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SEVILLE. The Andalusian city of Seville, located fifty-four miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, was the hub of the Spanish empire for much of the early modern era. In 1503, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragón established the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) in Seville and thereby launched the ascent of this provincial capital. The number of households doubled between the censuses of 1534 and 1565, and the local population was amplified by droves of foreign traders, sailors, and slaves. The population peaked at over 100,000 at the end of the sixteenth century, making Seville one of the three largest metropolises of Europe and the single most populous city in Spain. A catastrophic plague in 1649 reduced that population by almost half, and it would not recover until the early 1800s. Seville's preeminent position within the empire formally ended in 1680 when the monarchy named the coastal city of Cádiz as the official port for the Indies trade. In its imperial heyday, Seville was notorious for its ostentatious public displays and for the active underworld described so vividly in Golden Age classics by Mateo Alemán (Guzmán de Alfarache, 1599), Miguel de Cervantes (Rinconete and Cortadillo, 1613), and Tirso de Molina (El burlador de Sevilla, 1630).

Seville lies along the east bank of the southwesterly flowing Guadalquivir River, which empties into the Gulf of Cádiz. A countryside rich in natural resources produced high-quality olive oils, wines, and citrus fruits for export to Europe and the Americas, while pine trees provided raw materials for local shipbuilding. The main industries of early modern Sevillesoap and ceramicswere located in Triana, a neighborhood across the river, connected to the city center by a single wooden bridge laid atop a string of boats. Triana also housed the castle of the Inquisition, which was founded in Seville in 1480. In the eighteenth century, tobacco production flourished at Seville's Royal Tobacco Factory (1757), the setting for Bizet's Carmen (18731874) and the current site of the University of Seville.

Royal interests were represented in Seville by an official called the Asistente and by a royal tribunal (Real Audiencia). Honored by four royal visits in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Seville was transformed into the court for five years under the first Bourbon, King Philip V (ruled 17001746). Local government was led by an aristocratic ayuntamiento ('city council') comprising thirty-six veinticuatros and fifty-six lesser-ranked jurados. The council's jurisdiction extended over many neighboring towns and villages, although Seville's territory shrank considerably as the Habsburg kings sold independent status to many of those towns and villages for much-needed cash. The most serious challenge to local authority took place in 1652, when a popular uprising began with bread riots and ended in a bloody crackdown. Seville was the seat of a wealthy archbishopric and a powerful cathedral chapter, and perpetual tension existed among the city's religious, municipal, and royal authorities.

Seville's enormous Gothic cathedral (completed 1506) dominated urban life, and its Giraldaa minaret redesigned as a bell towersymbolized the city. Until the 1500s, Seville had retained its medieval Islamic character, but the urban fabric changed dramatically as the imperial metropolis burst the seams of the old medieval city. New neighborhoods developed outside the old walls, city gates were expanded, and wide, straight avenues replaced narrow, twisting lanes. In 1572 the Casa Lonja (House of Trade, the present-day Archive of the Indies) was built to store New World goods. The Lonja joined the cathedral, Alcázar ('royal palace'), and archbishop's palace as the physical center of power. The Plaza de San Francisco was another important urban nucleus, as the site of the main Franciscan monastery (now destroyed), the Royal Audiencia, the city jail, and the town hall begun in 1527 in the elaborately decorative Plateresque style. Seville's sixteenth-century humanists found inspiration in the Roman ruins of nearby Itálica, and grand urban projects (notably the Casa de Pilatos and the Alameda de Hércules) completed Seville's conversion from an Islamic to a Renaissance city.

Urban development was predominantly religious in the 1600s, a century marked by the founding of dozens of new religious institutions, by the growing popularity of Holy Week and Corpus Christi, and by wide popular support promoting the cause of the Immaculate Conception. The baroque church of San Salvador was begun in 1674, and the 1670s also saw the construction of two spectacular hospitals for the poor, the Hospital de los Venerables and the Hospital de la Santa Caridad, both founded by noble patrons with fortunes from New World trade. The new architecture of Counter-Reformation Seville was filled with masterworks by the local painters Francisco de Zurbarán (15981664), Bartolomé Murillo (16171682), and Juan de Valdés Leal (16221690) and the sculptors Juan Martínez Montañés (15681649) and Pedro Roldán (16241700).

See also Cádiz ; Cervantes, Miguel de ; Ferdinand of Aragón ; Inquisition ; Isabella of Castile ; Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban ; Zurbarán, Francisco de .


Primary Sources

Caro, Rodrigo. Antigüedades, y principado, de la ilustríssima ciudad de Sevilla. Seville, 1998. Facsimile of the 1634 edition.

Ortiz de Zúñiga, Diego. Anales eclesiásticos y seculares de la muy noble y muy leal ciudad de Sevilla, metrópoli de la Andalucía. 5 vols. Seville, 1988. Facsimile of the 17951796 edition.

Secondary Sources

Clarke, Michael, ed. Velázquez in Seville. Edinburgh, 1996.

Dominguez Ortiz, Antonio, and Francisco Aguilar Piñal. El barroco y la ilustración. Vol. 4 of Historia de Sevilla. Seville, 1976.

Morales Padrón, Francisco. La ciudad del Quinientos. Vol. 3 of Historia de Sevilla. 3rd rev. ed. Seville, 1989.

Pike, Ruth. Aristocrats and Traders: Sevillian Society in the Sixteenth Century. Ithaca, N.Y., 1972.

Amanda Wunder

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SEVILLE (Sp. Sevilla ), leading city of Andalusia, S.W. *Spain. According to a tradition, the Jewish settlement in Seville was of very ancient date; it is related that Jews arrived there at the time of the destruction of the First Temple, and among the families were descendants of the House of David, including the *Abrabanel family. However, it is difficult to adduce evidence for the presence of Jews in this locality during the 11th to 10th centuries b.c.e., unless Seville, or another place within direct proximity of it, is identified with the *Tarshish mentioned in the Bible. There is no doubt that a Jewish settlement existed during the period of Visigothic rule in the peninsula. During the seventh century c.e., *Isidore of Seville wrote anti-Jewish polemics there. When the city was conquered by the Muslims in 712 they formed a Jewish guard for its defense; these soldiers settled in the city and its surroundings.

Muslim Period

Under the *Umayyads, Seville prospered and became an important cultural center. The Jewish community of Seville was one of four major communities in Muslim Spain. *Saadiah b. Joseph Gaon addressed Seville Jewry in the mid-tenth century in his letter to the leading communities in Spain (Abraham ibn Daud, Sefer ha-Qabbalah, Book of Tradition, ed. by G. Cohen (1967), 79). The Jews engaged in commerce and medicine and had a virtual monopoly on the profession of *dyeing. Seville served as a refuge for Jews escaping from *Córdoba after the Berber conquest in 1013. Jewish opponents of *Samuel ha-Nagid in Granada fled to Seville, its major opponent. During the 11th century the Jewish population increased as a result of the anti-Jewish riots in *Granada, as well as a large influx of Jews from North Africa seeking economic improvement. Under the Abbasid dynasty (1023–91) prominent Jews served in various capacities at court. During the reign of al-Muʿtaḍid (1024–69) the wealthy scholar Isaac b. Baruch *Albalia served as court astrologer and head of the Jewish community. His son, the scholar Baruch b. Isaac Albalia, uncle of the historian Abraham *Ibn Daud, was born in Seville. Abraham b. Meir ibn Muhajir also served as vizier and head of the Jewish community under the Abbasid king. Important families included the Ibn al-Yatom, Ibn Kamneill, Ibn Mujahir, and the Abrabanel families. Under the Almoravids (11th century), Seville was a major cultural center. Abu Ayub Sulayman ibn Mu'allim of Seville served as court physician and Abu al-Hasan Abraham b. Meir ibn Kamneil as a diplomat under King Ali ibn Uūsuf (1106–43). The poets Abu Sulayman ibn Mujahir and Abul al-Fatḥ Eleazar ibn Azhar and the scholar Meir ibn Migash lived in Seville in the early 12th century. Seville Jewry suffered the same fate as the other Andalusian communities in the wake of the Almohad conquest and was entirely destroyed.

Location of the Jewish Quarter

Under Muslim rule the Jewish quarter was situated in the western part of the city, in the present parishes of Santa Magdalena and San Lorenzo, where the Cal and Cal Maior streets ("Community Street") are still to be found. This was probably the old Jewish quarter (judería vieja), which was then also the Moorish quarter. The al-Shawwār Gate, known as the Judería Gate during the Middle Ages and later as the Meat Gate (Puerta de la Carne), was situated within the boundaries of the quarter. The other Jewish quarter, established after the city was conquered by the Christians, extended from the Carmona Gate, through the San Esteban, Las Aguilas, and de Abades streets, to the Cathedral, the Oil Street, and the Alcazar to the city wall. Ballesteros (see bibliography) may, however, have been correct in stating that from the Alcazar the boundary of the quarter passed through Matías Gago Street, Sole-dad, to San Nicolas and from there to Madre de Dios Street, St. Bartholomé Square, and Vidrio Street to Tintes Street, through the "Rose" alley. The main street of the Jewish quarter was the one that started in the Puerta de la Judería (today de la Carne) and ended at the gate that used to be in front of San Nicolás, in other words the streets that nowadays are called Santa María la Blanca and San José. The busiest part of the quarter was the square that is today called plaza de Santa María la Blanca. Important localities and streets in the Jewish quarter were the Cruces street and the streets of the Levíes and Archeros, where the original doors of the synagogue (now Santa María la Blanca) were and are still preserved but not used. Santa María la Blanca had been a mosque before it was given by Alfonso x in 1252 to the Jews to use as synagogue together with other two mosques. In 1391 this synagogue was converted into the present church. In the Santa Cruz place there was a synagogue, also formerly a mosque, which was converted into a church in 1391. Before its destruction by the French in 1810, it occupied a large part of the Santa Cruz place. The third mosque that was turned into a synagogue used to be where San Bartolomé church stands. In Susona street, according to legend, lived Susona, who was connected with the plot of the Conversos against the Inquisition. At the time of the expulsion of the Jews of Andalusia in 1483 (see also below), the quarter was surrounded by a wall which ran as far as San Esteban. The inner wall had two gates. There were many synagogues in the quarter, including one erected by Samuel b. Meir ha-Levi *Abulafia of Toledo during the 14th century. The archdeacon of Ecija, Ferrant *Martínez (see also below), enumerated 23 synagogues in Seville during the second half of the 14th century, and related that he destroyed them. The origin of such a large number is unknown; he may have included the yeshivot in this number. Some of the synagogues were converted into churches: Santa María la Blanca is particularly well known. After the quarter ceased to exist, it was named "New Quarter" (Barrionuevo) but its remains may still be seen in the Santa Cruz quarter.

The Jewish cemetery of Seville was near the Puerta de la Carne, formerly de la Judería, in the Bujaira, where the Colegio de Potacoeli now stands. The Inquisition in Seville sat in Triana castle, after a brief period in the Dominican monastery of San Pablo.

[Haim Beinart /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]

After the Christian Reconquest

In 1248 Seville was captured by the armies of Ferdinand iii (1217–52). The Jews of the city prepared a key for him on which was engraved in Hebrew: "the King of Kings will open, the King of the land shall come" (the key is preserved in the cathedral treasury). The Jewish quarter succeeded in obtaining the three mosques situated within its boundaries, which were converted into synagogues. In the distribution of properties which took place after the Christian conquest, and later during the reign of Alfonso x of Castile, many Jews obtained real estate in the form of houses, arable land, olive groves, and vineyards in the city and its outskirts. Those who received the properties were obliged to settle in Seville and a royal decree stipulated that owners of property in the city would not benefit from any rights unless they lived there permanently. Among these Jews were Don Todros b. Joseph ha-Levi *Abulafia and his son Joseph, who at the time of his death bequeathed many properties to the city (1273); they were confiscated and presented to the local church. Immediately after its capture the Christians succeeded in converting Seville into an international commercial center. Its trade extended to the ports of Spain, Portugal, and North Africa, and many Jews took part in this commerce.

In 1254 Alfonso x inaugurated two annual fairs in Seville. The Jews who attended them or participated in them were granted freedom of trade and an exemption from taxes. In 1256 Alfonso nevertheless ordered each of the elders of the community, its leaders, and the Jews of Seville to pay 30 denarii to the head of the Church, a payment which had also been made by the Jews of Toledo. The Jews of the city also paid tithe and firstfruit taxes to the archbishop of Seville (as also did the Moors there). The rights of the Jews of Seville stipulated, among other articles, that lawsuits between Jews and Christians should be brought before the judges of the town, with the exception of suits pertaining to tax farming. There were also community regulations against adultery and marital offenses. Despite this, there were Jewish women who lived in concubinage with Christians (barraganas) and enjoyed defined rights in the city. In Seville, Jewish women acted as mourners for Christians. In practice, the living conditions of the Jews of Seville did not differ from those of the other Jews of the kingdom, with the exception of rights granted to them on the strength of their residence in this border region.

The registers of the office of Sancho iv for 1293–94 show that the annual tax paid by the Jews of Seville amounted to 115,333 maravedis and five sólidos. The community of Seville appears to have numbered 200 families during that period, and it may be assumed that the overwhelming majority were wealthy. During the course of the 14th century, the community succeeded in consolidating itself and in attaining a fair cultural and economic level. The Jews of the community took part in the lease of municipal taxes in the city and the region under its jurisdiction, as well as in economic activities promoted by the government. During the 14th century Jewish physicians were employed as municipal officials – a situation not found, for instance, in Toledo. The physicians of the city were members of the Ibn Zimra family; they also engaged in various financial activities. In 1312 the community succeeded in obtaining the king's permission to hang an *informer then active in Seville; R. *Asher b. Jehiel commended the community for this action. In 1342 King Alfonso xi requested Pope Clement vi to release the synagogue built in Seville by Joseph de Ecija so it could be employed for the purpose for which it was built. In advocating the Jews' case the king stressed their economic and military utility in the war against the Muslims.

Activities of Ferrant Martinez

In 1378 the archdeacon of Ecija, Ferrant Martínez, began anti-Jewish agitation in Seville. He called for the destruction of the 23 beautiful synagogues of the Jews and the closure of their quarter so that they would not come into contact with the Christians. The Jews of the town complained about the hatred which he fomented and the prohibitions which he issued against the residence of Jews in the archbishopric of Seville. In 1382 John i ordered Martínez to cease his activities, but he pursued his campaign. The leaders of the community still complained to the crown about Martínez in 1388, while he claimed that he was acting with the approval of the archbishop of Seville to separate the Jews from the Christians. In 1390 Henry iii ordered the archbishop of Seville to act against Martínez with firmness and restore to the Jews the synagogues which had been confiscated; the head of the Church of Seville was to bear the responsibility if the order was not carried out. Activities such as these were frequent occurrences in Spain as in other countries, when young and fanatical clergymen acted arbitrarily and upon their own initiative against the Jews, and presenting the government and Church with their violence as a fait accompli.

Persecutions of 1391

On June 4, 1391, the anti-Jewish disorders which were later to sweep all the towns of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon broke out in Seville. The rioters in Seville, including soldiers and sailors who went by boat from one place to another inciting the population, teaching others from their experience. The community was almost totally destroyed: some of its members died as martyrs, a minority escaped; others converted and left the Jewish fold. The synagogues were turned into churches and the churches acquired substantial real estate in the form of land, charitable trusts, shops, workshops, and houses which had formerly belonged to Jews and the community. Henry iii granted houses to his chief mayordomo, Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, and the chief justice, Diego López de Estúñiga, which had been the property of the community, and the synagogues to the city of Seville.

Decline of the Community

The remaining Jews of Seville were unable to recover from the persecutions of 1391 and their rehabilitation was extremely slow. In 1437 a number of Jews appealed to John ii to regularize the matter of their residence in their quarters. In the Santa Cruz quarter the 75 houses in which Jews lived and worked were rented. In another quarter, near the Santa María la Blanca church (a former synagogue), there were 56 houses. A letter from Pope Nicholas v to the bishop-administrator of Seville records an exceptional action by the Jews of Seville in 1449 when a plague broke out there. After the example of the Christians, who organized a religious procession in the town, the Jews of Seville organized a procession during which they took out the Torah scrolls, scattered branches, and decorated the streets, thus imitating the custom and ritual of the Christians in their processions, as if to insinuate that God had not accepted the plea of the Christians.

Despite several expressions of sympathy on the part of Christian inhabitants, the situation of the community appears to have been serious. In 1474 the community paid an annual tax of only 2,500 maravedis, and this sum was reduced to 2,000 maravedis in 1482. On Dec. 8, 1476, the Jews were ordered to leave their quarter and move to two places; one of them was the Corral de Ferez, the other, the Alcázar Viejo. They were to cover the expenses of repairs to their new places of residence.

On Jan. 1, 1483, the crown acceded to the demand of the *Inquisition and an expulsion order was issued against all the Jews of Andalusia. A period of 30 days was given to the Jews to leave. The actual decree of expulsion is not extant but much information is available on the procedure of its execution. When the general decree of expulsion of the Jews from Spain was issued in March 1492, Seville was a port of embarkation for the exiles, most of whom left for North Africa.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish settlement in Seville began again. Most of the Jewish settlers came from North Africa. In addition to these families, there were also refugees from Germany who arrived there during the early 1930s. The several dozen Jews in Seville were joined in the 1960s by Jewish arrivals from Morocco and Algeria.

Conversos in Seville

Little information is available on the history of the *Conversos in Seville during the first half of the 15th century. Until the expulsion and after it the Conversos in Seville were known for their adherence to Judaism and their loyalty to Jewish law. They maintained extremely close relations with their Jewish brothers, and anyone of whom it was said that he was a Converso of Seville, or that he had stayed there, was considered a Jew in every respect. After the attacks on the Conversos in Córdoba in 1473, many of them fled to Seville. The Conversos in Seville also gradually became aware of the danger which threatened them and large numbers left for North Africa and other places. Others organized guards in their quarter to protect their lives and even hired 300 equestrian knights and 5,000 infantrymen. When acts of hostility broke out against them they were unable to defend themselves, and with the Conversos of Córdoba they tried to establish themselves in *Gibraltar. During that period R. Judah ibn Verga conducted a campaign among them calling on them to return to Judaism and to leave the kingdom before it was too late.

When Ferdinand v and Queen Isabella visited Seville in 1477, the head of the San Pablo Dominican monastery in the city, Alonso de Hojeda, and others pointed out to the monarchs the religious situation in their city and requested the establishment of an Inquisition. The monarchs accepted their demand, and from there addressed themselves to Sixtus iv. In 1480, two years after the authorization was granted, Miguel de Murillo and Juan de San Martín were appointed inquisitors, but it was only on Jan. 1, 1481 that they began their merciless activities. As a first measure they ordered all the noblemen of the surroundings (among them some of the kingdom's highest ranking personalities such as Rodrigo Ponce de Leon) to deliver all fugitive Conversos to them. Documents of the Inquisition tribunal of Seville are not extant, but various state documents and chronicles of those days are filled with descriptions of the activities of the inquisitors and their proceedings against the Conversos. Large numbers of both wealthy and poor folk were arrested, imprisoned, tried, and burned at the stake. Among those tried were members of the Ibn Shoshan, Adoba, and Abulafia families. At first the Conversos sought to defend themselves and began to hoard weapons. A popular tradition relates that the daughter of Diego de Shoshan revealed the project to her Christian lover, who alerted the Inquisition, which struck a hard blow at the Conversos involved in this scheme. In August 1481, when a plague broke out in the city, many Conversos were authorized to leave it after they had deposited their money as a surety, but a large number of them did not redeem their surety and fled (among them the Hebrew printer Juan de Lucena) to North Africa, Portugal, and Italy. The Inquisition also followed the Conversos to the surrounding villages; wherever it arrived, numerous Conversos died as martyrs.

According to a cautious estimate, over 700 men and women were burned at the stake in Seville between 1481 and 1488, while over 5,000 were returned within the fold of the Church. At the end of 1484 a convention of the inquisitors of the kingdom was held in Seville in the presence of *Torquemada. It defined the procedure of the Inquisition and was thus the first conference for the study and improvement of working methods of the Inquisition. In Seville, the Conversos and travelers who arrived in the harbor were spied upon and the Inquisition searched every ship which entered or left. This situation continued until the abolition of the Inquisition during the 19th century.

[Haim Beinart]


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; A. Ballesteros, Sevilla en siglo xiii (1913); J. González, Repartimiento de Sevilla, 2 vols. (1951); Cantera-Millás, Inscripciones, index; B. Eloy Ruano, in: Hispania, 85 (1962), 23–37; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 1 (1906), 160ff.; 4 (1906), index; B. Llorca, in: Sefarad, 2 (1942), 118ff.; F. Cantera, ibid., 4 (1944), 295–349; B. Llorca, Bulario Pontificio de la Inquisición (1949), 48–67. add. bibliography: J. de Mata Carriazo, in: Homenaje a don Ramón Carande, vol. 2 (1963), 95–112; J.V. Baruque, in: Historia, Instituciones, Documentos, 1 (1974), 221–38; A. Collantes de Terán Sánchez, in: Historia, Instituciones, Documentos, 3 (1976), 167–85; K. Wagner, Regesto de documentos del Archivo de Protocolos de Sevilla referents a judíos y moros (1978); A. Domínguez Ortíz, in: Nueva revista de filología hispánica 30 (1981), 609–16; A. Herrera García, in: Sefarad, 41 (1981), 95–110; I. Montes Romero-Camacho, in: La sociedad medieval andaluza; grupos no privilegiados. Actas del iii Coloquio de historia medieval andaluza (1984), 57–75; idem, in: La ciudad hispánica durante los sig;os xiii al xvi; Actas del coloquio, 1 (1985–87), 343–65; idem, Andalucía entre oriente y occidente (1261492). Actas del v Coloquio internacional de historia medieval de Andalucía (1988), 551–68; R. Sánchez Saus, in: En la España medieval, V, Estudios en memoria del Profesor D. Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, 2 (1986), 1119–39; F. Fernández Gómez and A. de la Hoz Gándara, in: ICongreso de Arqueología Medieval Española. Actas, 4 (1986), 49–72; J.A. Ollero Pina, in: Hispania Sacra, 40 (1988), 45–105; F.J. Lobera Serrano, in: Cultura neolatina, 49 (1989), 7–53.

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Between 1340 and 1342, as a result of a series of victories over the Moors, Castille controlled the Straits of Gibraltar and reopened trading links between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic that had been broken since the Islamic advance on the West in the eighth century. The reason for the "good fortune" of Seville, a trading emporium since 1450, was that for 300 years the city had been a crossroads for trade by merchants who were interested in links between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, between Christian Europe and the Muslim Maghreb, between Spain and the Atlantic islands—the Canaries, the Azores, Cape Verde, and Madeira—and, after 1492, between Europe and America.

In the fifteenth century the population of Seville doubled, and in the sixteenth century it was one of the most populous cities in Europe (100,000 inhabitants). Its Guadalquivir River port was linked to the network of the principal ports in the Mediterranean (Venice, Genoa, Naples, Barcelona, Valencia), in North Africa (Alexandria, Bejaia, Tangiers, Ceuta), and the Atlantic (Lisbon, Bordeaux, Bayonne, London, Nantes, Rouen, Bruges). It had shipyards, cranes in its docks, sailors' guilds (for boatswains, stevedores, and pilots), arms factories, a hinterland which provided agricultural produce for export (wine, cereal crops, oils, wool), burgeoning industry (soap, silk, orchil, alum, sugar, etc.), and a slave trade of Guanches from the Canary Islands and black people from Capo Verde and Guinea.

Before the arrival of revenues from the Americas, Seville was known as the City of Gold, a financial and monetary market, and the single point of entry in Europe for "African gold." Large numbers of European merchants flocked here to take advantage of this, turning it into a cosmopolitan city, socially and culturally. Once America was discovered, Seville was the center of the Spanish colonial monopoly for 200 years; this was administered via the Casa de la Contratación (Spanish Board of Trade) from 1503 and the Consulado o Universidad de Cargadores a Indias from 1543. At the end of the sixteenth century the institutions which would make Seville famous all over the world were established: the Lonja (1582) or Bolsa de Mercaderes, the cambios y seguros, the largest in Europe (3,136 square meters), which replaced the traditional Gradas; the Casa de la Moneda (1585), the largest mint of all time, which housed the best part of the 181,333 kilograms of gold and the 16,886,815 kilograms of silver that arrived from America between 1503 and 1660.

Seville had a market monopoly on the manufacture of tobacco, and its great factory was made famous by Carmen, the cigarette girl, a fictional character symbolizing the importance of tobacco to the region. A center of redistribution for producers from Europe to the Indies, the city switched from trade to finance, specializing in the money market, currency, and credit. It became a flourishing financial market, with international exchange dealers, merchant bankers, public banks, and gold and silver traders, who dealt with deposits, bankers' drafts, maritime exchange, and colonial loans at high interest rates with no restrictions on usury. It was the cradle of an international capitalist elite who became ennobled and landowning.

The American monopoly passed to Cadiz in 1717, which was the start of the decline of Seville as a center of trade and finance. Between 1783 and 1914 industrialization did not make an impact; the port and trade remained connected to regional trade and its renewal as a financial market was unsuccessful (1873). In the twentieth century the city held two international events, the ExposiciónIberoamericana (1929) and EXPO'92. Seville has become a center for administration, leisure, and tourism, and in 1981 became the capital of the Comunidad Autónoma de Andalucía.

SEE ALSO Agriculture; Barcelona; CÁdiz; Cargoes, Freight; Cargoes, Passenger; Chambers of Commerce; Containerization; Empire, Spanish; Free Ports; Harbors; Magellan, Ferdinand; New Spain; Peru; Port Cities; PotosÍ; Spain.


Bernal, Antonio-Miguel, ed. Historia de Andalucía, vol. 8: La Andalucía contemporánea (1868–1981). Madrid: Planeta, 1981.

Bernal, Antonio-Miguel, and Collantes, A. El puerto de Sevilla, de puerto fluvial medieval a centro portuario mundial (siglos XIV–XVII). In Actas de la "Settimane di studi" no 19, I porti come impresa economica, Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica F. Datini, Prato, 1988.

Bernal, Antonio-Miguel. La financiación de la Carrera de Indias (1492–1824). Dinero, moneda y crédito en el mercado colonial español. Seville, Spain: Tabapress-El Monte, 1993.

Antonio-Miguel Bernal

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Seville (səvĬl´, sĕ´–), Span. Sevilla, city (1990 pop. 678,218), capital of Seville prov. and leading city of Andalusia, SW Spain, on the Guadalquivir River. Connected with the Atlantic by the river and by a canal accessible to oceangoing vessels, Seville is a major port as well as an important industrial, cultural, and tourist center. Wines, fruit, olives, cork, and minerals are exported. Its industries include the manufacture of tobacco, armaments, explosives, perfume, porcelain, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles, and machinery. It has a university (founded 1502).

Points of Interest

Seville has kept much of its Moorish aspect. The Gothic cathedral (1401–1519), one of the world's largest, occupies the site of a former mosque, of which two parts remain—the Court of Oranges and the beautiful Giralda tower. The interior of the cathedral is extraordinarily rich and contains invaluable works of art and the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Adjoining the cathedral is the alcazar, built (14th cent.) in Moorish style by Moorish artisans on the order of Peter I (Peter the Cruel) and rivaling the Alhambra in its exquisite decorations and splendid halls. Among the many other notable buildings of Seville are the city hall (16th cent.); the former lonja, or exchange, which contains the archives of Spanish America; the university buildings, which were formerly a large tobacco factory (scene of part of the action of Mérimée's and Bizet's Carmen); and numerous churches and private palaces. Seville is the capital of bullfighting in Spain and a center of the Andalusian Romani (Gypsies), famed for their songs and dances.


The ancient Hispalis, Seville was important in Phoenician times. It was favored by the Romans, who made it a judicial center of Baetica prov. and who built the nearby city of Italica (where the emperors Trajan and Hadrian were born), of which some ruins remain. Seville continued as the chief city of S Spain under the Vandals and the Visigoths. In the 6th cent. Seville was a center of learning. Falling to the Moors in 712, it was (c.1023–1091) the seat of an independent emirate under the Abbadids and a flourishing commercial and cultural center under the Almoravids and the Almohads. In 1248, Ferdinand III of Castile conquered it after a long siege and made it his residence. It is said that 300,000 Moors, the majority of its population, left Seville at that time. With the discovery of the New World, Seville entered its greatest period of prosperity. It was the chief port of trade with the new colonies. In addition to its economic prosperity, it was the seat of a flourishing school of painting to which Velázquez, Murillo (both natives), and Pacheco belonged. In 1718, Seville was superseded as a port by Cádiz. Its economic recovery from the subsequent decline is only recent. In 1810 the French sacked the city. Seville was held by the Nationalists throughout the civil war (1936–39). The 1992 World Exposition was held at Seville.

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Located 70 miles from the Atlantic coast on the Guadalquivir River, the Spanish port of Seville controlled the burgeoning transatlantic trade that developed after Columbus's voyages. Between 1503 and 1717, the Spanish crown declared that all people and goods headed to America must be registered at Seville. The city became an international distribution point that attracted people from all over Europe. By 1600 its population had grown to at least 80,000, with some estimates as high as 130,000.

Two important institutions in Seville handled matters relating to Spanish America. The Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) had responsibility for the commerce, navigation, and movement of people between Spain and its overseas colonies. It also collected and studied maps and reports prepared by returning mariners. The Casa Lonja de Mercaderes (Merchant Hall) oversaw the traders and business transactions that provided supplies for the empire.

Seville grew into a cultural and intellectual center as well as a commercial capital. Spain's most active publishing city during the early 1500s, the city boasted a university and several schools founded by the Jesuits*. Columbus's son Hernando Colon collected humanist* texts that now form the core of a library at the Cathedral of Seville. The city also became a leading center of drama. Examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture in Seville include Merchant Hall, the Hospital de las Cinco Llagas (Hospital of the five wounds), and city hall. In the 1480s, the monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile launched the Spanish Inquisition* in Seville.

The 1600s marked a period of decline for Seville. Plague* struck the city in 1599–1601 and again in 1649. Also during this time, Madrid was gaining power as the seat of royal government, and the city of Cadiz took over much of the transatlantic shipping once handled by Seville. By 1717 the city had lost its control over trade with Spanish America.

(See alsoAmericas; Art in Spain and Portugal; Spain. )

see color plate 5, vol. 4

* Jesuit

belonging to a Roman Catholic religious order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola and approved in 1540

* humanist

referring to a Renaissance cultural movement promoting the study of the humanities (the languages, literature, and history of ancient Greece and Rome) as a guide to living

* Spanish Inquisition

court established by the Spanish monarchs that investigated Christians accused of straying from the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly during the period 1480–1530

* plague

highly contagious and often fatal disease that wiped out much of
Europe's population in the mid-1300s and reappeared periodically over the next three centuries; also known as the Black Death

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Seville River port on the River Guadalquivir, capital of Seville province, sw Spain. Ruled by the Romans from the 2nd century bc to the 5th century ad, it was taken by the Moors in 712, and conquered by Ferdinand III in 1248. The port exports fruit (notably oranges) and wine from the fertile area. Industries: agricultural machinery, shipbuilding, chemicals, textiles, spirits, porcelain, shipping, tourism. Pop. (2001) 702,520.