By Jonathan S. Ray
Honorary point out for the 2014 Medieval and Early sleek Jewish background part ebook award provided through the organization for Jewish Studies
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Extra resources for After Expulsion: 1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry
They would retain their pragmatic faith in royal protection even after their expulsion. It is tempting to chart the various outbreaks of violence and anti-Jewish decrees along a chronological line leading back from 1492. However, it does not appear that medieval Jews read these events with the same sense of foreboding. Violence against Jews, both latent and manifest, was a disturbing but nonetheless endemic part of medieval life, plaguing every generation of Jews. Like all medieval peoples, the Jews sought to limit their exposure to such attacks, but accepted their lot with a pragmatic mix of active defense, patience, and resignation.
The first was the relationship between local Muslim authorities and local Jews, including many who were of European provenance, which had developed over the course of the fifteenth century. The second was the prevailing atmosphere of political instability and economic hardship that gripped the region for much of the sixteenth century. During the fifteenth century, the general condition of North African Jewry was that of a relatively prosperous and protected minority. A Genoese merchant who visited the Maghrebi oasis of Tamantit in 1447 noted: “There are many Jews who lead a good life here, for they are under the protection of the several rulers, each of who defends his own clients.
Sadly, their time of troubles was only just beginning. North Africa In retrospect, it is tempting to contrast the mass conversion of the Jews in Portugal with the relatively open welcome they received in the Ottoman Empire, and from thence to draw conclusions about the relative treatment of religious minorities in the early modern Christian and Muslim worlds. However, such generalizations are, at best, premature with regard to the sixteenth century. In the first decade following the Spanish Expulsion, the Ottoman lands of the eastern Mediterranean remained distant and inaccessible for the vast majority of the refugees.