City in New Castile, Spain, which, after its conquest by Alfonso VII., possessed Jewish inhabitants. In the "fuero," or charter, granted to the city about 1189, the king secured to the Jews full personal protection, together with commercial privileges in every way equal to those of the Christians; and in consequence the Jewish community increased so rapidly both in size and in influence, that it was able in 1290 to pay 70,883 maravedis in taxes. The following circumstance is significant: The Jews of Cuenca refused to lend money or grain, greatly to the detriment of agriculture and industry; in consequence of which an agreement was entered into in 1326 between the city council and the Jewish community, whereby any Jew or Jewess was privileged to charge any Christian of Cuenca or its vicinity, either man or woman, 40 per cent annual interest on money or property. The prosperity and commercial activity of the Jews finally drew upon them the hatred of the populace; and in the "year of terror," 1391, the Jews suffered greatly; even the officials and other men of influence of the town participated in plundering and slaying them; many were murdered, while others either settled elsewhere or became converts to Christianity. The grandparents of the historian Joseph ha-Kohen left Cuenca, and repaired to the fortress of Huete.
- Amador de los Rios, Historia de los Judios de España, i 338et seq.; ii. 139, 368et seq.;
- Joseph ha-Kohen, 'Emeḳ ha-Baka, p. 70.