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eBook History of the Jews, Vol. 4: From the Rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.) to the Permanent Settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.)
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Publisher:  Varda Books
Original Publisher:  The Jewish Publication Society
Published:  2002
Language:  English
Pages:   757


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ISBN: 1-59045-149-X

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About the Book -- History of the Jews, Vol. 4: From the Rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.) to the Permanent Settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.)

This work of Graetz was the first comprehensive attempt to write the history of the Jews as the history of a living people and from a Jewish point of view. With deep feeling, he describes the struggle of Jews and of Judaism for survival, their uniqueness, the sufferings of the Exile, and the courage of the martyrs, and in contrast, the cruelty of the enemies of Israel and its persecutors throughout the ages. The writing of such a Jewish history in German for a public which in its vast majority identified itself with German nationalism and Christian culture was a heroic achievement.

English readers, to whom the forefathers of the Jews of today—the patriarchs, heroes, and men of God—are familiar characters, will the better understand the miracle which is exhibited in the history of the Jews during three thousand years. The continuance of the Jewish race until the present day is a marvel not to be overlooked even by those who deny the existence of miracles, and who only see in the most astounding events, both natural and preternatural, the logical results of cause and effect. Here we observe a phenomenon, which has developed and asserted itself in spite of all laws of nature, and we behold a culture which, notwithstanding unspeakable hostility against its exponents, has nevertheless profoundly modified the organism of nations.

It is the heartfelt aspiration of the author that “The History of the Jews, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day,” in its English garb, may attain its object by putting an end to the hostile bearing against the Jewish race, so that it may no longer be begrudged the peculiar sphere whereto it has been predestined through the events and sorrows of thousands of years, and that it may be permitted to fulfill its appointed mission without molestation.

This translation, in five volumes, is not a mere excerpt of the “Geschichte der Juden” (like the author's “Volksthümliche Geschichte der Juden”), but a condensed reproduction of the entire eleven volumes. But the foot-notes have been omitted, so as to render the present work less voluminous for the general reader. Historical students are usually acquainted with the German language, and can read the notes in the original.

In this English edition the “History of the Present Day” is brought down to 1870, while the original only goes as far as the memorable events of 1848. The last volume will contain a survey of the entire history of the Jewish nation, together with a comprehensive index of names and events.

The fourth volume covers the period from the rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.) to the permanent settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.).



About the Book

Contents

 

An Excerpt from the Book -- History of the Jews, Vol. 4: From the Rise of the Kabbala (1270 C.E.) to the Permanent Settlement of the Marranos in Holland (1618 C.E.)

A Jewish poet called Spain the “hell of the Jews;” and, in very deed, those foul fiends in monks' cowls, the inventors of the Holy Inquisition, made that lovely land an Inferno. Every misery, every mortal pang, conceived only by the most extravagant imagination of poet; every horror that can thrill the heart of man to its lowest depths, these monsters in the garb of humility brought upon the Jews of the Hesperian Peninsula.

These Calibans also said, “Burn but their books; for therein lies their power.” The Dominicans wished to destroy not only the bodies, but the very soul and spirit of the Jews. Yet they were not able to quench the life of Judaism. They only succeeded in transforming the Spanish paradise into one vast dungeon, in which the king himself was not free. The Inquisition, created by the begging friars, wounded the Jew deeply, yet not mortally. His wounds are now almost healed; but Spain suffers still, perhaps beyond hope of cure, from the wounds dealt by the Inquisition. Ferdinand the Catholic and Isabella the Bigot, who, through the union of Aragon and Castile, laid the foundation for the greatness of Spain, prepared the way, at the same time, by the establishment of the Inquisition, for her decay and final ruin.

The new-Christians, who dwelt by hundreds and thousands throughout the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, were so many thorns in monkish flesh. Many of them held high offices of state, and by means of their wealth wielded great and far-reaching influence. They were also related to many of the old nobility; indeed, there were few families of consequence who had not Jewish blood in their veins. They formed a third part of the townspeople, and were intelligent, industrious, and peaceful citizens. These Marranos, for the most part, had preserved their love for Judaism and their race in the depths of their hearts. As far as they could, they observed Jewish rites and customs, either from piety or from habit. Even those who, upon philosophical grounds, were indifferent to Judaism, were not less irreconcilably hostile to Christianity, which they were compelled to confess with their lips. Although they did not have their children circumcised, they washed the heads of the infants immediately after baptism. They were, therefore, rightly looked upon by the orthodox clergy either as Judaizing Christians, or as apostate heretics. They took no count of the origin of their conversion, which had been accomplished with fire and sword. They had received the sacrament of baptism, and this condemned them and their descendants to remain in the Christian faith, however hateful it might be to them. Rational legislation would have given them liberty to return to Judaism, and, in any case, to emigrate, in order to avoid scandal. But the spiritual powers were full of perversity. That which demands the freest exercise of the powers of the soul was to be brought about by brute force, to the greater glory of God!

During the lifetime of Don Henry IV the clerical members of the cortes of Medina del Campo had persistently advanced the proposal that a court of Inquisition be instituted to bring recusant or suspected Christians to trial, and inflict severe punishment with confiscation of goods. Unfortunately for the clericals, the king was by no means zealous for the faith or fond of persecution; and so this decision of the cortes, like many others, remained a dead letter. The Dominicans, however, promised themselves greater results under the new sovereigns—Queen Isabella, whose confessors had reduced her to spiritual slavery, and Don Ferdinand, who, by no means so superstitiously inclined, was quite ready to use religion as the cloak of his avarice. It is said that the confessor, Thomas de Torquemada, the incarnation of the hell-begotten Holy Inquisition, had extorted from the Infanta Isabella a vow that, when she came to the throne, she would devote herself to the extirpation of heresy, to the glory of God and the exaltation of the Catholic faith. She was now queen; “her throne was established; and her soul was sufficiently beclouded to believe that God had raised her solely to cleanse Spanish Christianity from the taint of Judaism.”

The prior of a Dominican monastery, Alfonso de Ojeda, who had the ear of the royal consorts, made fearful representations to them as to the offenses of the new-Christians against the faith. Aided by two others of like mind, he strained every nerve to set the Inquisition in motion against the Marranos; and the papal nuncio in Spain, Nicolo Franco, supported the proposition of the monk for a tribunal to call them to account for their transgressions.

Without further consideration Don Ferdinand, seeing tbat his coffers would be filled with the plunder of the accused, gave his assent to the scheme. The more scrupulous queen hesitated, and the royal pair decided to appeal to the pope for advice. The two Spanish ambassadors at the court of Rome, the brothers Francisco and Diego de Santillana, earnestly pressed the pope and the college of cardinals to grant the request of their sovereigns. Sixtus IV, from whom anything, good or bad, could be obtained for gold, immediately grasped the money-making aspect of the Holy Inquisition. In November, 1478, he issued a bull empowering the sovereigns to appoint inquisitors from among the clergy, with full authority to sit in judgment on all heretics, apostates, and their patrons, according to the laws and customs of the ancient Inquisition, sentence them, and—most important point of all—confiscate their goods.

Isabella, who had been somewhat favorably influenced in behalf of the new-Christians, was not inclined to adopt rigorous measures to begin with. At her direction, the archbishop of Seville, Cardinal Mendoza, prepared a catechism in 1478 for the use of new-Christians, and issued it to the clergy of his diocese, in order that they might instruct the Marranos in the articles, the sacraments, and the usages of the Christian religion. The authors of this measure displayed strange simplicity in believing that the baptized Jews would allow an antipathy, which every day found new incitement, to be appeased by the dry statements of a catechism. The Marranos naturally remained in what the church considered their blindness; that is to say, in the purity of their monotheism and their adherence to their ancestral religion.

It happened that a Jew or a new-Christian grievously offended the sovereigns by the publication of a small work in which he exposed at once the idolatrous cult of the church and the despotic character of the government. Hereupon the queen became more and more inclined to assent to the proposals for the establishment of the bloody tribunal. The work made so strong an impression that the queen's father-confessor, in 1480, published a refutation by royal command. The attitude of the court became more and more hostile to new-Christians, and when the commission appointed by the sovereigns to inquire into the improvement or obstinacy of the Marranos reported that they were irreclaimable, it was authorized to frame the statute for the new tribunal. The commission was composed of the fanatical Dominican, Alfonso de Ojeda, and the two monks—one in mind and order—Pedro de Solis and Diego de Merlo.

Had demons of nethermost hell conspired to torment innocent men to the last verge of endurance and to make their lives one ceaseless martyrdom, they could not have devised more perfect means than those which the three monks employed against their victims.

The statute was ratified by the sovereigns, and the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition was appointed on September 17th, 1480. It was composed of men well fitted to carry out the bloody decree: the Dominican Miguel Morillo, inquisitor in the province of Roussillon, and renowned as a converter of heretics by means of torture; Juan de San Martin; an assessor, the abbot Juan Ruez, and a procurator fiscal, Juan Lopez del Barco. These men were formally confirmed by Sixtus IV as judges in matters of faith, and of heretics and apostates. The tribunal was first organized for the city of Seville and its neighborhood, as this district stood immediately under royal jurisdiction, and, therefore, possessed no cortes, and because it contained a great many Marranos. Three weeks later the sovereigns issued a decree calling upon all officials to render the inquisitors every assistance in their power.

It is noteworthy that as soon as the creation of the tribunal became known, the populace everywhere looked upon it with displeasure, as though suspicious that it might be caught in the net spread for the Marranos. While the cortes of Medina del Campo proposed the establishment of a court for new-Christians, the great popular assembly at Toledo in the same year—the first after the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella—maintained absolute silence on the question, as though it desired to have no share in the unholy work. The mayor and other officials of Seville proved so disinclined to assist the inquisitors that it was necessary to issue a second royal decree on December 27th, 1480, directing them to do so. The nobles, allied with the converted Jews either through blood or friendship, stood stoutly by them, and sought by every means to protect them against the new tribunal.


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