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CORDOVA:

A city in Andalusia, Spain. As early as the eighth century it included Jews among its inhabitants. They lived in a separate quarter or "Juderia," one of the gates of which was called "Bab al-Yahud," now the Almodovar gate. At this gate, later known to the Moslems as "Bab al-Huda," the Jews carried on an extensive trade in silks and slaves. They developed considerably in numbers and importance under 'Abd al-Raḥman I.—whose greatness is said to have been prophesied by a Jew—and under his successors. The Jews were not behind the Moors in their efforts to promote education and culture; and at the Academy of Cordova, founded by the califs, Jews and Moors together received instruction in philosophy, grammar, mathematics, botany, and even in music. One of the graduates from this academy was a Jew named Elias, who is referred to as a poet and as an author of synagogal verses and songs. Mention is also made of a Jewish musician by the name of Manṣur, who is said to have been a great favorite with Al-Ḥakim at (Mariano Soriano Fuertes, "Historia de la Musica Española," i. 82, Madrid, 1855).

Bab al-Yahud or Gate of Almodovar, Formerly the Entrance to the Juderia at Cordova.(From a photograph by Dr. W. Popper.)Ḥasdai ibn Shaprut.

In Cordova, as in Mohammedan countries generally, the Jews enjoyed the same privileges and were subject to the same duties as the other inhabitants. They fought in the Moorish army and held government positions. The cleverest Hebrew diplomat was Ḥasdai ibn Shaprut, minister of finance under'Abd al-Raḥman III. It was he who brought about the visit to Cordova of the proud queen Toda of Navarra with a large retinue, for the purpose of making an appeal to 'Abd al-Raḥman for protection and assistance. Through Ḥasdai's intercession the scholar Moses b. Ḥanok, who had been exiled to Cordova, was liberated. Ḥanok was afterward elected to succeed the chief rabbi, Nathan, who had voluntarily resigned. Ḥasdai founded at Cordova a school entirely independent of the gaonate, and thereby established the study of the Talmud in Spain. Through the efforts of Ḥasdai, who had attracted to himself many scholars, poets, and grammarians, such as Menahem b. Saruḳ, Dunash b. Labrat, and others, Cordova became the seat of Jewish learning.

After Ḥasdai's death (about 970) a dispute arose in the community concerning the rabbinical office at Cordova, which, after the death of Moses b. Ḥanok, was filled by his son. Many members of the community, especially the rich silk-manufacturer Ibn Gau, favored Joseph ibn Abitur for the position. The latter belonged to a prominent family of Cordova, and was greatly superior to Ḥanok in learning; furthermore, he was a poet of distinction and a master of Arabic. But the greater part of the community sided with Ḥanok. The dispute lasted for a long time, and was finally brought before the calif, Al-Ḥakim, who, yielding to the will of the majority, decided in favor of Ḥanok. When Jacob ibn Gau, however, received from Mohammed Abi-Amr the appointment of "nasi" and supreme judge of all the Jewish communities of Andalusia, and was elected by the Jews of Cordova as their chief, he removed Ḥanok from office, and, with the concurrence of the members of the community, recalled the banished Ibn Abitur as rabbi. But Ibn Abitur failed to respond to the call; and after the death of Jacob ibn Gau, who had meanwhile been removed from office and thrown into prison, Ḥanok was reinstated as rabbi, and retained his position until his death, which occurred on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sept. 29, 1014).

Persecutions Under the Moors.

Ḥanok lived long enough to witness the evil that came upon Cordova. After the death of Al-Manṣur a furious civil war broke out. The Berber chieftain Sulaiman, who was ambitious to be ruler, had united with Count D. Sancho of Castile; whereupon Mohammed, his rival, sent a deputation of rich Jews to invoke the aid of Count D. Ramon Borrell of Barcelona, who at once responded with an army. On hearing this, Sulaiman swore to avenge himself upon the Jews; and on April 19, 1013, he broke into Cordova, destroyed their dwellings, burned their storehouses, and drove the Jews from the city; only those living in one of the eastern suburbs being spared. This was the first persecution suffered by the Jews of Spain (V. Balaguer, "Historia de Cataluña," I., book iii., ch. v.). The most noted families of Cordova were reduced to beggary and driven into exile. Joseph ibn Shaprut, the son of Ḥasdai, and the grammarian Jonah ibn Jannaḥ settled at Saragossa; Samuel ibn Nagdelah, at Malaga. In Cordova, where, in 1117, a false Messiah had appeared, there remained but a comparatively small Jewish community; and this was soon subjected to new persecutions at the hands of the fanatical Almohades, whose leader, 'Abd al-Mumin, in 1148, compelled the Jews to choose between Islam and death. Many underwent the formality of conversion to Islam; while many others emigrated. The magnificent synagogue at Cordova, erected by Isaac ibn Shaprut, father of Ḥasdai, the rabbi of which was the scholarly Joseph ibn Ẓaddiḳ, became a prey to insatiate pillage by the fanatics.

Calle de Maimonides, Cordova.(From a photograph by Dr. W. Popper.)Under Castilian Rule.

Cordova, the old seat of the califs and the birthplace of Moses Maimonides, was retaken in 1236 by Ferdinand III., "the Saint" of Castile; and the Jews of the city again came under the jurisdiction of the canonical laws. The king assigned to them as their habitation the old Juderia, situated near the cathedral, and next to the fish-market ("la Pescaderia"); the principal street of the quarter being known as the "Calle de los Judios"—now the Calle de Maimonides. This Juderia was surrounded by walls, and dominated by a fort. They were obliged to wear distinctive badges and, in accordance with a decree of Pope Innocent IV., to contribute a tithe to the clergy. As soon as the Jews, in consequence of the privileges which had been granted to them by Ferdinand III. (Fuero de Cordova), again felt certain of protection, they began to build a synagogue, the height and magnificence of which aroused the wrath of the bishop and the chapter, who submitted a protest to the king. As this protest remained unheeded, however, the clergy turned to the pope, requesting him to forbid the completion of so imposing a structure. On April 15, 1250, Innocent IV. issued the desired prohibition;but the structure was nevertheless completed in the same year. The papal decree had this effect, however, that thereafter the Jews of Castile and Leon could not erect a synagogue without special permission (Amador de los Rios, "Historia," i. 365 et seq., 556 et seq.; "Boletin Acad. Hist." v. 202, 234, 361 et seq.; "Rev. Etudes Juives," ix. 157 et seq.). Fifty-five years later a new and magnificent synagogue was built by the architect Isaac Meḥab b. Ephraim, in the middle of the Calle de los Judios, between the Place de las Bulas and the Almodovar gate. It was designed in the Moorish style, and had ogives 5 meters long and 6 meters wide. The northern and southern façades were decorated with colored faience, and bore Hebrew inscriptions, consisting principally of verses from the Psalms. The ornamentation of the western wall contained the only Arabic dedication to be found in any synagogue of Spain; while the eastern wall bore, in the form of a square, the following Hebrew inscription:

("This little sanctuary and a house of testimony was built in the year 75, by Isaac Meḥab, son of the honorable Ephraim, as a temporary structure: Haste, O God, to rebuild Jerusalem!")

In ("temporary," lit. "of an hour") the year 75 () is again indicated. Since 1722, and possibly from an earlier period, this building was in the possession of the Shoemakers' Gild. The original purposes to which it had been dedicated were unknown. In 1884, however, the origin of the building was discovered by two academicians, D. Fidel Fita of Madrid and D. Romero y Barros of Cordova; and, like the two synagogues of Toledo, it is now set apart as a national monument ("Boletin Acad. Hist." v. 202 et seq.; "Rev. Etudes Juives," x. 246 et seq.).

Massacres. Decorations on the Walls of the Ancient Synagogue at Cordova.(From a photograph by E. N. Adler.)

The history of the Jews in Cordova differs but slightly from that of those of other communities in Castile. Upon the death of Ferdinand IV., his widow, Queen Constance, decided (Oct. 4, 1312) that a yearly requiem should be sung in memory of her husband; the expenses to be defrayed out of the annual revenue of the slaughter-house at Cordova, aggregating about 4,000 maravedis. For about ninety years the Jews of Cordova enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity, until they, too, became victims of the general persecution of 1391. The clergy, especially the archdeacon Ferrand Martinez, had so persistently instigated the people of Seville and Cordova against the Jews, that in Jan., 1391, an outbreak was considered imminent; and in June of the same year massacres of the Jews spread from Seville to Cordova. The dwellings, storehouses, and factories of the Jews became a prey to the flames; virgins were dishonored; and men, women and children, without distinction of age or condition, were shockingly murdered. More than two thousand corpses lay in the streets, the houses, and the synagogues. Many persons, through fear of death, decided to embrace Christianity; and the community, once so flourishing, lay desolate. Of the beautiful synagogues, that built in 1315 alone remained. In 1406 these persecutions were renewed. The shops and dwellings of the Jews were plundered or burned, and hundreds of persons were ruthlessly massacred. In consequence of these repeated cruelties the feeble king, Henry, imposeda fine of 40,000 doubloons upon the city of Cordova. Only 10,000 were paid, as the king died before the negotiations for a diminution of the sum had been completed (De los Rios, l.c. ii. 105, 361, 415 et seq.; Epistle of Ḥasdai Crescas, in the Appendix to "Shebet Yehudah," ed. Wiener, p. 129). After the massacre many Jews left Cordova and settled at Granada, which was still under Moorish dominion. In 1470 the "corregidor" (governor) of Cordova ordered the few Jews still remaining in the city to be removed from the Juderia, where their ancestors had dwelt for centuries, and to be transferred to the old Alcazar. At the petition, however, of Moses Barchillo, president of the Jewish congregation, this order was abrogated by a decree of Isabella the Catholic (March 16, 1470).

Procession of the Caridad.

Still more violent was the hatred against the apostate Maranos—a hatred which soon resulted in the formation of two parties; viz., the Old Christians, headed by the Bishop of Cordova and the Count of Cabra, and the Maranos, or New Christians, whose protector was the powerful Alfonso de Aguilar. One of the associations organized by the clergy was the Caridad, a society which excluded all Maranos without exception from membership. The solemn inauguration of this society was celebrated by a procession on March 14, 1473. All the streets through which it passed were strewn with flowers; and all the houses—excepting those of the Maranos, which remained closed—were decorated with flags and costly carpets. As the procession reached the Calle de la Herreria ("street of the smiths"), in the vicinity of the cathedral and the Juderia, the signal for assault was given. A smith, Alonzo Rodriguez by name, seized the torch illuminating an image of Mary, and set fire to the house of one of the richest Maranos of the city—an act which he averred to have committed out of vengeance, because water had been poured from one of the windows of the house in question upon the canopy under which the image was placed. In explanation of this charge it is said that a Marano girl, eight or ten years of age, had indeed inadvertently poured some water from the window. With the cry of "Viva la fé de Dios," the fanatical mob broke into the houses of the Maranos, pillaged and burned them, and mercilessly slaughtered the inmates. In order to terminate this cruelty, the governor, Alfonso de Aguilar, accompanied by his brother, Gonçalo Fernandez de Cordova, and several knights, ordered the smith, who acted as leader, to withdraw with his band. The smith answered with a volley of abuse, while the enraged mob attacked the governor, who thereupon ran the smith through with a lance. The governor's action infuriated the mob to such a degree that it poured into the streets inhabited by the Maranos—the S. Maria de Gracia, La Roperia ("street of the pedlers"), La Curtiduria ("street of the tanners"), La Alcaiceria ("the silk-market"), La Plateria ("street of the goldsmiths"), and many others, all of which soon ran with the blood of the slaughtered. De Aguilar was obliged to withdraw to the Alcazar, which also served as a place of refuge for many Jews and Maranos. After the storm had subsided the governor was obliged to leave Cordova; and he proceeded to Aguilar, whither he was followed by many Jews and Maranos. In 1473 an order was issued prohibiting Maranos from holding public office in Cordova; and this was soon followed by another royal decree prohibiting Jews from residing in that city and in Seville under penalty of death. Nineteen years before the general expulsion, therefore, the Jews were obliged to dispose of their houses in Cordova at any price and leave the city.

Cordova and Seville were the first to furnish victims to the Inquisition, which afterward destroyed so many thousands of Maranos in those cities (see Inquisition). The chief autos da fé held in Cordova (and the victims at each) were: June 29, 1665 (Jorge Mendez de Castro and Domingo Rodriguez de Caccres); July 6, 1666 (Diego de Herrera, Juan Nicolas Lopez de la Peña, Catalina de Reyna y Medina, and Antonio Gabriel de Torres); June 13, 1723 (Miguel de Soto y Herrera, Juan Fernandez Dias and Simon de Molina); and April 23, 1724 (Bernardo Philip de Soria de Caccres and Diego de Acosta).

Bibliography:
  • Boletin Acad. Hist. vi. 361 et seq., xxxviii. 303 et seq.;
  • Rev. Etudes Juives, x. 247, xliii. 123 et seq.;
  • Amador de los Rios, Hist., iii. 153 et seq., 283 et seq.;
  • Jacobs, Sources, Nos. 1270, 1695.
G. M. K.
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