SEGOVIA , town in Old Castile, central Spain. The community of Segovia was one of the most important in Castile, and several of the nearby communities were under its jurisdiction. The Jewish quarter was located in the center of the town, on land belonging to the cathedral. The Jewish cemetery was at the place now called Cuesta de los Hoyos. There were many synagogues in Segovia, the biggest of which was confiscated in 1420. It was built in the Mudéjar style, like the Santa María la Blanca synagogue of *Toledo, and was probably erected at the same time (13th century). In 1572 the building became the property of the Franciscan nuns. It caught fire in 1899.
The community of Segovia achieved prosperity in the 13th century, together with other communities in Castile. The earliest sources on the Jews in Segovia are from this century. At the end of this century there were around 300 Jews in Segovia. It was an important center of Kabbalah.
The community was beset by difficulties in the war between Pedro the Cruel and Henry of Trastamara in 1366–69. In the introduction to his Mekor Ḥayyim, R. Samuel ibn Seneh *Zarza describes the plight of many communities in Castile. In Segovia itself the Jews were attacked and robbed of the securities and promissory bills which they had in their possession, and King Henry canceled the debts owed by Christians to Jews. In about 1390 there were about 50 Jewish homeowners in Segovia. There were 23 craftsmen in the community, among them weavers, saddlers, tailors, furriers, smiths, potters, and painters, as well as a few merchants, a physician, and a bullfighter. A center for the study of the *Kabbalah was founded in Segovia, which was the reputed burial place of the kabbalist Jacob Gikatilla.
When persecutions broke out in 1391, the king was in the town and from there he issued instructions to deal with the rioters in different cities. In Segovia itself, however, the authorities were unable to protect the Jews, and, as elsewhere, some of them converted to Christianity. The community subsequently recovered, though it never attained its former prosperity. In 1409 John ii complied with the kahal's request and exempted it from the current alcabala tax on meat and wine. In 1412 he granted to the convent of Santa María de la Merced in Segovia the right to lease a synagogue with all its accessories. This was a compensation for lands taken from the convent, on which Jews had been settled due to the segregation enforced between Jews and recent *Conversos. In 1415 the Jews of Segovia were accused of a *Host desecration. According to Alfonso de Espina's work, Fortalitium Fidei, Don Meir *Alguades himself was involved, but the author's authority in this matter is unreliable. The community declined from the late 1430s. In the 1480s Segovia became a center of anti-Jewish and anti-Converso activity, inspired by Tomas de *Torquemada. In 1485 Abraham *Seneor – who had been made alguacil (an executive officer) of the community's tribunal for life, lodged a complaint with the court against Antonio de la Peña, who incited the masses to violent anti-Jewish feelings. Seneor also acted against the town's alcalde, who had vetoed the baking of unleavened bread, and against the apostate José Talavera, who informed against the community and was finally imprisoned. Anti-Jewish activity came to a head at the close of the 1480s, when the inquisitor Fernando de Santo Domingo appeared in Segovia. He wrote an introduction to a book published there against the Talmud. Another book on Jewish customs was published in Segovia at that time by Antonio de Avila, the "specialist" on Jewish affairs in the La *Guardia trial. The town council continued to restrict the Jews of Segovia in acquiring food and shelter, as in other cities of Castile. At the same time the community grew in size, due to the arrival of Jews expelled from Andalusia. Among the wealthy Jews of Segovia several were active as tax farmers, in and outside the town, during the decade of 1480–90, among them R. Meir *Melamed, son-in-law to Abraham Seneor, Don Isaac b. Joseph *Caro, and others. In 1488 two anti-Jewish polemical works were written in Segovia: Libro de Alborayque and Censura contra el Talmud. The decree of expulsion from Spain was issued in May 1492. Abraham Seneor and Isaac *Abrabanel arranged for Jewish property in Segovia to be sold to the Conversos who remained there. At that time the community of Segovia was the most important one in Castile. The exiles from Segovia probably left for Portugal; with them went the last rabbi of the town, Simeon *Maimi, who died a martyr in Portugal in 1498.
The Jewish quarter has been very well described by J.A. Ruiz Hernando. Until 1412 the Jews lived in the area of San Andrés, where they had two synagogues, and in San Miguel, where they had their Sinagoga Mayor, today the Corpus Cristi. From 1481, the Jewish quarter was enclosed. The Jewish quarter began in Corpus Cristi and continued through the Judeía vieja and in the streets beyond as far as the Gate of San Andrés. Until the beginning of the 15th century there were three synagogues in Segovia: Mayor, Vieja or Menor, and the sinagoga de los Burgos. At the time of the expulsion there were two other synagogues: the new Mayor (after the confiscation of the first, turned into Corpus Cristi) and the sinagoga del Campo. The new sinagoga Mayor, in the calle Barrionuevo, is today a girls' school which is run by the Jesuit monastery. Part of the Ark has been discovered. Abraham Seneor had a bet midrash in his house.
Baer, Spain, index; F. Fita, in: Boletin de la Real Academía de la Historia, 9 (1886), 344–89; I. Loeb, in: rej, 14 (1887), 254–62; A. Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore (1944), 85, 91; A. Rodríguez Moñino, in: Analecta Sacra Tarraconensia, 18 (1945), 111–87; F. Cantera y Burgos, Sinagogas españolas (1955), 285–90; idem, in: Sefarad, 4 (1944), 305; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index. add. bibliography: J.A. Ruiz Hernando, El barrio de la aljama hebrea de la ciudad de Segovia (1980); idem, Historia del urbanismo en la ciudad de Segovia del siglo xii al xix (1982), 2 vols.; E. Gutwirth, in: Proceedings of the 6th World Congress of Jewish Studies (1982), vol. 2, 49–53; idem, in: Y. Kaplan (ed.), Jews and Conversos; Studies in Society and the Inquisition (1985), 83–102.
[Haim Beinart /
Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]