1480 - 1554 JOSEL (JOSEPH) OF ROSHEIM (Germany)
Shtadlan (Court Jew) of Germany. The Shtadlan's job was to intercede with the authorities on behalf of the Jews. In 1514 he and other Jews were charged with torturing the host but were released. Josel dedicated himself to intervening with various rulers. In 1520 he succeeded in obtaining a letter from Charles V protecting the Jews. He published a defense against the attacks of Martin Luther. Josel succeeded in blocking anti-Jewish legislation and defending Jews against charges of ritual murder countless times.
1480 ISRAEL NATHAN (Italy)
Founded the Hebrew printing house of Soncino in Soncino, Italy. Their first book, printed in 1483 under the direction of his son, Joshua Solomon, was a volume of the Talmud (Tractate Brachot). A Bible with vowels was printed with over 400 illustrations in 1488. In all, more than 130 Hebrew books were printed by their various presses over the next 70 years.
1480 September 17, SEVILLE (Spain)
Two Dominican friars were commissioned by Pope Sixtus to begin "investigations" into heresy charges against the conversos in Spain.
The first order was for all noblemen to denounce lapsed
conversos to the Inquisition. Between 1481 and 1488, approximately 700 men and women
were burned at the stake, and approximately 5000 were forced to "repent."
1481 ERETZ ISRAEL
Joseph di Montagna, a traveler from Italy, reported a thriving community of 300 families in Safed.
1481 February 12, FIRST AUTO DA FE (Seville, Spain)
Six Marrano men and six women were burned alive for allegedly practicing Judaism. The Auto da Fe (Act of Faith) combined the Judicial ceremony of the Inquisition with vociferous sermons. An individual could be denounced for having lapsed back into his old religion or committing heresy. Although the Inquisition and the Auto da Fe was used on anyone accused of heresy, its main victims were Jews. The inquisition accused people of backsliding or heresy for actions such as not eating pig (for whatever reason), washing hands before prayer, changing clothes on the Sabbath, etc. Over two thousand Auto da Fes are said to have taken place in the Iberian Peninsula and its colonies. The number of victims in Spain alone is estimated at 39,912, many of whom were burned alive. Some were burned in effigy. Others, convicted posthumously, were dug up and burned - and the property they left was confiscated from their heirs. Approximately 340,000 people, many of them Jews, suffered at the hands of the Inquisition, although the vast majority were given lesser punishments. The last Auto da Fe was held in 1790.
1482 January, POPE SIXTUS III
Denounced the Inquisition as cruel.
1483 - 1485 CUIDAD REAL TRIALS (Spain)
Typical of the trials of the Inquisition, many of the prime witnesses were members of the accused's own family. Fernan Falcon voluntarily testified against many people in the community, including his father. The son of Carolina de Zamora, a monk, swore to see her burned. Juan de la Sierra convinced his mother, Leonor Gonzales, to return to Spain from Portugal. Upon her return she was tortured and burned.
1483 October 17, POPE SIXTUS III (Spain)
Despite his previous protest, Pope Sixtus III gave into Ferdinand's pressure and extended the authority of the Inquisition to Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia. This consolidated the Inquisition into one central body under Torquemada.
1483 December 19, SONCINO (Italy)
The first tractate of the Talmud (Brachot) was printed by Joshua Soncino. It included Rashi, Tosafot, Piskei Tosafot, and the commentaries of Maimonides and Mordecai b. Hillel.
1484 April 8, ARLES (France)
Local farmers, led by the town's monks, attacked the Jewish section of the town. A number of people were killed and 50 men were forced to accept Christianity.
1485 CRACOW (Poland)
The municipal council "recommended" that the Jewish community "of their own free will" agree to renounce its rights to trades and crafts which would compete with the Christian population - they agreed.
1485 September 17, PEDRO ARBUES (Spain)
The infamous inquisitor of Aragon was slain. Appointed by Torquemada, he was zealous in finding lapsed "new Christians" to bring before the Inquisition and have them burned alive. He was murdered in church by a group of Marranos in retaliation for his actions against their families. The perpetrators were caught, had their hands cut off, and were then beheaded and quartered. Other leaders such as Francisco de Santa Fe committed suicide, or fled to France. Arbues was canonized in 1867.
1486 FIRST PRAYER BOOK (Siddur) Italy)
Was printed in Italy by Soncino. This was the only time that the Siddur was published during the 15th century. For the most part hand-copied manuscripts (of which there were plenty) were used.
1486 February 12, AUTO DA FE AT TOLEDO (Spain)
The first in that city and one of the most lenient Auto da Fes anywhere. The Jews were forced to recant, fined 1/5 of their property and permanently forbidden to wear decent clothes or hold office.
1486 December 10, AUTO DA FE AT TOLEDO (Spain)
This time more than 900 people were persecuted and humiliated at the Auto da Fe. Though many suffered on the forced penitential marches, no one was actually killed.
1488 FIRST HEBREW BIBLE (Italy)
Was printed at Soncino.
1488 OVADIA DI BERTINORO (Italy-Eretz Israel)
Arrived in Eretz Israel. As a scholar in Italy he wrote a commentary on the Mishna. In Israel he started a yeshiva and other benevolent institutions and improved Moslem-Jewish relations. He thus helped pave the way for the integration of the Spanish refugees soon to arrive.
1488 - 1575 (13 Nissan 5335) JOSEPH CARO (Safed)
A student of the Ari, he published his code of Jewish laws in 1567 after thirty-two years of work on Rav Jacob ben Asher's Arbah Turim. He called his work the Bet Yoseph (House of Joseph). It is better known as the Shulchan Aruch (Prepared Table) since it made every Jewish law available to everyone. Unfortunately, like Maimonides, he was criticized for placing religious growth in "hibernation". His death marked the end of the Rishonim (first commentators) and the beginning of the period of the Acharonim (last) - which continues to the present time.