Alfonso X of Castile and the Siete Partidas

Las Siete Partidas, a law code written in Castilian and compiled around 1265, under the direction of King Alfonso X, the Wise (1252-1284) of Castile also referred to coerced conversion.

Alfonso X of Castile and the Siete Partidas-DPI

“No force or compulsion shall be employed in any way against a Jew to induce him to become a Christian;but Christians should convert him to the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ by means of the texts of the Holy Scriptures, and by kind words, for no one can love or appreciate a service which is done him by compulsion. We also decree that if any Jew or Jewess should voluntarily desire to become a Christian, the other Jews shall not interfere with this in any way, and if they stone, wound, or kill any such person, because he wished to become a Christian, or after he has been baptized, and this can be proved; we order that all the murderers, or the abettors of said murder or attack, shall be burned. [This law was first issued by Constantine the Great in 315] But where the party was not killed, but wounded, or dishonored; we order the judges of the neighborhood where this took place shall compel those guilty of the attack, or who caused the dishonor, to make amends to him for the same; and also that they be punished for the offence which the committed, as they think they deserve; and we also order that, after any Jews become Christians, all persons in our dominions shall honor them; and that no one shall dare to reproach them or their descendants, by way of insult, with having been Jews; and that they shall possess all their property, sharing the same with their brothers and inheriting it from their fathers and mothers and other relatives just as if they were Jews; and that they can hold all offices and dignities which other Christians can do.”[1]

Interestingly, the Las Siete Partidas were not adopted as authoritative law until at around 1348. This was a little more than 40 years before the violence of 1391 which transformed the Iberian Peninsula forever and spelled the doom of the Jewish community.

[1] Jacob Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook, 315-1791 (New York: JPS, 1938), 34-42.

Posted by Rabbi Juan Bejarano Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education and the author of  Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism.

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