The Last Openly Practicing Jews in Spanish Territories

In 1497 and in 1498, the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of Navarre followed the Castilian and Aragonese examples with their own expulsion decrees. On the 5th of September 1499, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued the following proclamation: “Cualquier Judio de cualquier origen, que fuere hallado en Espana, seria condenado a muerte y ejecutado, a menosque previamente hubiese dado a conocer su intention de convertirse al Cristianismo.” The English translation is “Any Jew from any place, as may be found in Spain, would be sentenced to death and executed, unless he had previously indicated its intention to convert to Christianity.”

Interestingly, Jews were to be found in various Spanish holdings in North Africa into the 17th century as Spanish control expanded. Jewish communities existed in at least five Spanish North African strongholds under Spanish control. These included Oran, Cueta, Tangiers, Larache (Al-Araish), and Mazagan.



The “tolerance was not to last. In 1669, an edict of expulsion was issued to the Jews of Oran. The last openly practicing Jews within Spanish territories ended 177 years after the initial decree of 1492.

For another post on the Expulsion, see The Primary Reason for the Expulsion of Jews from Spain.

1. Yolanda Quesada Morillas “La expulsión de los judíos andaluces a finales del siglo xv y su
prohibición de pase a Indias” Actas del I Congreso Internacional sobre Migraciones en Andalucía (2011): 2099.
2. Ibid., 2101.
3. Jonathan Israel, “The Jews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669,” Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England xxvi (1979):71.

By Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education and author of What is Kosher?

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