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ENMITY AND ASSIMILATION: Jews, Christians, and Converts in Medieval Spain

ENMITY AND ASSIMILATION: Jews, Christians, and Converts in Medieval Spain Page 137 ENMITY AND ASSIMILATION Jews, Christians, and Converts in Medieval Spain David In the year 1391, Christians in the lands we now call Spain witnessed a miracle so great that it seemed to some a harbinger of the messiah.1 In town after town across the peninsula, mobs of rioters attacked the Jews. This was not in itself miraculous. The miracle resided in the fact that, although thousands of Jews were killed, many thousands more converted to Christianity. Their conversion, long a dream of Spanish Christians, had been equally long despaired of — and its miraculous nature was abundantly clear. In the city of Valencia, for example, so many Jews sought baptism that the clergy feared running out of chrism; then suddenly, the priests found their vessels so overflowing that they were able to resume their work. “Consider for yourself,” the town council of Valencia wrote the king, “whether these things can have a natural cause. We believe that they cannot, but can only be the work of the Almighty.”2 If in the 1390s these conversions (the most extensive in the Middle Ages) were seen as miraculous, by the 1450s many Christians were beginning to consider them a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

ENMITY AND ASSIMILATION: Jews, Christians, and Converts in Medieval Spain

Common Knowledge , Volume 9 (1) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-9-1-137
Publisher site
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Abstract

Page 137 ENMITY AND ASSIMILATION Jews, Christians, and Converts in Medieval Spain David In the year 1391, Christians in the lands we now call Spain witnessed a miracle so great that it seemed to some a harbinger of the messiah.1 In town after town across the peninsula, mobs of rioters attacked the Jews. This was not in itself miraculous. The miracle resided in the fact that, although thousands of Jews were killed, many thousands more converted to Christianity. Their conversion, long a dream of Spanish Christians, had been equally long despaired of — and its miraculous nature was abundantly clear. In the city of Valencia, for example, so many Jews sought baptism that the clergy feared running out of chrism; then suddenly, the priests found their vessels so overflowing that they were able to resume their work. “Consider for yourself,” the town council of Valencia wrote the king, “whether these things can have a natural cause. We believe that they cannot, but can only be the work of the Almighty.”2 If in the 1390s these conversions (the most extensive in the Middle Ages) were seen as miraculous, by the 1450s many Christians were beginning to consider them a

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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