Conversos and Identity (poems of Comendador Román and Antón de Montoro, excerpts from Andrés Bernáldez’s Memorias and the Libro de Alborayque (late 15th century)

Conversos and Identity (poems of Comendador Román and Antón de Montoro, excerpts from Andrés Bernáldez’s Memorias and the Libro de Alborayque (late 15th century)

This is a pedagogical edition of the medieval Castilian texts with English introduction, translation, notes, and bibliography by Ana Gómez Bravo, of a series of excerpts of late fifteenth-century texts related to the cultural practices (perceived and actual) of judeo-conversos, or Jews who have converted to Christianity.

It includes an introduction providing historical and cultural context, selections of the anti-converso verse of Diego Román (d. ca. 1490), poetry of converso poet Antón de Montoro (d. 1483), and excerpts from historian Andrés Bernáldez’s (d. 1513) Memorias and the anonymous anti-converso treatise Libro del Alborayque or Book of Alborayque.

This unit is part of Open Iberia/América, an online, open-access teaching anthology of texts from the premodern Hispanic world. https://openiberiaamerica.hcommons.org/ This file is the .rtf formatted English version, with introduction and notes in English, and the text in facing medieval Castilian/English translation.

[English version] [[Spanish version]

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Ferrán Martínez’s speech at the Tribunal del Alcázar in Seville, 19 February, 1388

Ferrán Martínez’s speech at the Tribunal del Alcázar in Seville, 19 February, 1388

This unit contains a brief introduction (English), edition of the original Castilian text with facing English translation and notes, and a short bibliography.

The text is the first English translation from the medieval Castilian of Ferrán Martínez’s speech at the royal court in Seville in 1388. Martínez was a canon at the Cathedral Chapter and the archdeacon of Écija, who was later held responsible for the attack on the Jews of Seville in June 1391. The Jewish community initiated a lawsuit against the archdeacon in an attempt to stop Martínez’s virulently anti-Jewish preaching. The proceedings took place over the course of two days, 11 and 19 February, before the gates of the royal Alcázar.

The text picks up the narrative at the end of the first day and continues with the events of the second day, when the archdeacon delivered a speech in his own defense. Since none of his sermons have survived, the speech provides a rare glimpse into Martínez’s inflammatory rhetoric. Its consequences were tragic: in the summer of 1391, anti-Jewish violence spread from Seville to other parts of Spain, leading to thousands of forced conversions and deaths.

Types of courses where the text might be useful: History (medieval, Jewish, Iberian, anti-Semitism), Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Sephardic Studies, Hispanic Languages and Literatures. It might also be useful to scholars in affiliated fields who do not necessarily focus on medieval Iberia.

[English version] [Spanish version]

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Isaac Cardoso, Las excelencias de los hebreos (Amsterdam 1679)

Las excelencias de los hebreos (Amsterdam 1679) is a treatise describing the positive characteristics (excelencias) of the Jewish people and a containing a refutation of common anti-Jewish calumnies (calunias) written by Isaac Cardoso (b. Fernando Cardoso, Trancoso, Portugal 1603 – d. Verona, Italy 1683). Excelencias is an apology or pro-Jewish treatise meant to educate its readers on Jewish history and practice, and to combat typical anti-Jewish ideas that were very widespread in Europe since the Middle Ages, and that persist to this day.

In this excerpt, the tenth and last of the calumnies leveled at leveled at Jews that he addresses in the work, Cardoso refutes the blood libel often aimed at aimed at Jewish communities living in majority Christian societies from the Middle ages to the present day. This is the accusation that Jews murder Christian children and use their blood to make the unleavened bread that is eaten ritually on the holiday of Pesach, or Passover.

As Cardoso explains in this text, these accusations are in contradiction to Jewish law, which forbids the consumption of blood of any sort, and condemns murder and human sacrifice in no uncertain terms. It is also worth pointing out that the accusation of drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a human sacrifice is structurally similar to the sacrament of communion, in which believing Catholics drink wine that according to the doctrine of transubstantiation has become the blood of Christ, and eat a wafer that according to the same doctrine has become his flesh. No such parallel is to be found, however, in Jewish ritual.

English version [doc]

Spanish version [doc]

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