Spanish city; capital of the province of the same name; famous for its university. The Jews of Salamanca rendered valuable services to King Ferdinand II. of Leon during the war against the King of Castile in 1169, and in return were granted (in 1170) equal rights and liberties with the Christian inhabitants ("Fuero de Salamanca," tit. ccclxii.). The town council was ordered to protect and, if necessary, to defend the Jews; and for this protection a yearly tax of 15 morabetinos was imposed on the latter. They were not, however, spared during the persecutions of 1391.
In 1412 Vicente Ferrer preached in Salamanca, his sermons having for their object the conversion of the Jews; and such of the latter as were baptized there called themselves "Vicentinos." The large synagogue was at that time transformed into a church to which was given the name "Vera Cruz," and afterward into a college of the Brothers of Charity. At the entrance to this college the following Latin verses were displayed:
"Antiquum coluit vetus hoc Sinagoga sacellum, At nunc est verae religionis sacrum: Judaeo expulso, primus Vincentius istam Lustravit pura religione domum. Fulgens namque jubar subito descendit Olimpo, Cunctisque impressit pectora signa Crucis. Judaei trahunt cives Vicentii nomina multi, Et templum hoc Verae dicitur inde Crucis."
The Jews of the city were in grave danger from a ritual-murder accusation which was made against them in 1456. On a Christian holiday, presumably Easter, the little son of a rich merchant ("filho de hum rrico mercador"), adorned with golden trinkets, had left his home. The child was lured out of town by robbers, who, after stealing the valuables, murdered him and buried the body in a secluded spot. After a long, vain search for the boy a reward was publicly offered for any information concerning him. Some days later certain shepherds came with their cattle to the place where the corpse was buried, and their dogs, scratching the earth, uncovered an arm and brought it to their masters, who exhibited it in the town. The father and relatives of the murdered child, together with other citizens, on proceeding to the place where the arm had been found, discovered the rest of the remains. The populace, inspired by hatred of the Jews, proclaimed without further investigation that the child had been killed by the latter, who, they asserted, had taken out the heart, fried it, and partaken of it as food. The relatives of the child, together with many others, soon armed themselves in order to attack the Jews. The king, however, hearing of the affair, ordered a thorough investigation, and the innocence of the Jews was finally established through the evidence of the goldsmith to whom the murderers had sold the trinkets taken from the slain boy (S. Usque, "Consolaçam as Tribulaçoens de Ysrael," p. 189b; also Joseph ha-Kohen, "'Emeḳ ha-Baka," pp. 77 et seq.). In 1492 the Jews of Salamanca, who had been so numerous that they, together with those of Ciudad-Rodrigo, paid 7,800 maravedis in taxes for the year 1474, emigrated, mostly to Portugal.
In Salamanca lived Rabbi Menahem ben Ḥayyim ha-Aruk, otherwise Longo (d. 1425), and the Talmudist Moses ben Benjamin and his son Isaac, both of whom maintained a correspondence with Isaac b. Sheshet. Salamanca was also the birthplace of the mathematician and astronomer Abraham Zacuto, who lectured at the university there.
- Rios, Hist. i. 333 et seq., ii. 430 et seq.;
- Lindo, History of the Jews in Spain, p. 90;
- A. de Castro, Historia de los Judios en España, p. 98;
- Isaac ben Sheshet, Responsa, Nos. 229 et seq., 241, 296, 327, 330, 335 et seq.