CIUDAD REAL (formerly Villa Real):
Capital of the former province of La Mancha (now the province of Ciudad Real) in New Castile, founded in 1255 by Don Alfonso X. of Castile. Among its first inhabitants were Jews as well as Moors, the former of whom, chiefly from the neighboring Alarcos, settled in such numbers that as early as 1290 the Jewry paid 26,486 maravedis in taxes, a sum larger than that paid by all the other inhabitants together. Like the Moors, the Jews had their own quarter, apartfrom the Christians. This Jewry extended from the eastern part of the city, between the gates De la Mata and De Calatrava, along the wall to the west as far as the Calle de la Paloma or De Leganitos, as it is called in all documents; on the north and the south it was bounded by the streets De Calatrava and Lanza, as well as the street De la Mata. It formed a large square which was divided from west to east into two unequal parts by the Jews' street proper, or the Calle de la Juderia. The Jews' street (which was called "Calle de Barrio Nuevo" after 1391, "Calle de la Inquisicion" after the introduction of the Inquisition, and is now known as the "Calle de la Libertad") had on its right Calle de la Culebra, Calle de Sangre, and Calle de Lobo; on its left, Calle de Tercia, Calle de Combro, and Calle de Refugio. Calle de la Barrera, now called "Compas de S. Domingo," and Calle de la Peña, ran in the direction of the first three streets, the Great Synagogue being situated between them. No traces remain of the other synagogues of Villa Real. The Jewish cemetery (Fonsario de los Judios), having an area of about 3,000 square feet, was situated on the outskirts of the city, between the roads De la Mata and De Calatrava, on the street leading along the Guadiana.Trade of Jews.
The Jews of Villa Real traded extensively in the products of the country and in other goods, which they exposed for sale in the large markets called "Alcana" or "Alcaiceria." They also lent money to the agricultural population of the city and vicinity; but their monetary transactions occasioned frequent complaints. In a decree of Sept. 5, 1292, the king, Sancho IV., permitted the Jews to charge three or, at the utmost, four per cent interest. One of the richest Jews of Villa Real was Don Zulema aben Albagal, who, like his son-in-law, Abraham aben Xuxen (Susan), was a mill-owner and a farmer of the royal taxes, and had business relations with the grand masters of the Order de Calatrava, which was very powerful in the city. Donna Maria de Molina, the wife of Sancho IV., and, after his death, regent of Castile, protected the Jews and guarded their privileges during the continuous internal dissensions of the country, because she was dependent on the taxes they paid. Like all the Jews of Castile, those of Villa Real enjoyed peace during the reign of Pedro I. Nor were they subjected to the punishments which Henry II., after Pedro's death, inflicted upon the aljama of Toledo. For faithful services to Henry II., the grand master of Calatrava received a grant of from 500 to 1,000 maravedis, "payable from the taxes of the Jews residing between Guadalerza and Puerto de Muradal, together with Villa Real and its vicinity." This grant was confirmed by Juan I. (Aug., 1379).Persecution in 1391.
The great persecution of the Jews in 1391 visited Villa Real in all its horrors. "The storm swept over Muradal and fell with equal severity upon Villa Real," writes a contemporary chronicler. On a day not precisely indicated, but probably between the tenth and twentieth of June, the mob rushed into the Jewry and plundered the dwellings, the warehouses, and the synagogues. Every Jew that resisted was mercilessly cut down, and the whole Jewry was destroyed in a few hours. All the Jews who did not seek safety in flight were baptized. According to a document dated Aug. 6, 1393, the Great Synagogue, with its outbuildings and the Jewish cemetery, was presented by the king, Don Henry III., to his steward, Gonzalo de Soto, who sold it in 1398 for a consideration of 10,000 maravedis to Juan Rodriguez de Villa Real, the last named intending it for a monastery dedicated to San Domingo.
Notwithstanding their conversion to Christianity, the secret Jews, or Maranos, were bitterly hated by the Christians. In June, 1449, a bloody battle occurred between the Christian inhabitants of Villa Real and the Maranos, who were mostly tax-farmers and tax-gatherers. The first victim was Alfonso de Cota, a man of immense wealth, whose house was stormed and plundered. The mob, led by knights and nobles, rushed into the quarter De la Magdalena, where the richest Maranos were living, and into the former Jewry, robbing, plundering, and killing. The corpses of the noblest Maranos were dragged through the streets and hung up by the legs in the public places. The ringleader, Pedro Sarmiento, led away 200 mules laden with gold, silver, tapestries, and everything portable of sufficient value to tempt cupidity; he, as well as all the other miscreants, went unpunished. Thenceforth no Marano was allowed to hold public office at Villa Real. The chroniclers say that it is doubtful whether any Jews ever returned to the city after this occurrence. In April, 1483, the activities of the Inquisition were extended to Villa Real; the first victims being the rich tax-collector Juan Gonzales Pampan and his wife, known as "La Pampana."
- Luis Delgado Merchán, Historia Documentada de Ciudad Real, Ciudad Real, 1896;
- Boletin Acad. Hist. xx. 462 et seq.