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9 A NEW JEWISH REALITY

EnglishHebrew
by Joseph Yahalom
9 A NEW JEWISH REALITY IN CASTILE Jews well- verse in Arabic and its literature customarily served not only the Muslim rulers but the Christian kings as well who came to power in the expanding territories of Castile in the wake of the reconquista. These kings were frequently summoned to intervene in favor of one ruler or another in the divided Muslim principalities, and in the end exerted considerable influence over most of the rival petty kingdoms of Andalusia. Thus the princes of the Andalusian south were required to pay a yearly tribute to the Christian kings in the north. One of the most imposing kings of the north was Alfonso VI, the conqueror of Toledo in 1085, who employed Jews to manage his affairs and it was not uncommon for the latter to set out as the king’s emissaries on hazardous missions to the Muslim principalities in the south. One celebrated account, reflecting on the standing of the princes, involved a Jewish emissary from Toledo who was sent to the kingdom of Seville in order to collect the annual tribute from the Muslim ruler, al- Mu‘ tamid. The ruler of Seville had prepared the required sum, but he had done so only after considerable effort and the assorted hoard of coins – including bars of gold – which he presented to the emissary was not exactly what the latter was expecting. The Jewish emissary expressed his dissatisfaction coarsely and the king in a fit of rage discarded the customary rules of diplomatic immunity and ordered the emissary to be abjectly crucified while imprisoning the Christian nobles who had accompanied him. Three of the horsemen page TOC Home

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