Sarmiento, Pedro°

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SARMIENTO, PEDRO ° (c. 1400–1464), commander of the fortress (alcaide del alcázar) of Toledo, responsible for riots against the *Conversos in the town in 1449. Sarmiento came from a family of courtiers and served as chief confectioner (repostero mayor) to John ii of Castile (1406–54), who appointed him commander of the Toledo fortress in 1445. In 1449 he incited the population of the town to attack the Conversos holding public office there. The pretext for the revolt was a heavy tax imposed by the courtier Alvaro de Luna in the name of the king. As a first step, the rioters set fire to the house of a certain Alonso Cota, of Converso origin, one of the principal tax farmers. Sarmiento took over the powers of the local authorities and arrested all the prominent Conversos. After he had carried out a judicial investigation, and they had confessed their loyalty to Judaism under torture, he condemned them to be burned at the stake.

Sarmiento then published a regulation which laid down, on the strength of an imaginary royal privilege allegedly granted to Toledo by one of the former kings, that New Christians and their issue could not hold public office. It was the first instance of racial discrimination practiced in Castile against the Conversos. A memorandum by Sarmiento's legal adviser, García de Mora, was attached to the regulation. It included severe accusations against the New Christians who, he alleged, were practicing Judaism and plotting against Christianity and the faithful. The disorders in Toledo spread as far as *Ciudad Real, where trials of Conversos were also held. Sarmiento's actions were condemned by the king, who dismissed him from his position. Pope *Nicholas v issued a bull in which he denounced the regulation. In the same year the bishop of Burgos, Alonso de Cartagena (the son of Solomon *ha-Levi who had adopted Christianity), wrote his Defensorium Unitatis Christiana, in which he sharply criticized the segregation between Old and New Christians introduced by Sarmiento. In 1452 Sarmiento was pardoned by the king and during the reign of his successor, Henry iv (1454–74), was reinstated in his court functions.


Baer, Spain, 2 (1966), 279–82; E. Benito Ruano, in: Revista de la Universidad de Madrid, 5 (1956), 345ff.; 6 (1957), 277ff.; idem, Hidalguía (1957), 41ff., 314ff.; idem, in: Hispania, 17 (1957), 483ff.; idem, Toledo en el siglo xv (1961), index; H. Beinart, Anusim be-Din ha-Inkviziẓyah (1965), index.

[Joseph Kaplan]