Prague)

Rabbi and philosopher, was arrested along with other Jews accused of defaming Christianity. Despite his efforts, 77 Jews were killed. This outstanding Jewish scholar, in addition to his extensive knowledge of philosophy, knew Latin, studied the New Testament and was a skilled polemicist. He had previously held dialogues with the Bishop of Linda, which was unusual for its time in that they were held in an atmosphere of tolerance.

C. 1400 ISAAC ABOHAB I(Spain)

Scholar and author of Menorat ha-Maor ("Candlestick of Light") a collection of Aggadot arranged according to the subject. The book published in more than 70 editions and in at least 5 languages, remains popular today. His objective was to return the knowledge of the Aggadah or Midrashic lore to the common people. He also wrote Aron ha-'Edut ("The Ark of the Testimony") tracing ritual laws and Shulḥan ha-Panim ("Table of the Showbread").

1400 - 1480 ISRAEL BRUNA (Germany)

Rabbi and Halachic scholar, aka Mahari Bruna, the Hebrew acronym for "Our Teacher, the Rabbi, Israel Bruna". He studied under Israel Isserlin, and is known for his work Teshuvot Mahari Bruna which is one of the important Ashkenazi Halachic resources. Bruna was jailed on a trumped up ritual murder charge by an Jewish apostate Hans Vagol, but was declared innocent by both Frederick III, as well King Ladislav of Bohemia. Vagol later admitted to the perjury.

C. 1400 Yomtov Lippmann ben Shlomo Mühlhausen (Bohemia)

Wrote his Sefer ha-Nitsachon (“Book of Victory”) which served as a defense against Christianity. He survived the massacre in Prague (see 1389). Mühlhausen (d.1421) traveled throughout Bohemia trying to strengthen the local communities, as well as their religious knowledge and understanding.

1400 July 27, KING LADISLAS (Naples, Italy)

Offered the Jews a charter which would give them economic equality.

1402 BANI ISRAEEL (western Africa)

In a manuscript known as the Tarikh al-fattash a Jewish tribe is mentioned which ruled in Tirdirma near the Niger River. They were said to have had over 300 wells and 1500 soldiers. They were known as the Jews of the Bilad al-Sudan.

C. 1403 - 1450 MIRIAM LURIA (SPIRA) (Germany)

Teacher and Talmudic scholar. She was the daughter of Solomon Spira (c. 1375–c. 1453) Known as Rabbanit Miriam she taught at a yeshiva in Italy, and gave public lectures on Halachah. It is said that " because of her beauty", she would teach Talmud to some of the most qualified young men from behind a curtain, so that they would not be distracted. Miriam Luria was the grandmother of Solomon Luria ( Maharshal 1510-1573).

1407 October 26, CRACOW ACCUSATIONS (Poland)

One of the first blood libels in Poland. The Jews tried to defend themselves and were forced to take refuge in the Church of St. Anne, which was surrounded and then set afire. Any children left alive were forcibly baptized.

1408 GRODNO (Lithuania)

Jews received a renewed "Bill of Rights" granting them the opportunity to work as tradesmen and framers.

1408 October 25, COUNCIL OF REGENCY (Castile/Leon, Spain)

Under the inspiration of the apostate Paul de Santa Maria, the council reinstituted all of the anti-Jewish legislation of Alfonso the Wise (1252-1284).

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