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JAÉN , city in Andalusia, southern Spain. A Jewish community existed there in the Muslim period. The Ibn Shaprut family originated in Jaén, whence Isaac b. Ezra, the father of *Hisdai ibn Shaprut, moved to Córdoba. The Jews in this period engaged in all branches of commerce, and especially in tanning. In the 11th century Jews from Jaén even emigrated to Ereẓ Israel. After the murder of *Joseph ha-Nagid, the son of *Samuel ha-Nagid, when a rebellion broke out in Jaén, the Jews had to pay a heavy indemnity. At the end of the 11th century the community was headed by R. Isaac who corresponded with Isaac *Alfasi. The community was brought to an end during the *Almohad persecution.

In 1246 Jaén was conquered by Ferdinand iii of Castile. It was not until 1290 that the Jews of Jaén were required to send a representative to the king to negotiate on the amount of annual tax for which the community was liable. The community became important by the middle of the 14th century when it consisted of about 300 families. The Jews in Jaén pursued the same occupations as the rest of Andalusian Jewry, cultivating vineyards and engaging in crafts and commerce. As customary in that period, many had business partnerships with Christians. The community suffered during the civil war between Pedro the Cruel and Henry of Trastamara in the 1360s. Pedro, who called the Muslims of Granada to his aid, permitted them to take the Jews of Jaén captive and sell them into slavery. The community then numbered 300 families.

No details are known about the fate of the Jews in Jaén during the persecutions of 1391, but the number of Jews who left the faith increased. In the second half of the 15th century the number of Jews in Jaén declined greatly. Throughout the area within the Kingdom of Jaén there was no aljama or organized community left. While the number of Jews declined, that of the Conversos rose. In 1473 riots against the *Conversos in Jaén broke out. The riots show the cruel and totalitarian policy pursued by the local authorities and the desire of the people to deprive the Conversos of their wealth. Ten years later an edict of expulsion was issued against the Jews in Jaén as in all the other Andalusian communities. In that year the Inquisition established a tribunal at Jaén, which was the third to be established in the Iberian peninsula, after Seville and Córdoba. This was surely due to the large number of Conversos who resided in Andalusia. Sources found in local archives offer ample information on the Conversos, many of whom were crypto-Jews. These sources compensate for the loss of the files of the tribunal of Jaén. We now have the many names of Conversos or crypto-Jews who were tried and condemned by the Inquisition. Apparently the tribunal did not continue to sit in Jaén but returned there in 1509 and was reconstituted as a district court. In 1526 it was amalgamated with the tribunal in Córdoba. The autos-da-fé took place in Santa María square, in front of the Cathedral.

The Conversos continued to live in what used to be the Jewish quarter, renamed Santa Cruz. The synagogue was in the street called Santa Cruz.


H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 1 (1906), 548; Baer, Urkunden, index; Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Toledot, 65, 219; Ashtor, Korot, 1 (19662), 111, 210–1; 2 (1966), 91–92; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, 326ff. add. bibliography: L. Coronas Tejada, in: Proceedings, 7th World Congress of Jewish Studies, vol. 4 (1977), 141–77; idem, in: Boletín del Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, 97 (1978), 79–105; idem, in: Proceedings, 8th World Congress of Jewish Studies, vol. 2 (1982), 29–34; idem, in: Miscelánea de estudios árabes y hebraicos, 31:2 (1982), 101–17; idem, Conversos and Inquisition in Jaén, (1988).

[Haim Beinart /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]

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