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Alcalá de Henares


ALCALÁ DE HENARES (Heb. אלקלעא), city in Castile, central Spain. Under Muslim rule Jews lived in Alcalá. After Alcalá was captured from the Moors in 1118, the Jews were granted equal municipal rights with Christians regarding residence, evidence, and criminal compensation. At the end of the 13th century the community was rather small. It grew immensely, as the Jews' taxes indicate. The annual tax paid by the Jews of Alcalá to the Crown, amounting to 8,000 maravedis, was granted by Henry ii in 1366 to the archbishop. It seems that during the 1391 massacres the Jews there did not suffer persecution. In 1395, 19 Jews protested in the synagogue against the nomination of the archbishop's physician Maestre Pedro, a convert from Judaism, as judge of appeals for the Jews of the archdiocese. The Jews of Alcalá were derided in a late 14th-century satire by the *Converso Pedro Ferrús, entitled Cancionero de Baena, depicting a wanderer who entered the synagogue seeking lodging for the night and was scared out of his wits by the inhospitable congregation. The community dwindled after the wave of massacres which swept Spain in 1391, but was later renewed. In the course of the 15th century the community grew constantly to become one of the largest in central Castile. In the 1474 distribution of taxes Alcalá was the third highest paying community in the district of Toledo. There were about 200 Jewish families then. For a short while, Isaac Abravanel lived there. Conversos continued to visit the city's synagogues, as suggested by the Marrano poet Pedro Ferrús; many were tried by the *Inquisition. Hebrew studies at the University of Alcalá were encouraged by CardinalFrancisco *Ximenes de Cisneros in the early 16th century, and the "Complutensian Polyglot" edition of the Bible was compiled under his patronage. Some important Hebraists, such as the Converso Alfonso de Zamora, worked there.

The location of the Jewish quarter of Alcalá de Henares is well known. It was within the area defined by the streets Mayor, Santiago, Imagen, and Cervantes. In Mayor Street it extended in both directions. We know also about two synagogues in Alcalá: the Mayor was at the back of No 10 in Carmen Calzado Street. The other synagogue was in Santiago Street.


G. Sanchez, Fueros castellanos (1919), 305; Rios, Historia… de los judíos de España (19602), index; R. Santa Maria, in: Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 17 (1890), 184–5; F. Pérez Castro, El manuscrito apologético de Alfonso de Zamora (1950), xix–xxviii; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; J.M. Azáceta (ed.), Cancionero de Juan Alfonso de Baena, 2 (1966), 654–6; Y. Baer, History of the Jews in Christian Spain, index. add. bibliography: J.L. Lacave, Juderías y sinagogas españolas (1992), 276–9.

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