Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Day in History March 31, 1492

If you are like me, you know about Queen Isabella mainly because she and King Ferdinand financed Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World in 1492.  That is one of those stories that most of us know.  However, you may not know about something that happened on this date in 1492 that does not seem quite so nice.

During this time period, Spain was quite diverse.  It consisted of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  Some Jews converted to Christianity to avoid persecution.  As you might imagine, these "converted" Jews often still practiced Judaism in secret.  It was important to the monarchy to be unified, and so Catholicism became the only acceptable religion.  The Inquisition was one way this was enforced.

On this date in 1492, the Alhambra Decree was enacted.  This called for the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and 200,000 ultimately did leave.  This decree stated that these Jews had to leave by the end of July or face death and the confiscation of all their property.  Many Jews died as they attempted to leave often at the hands of Spanish ship captains who charged exorbitant sums, threw the Jews overboard, and knifed them to death due to rumors of Jews swallowing gold and diamonds.

Honestly, this is the first time I have ever heard about this horrible decree.  I have often heard about how Jews have been persecuted throughout the centuries, but somehow this story never reached my ears.  I wonder why it is that we generally only teach about this Spanish king and queen in light of Columbus but fail to mention what else they did that very same year.

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1 comment:

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