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TUDELA , city on R. Ebro, in Navarre, N. *Spain. Tudela was the most important Jewish community in the medieval kingdom of Navarre that remained independent until 1512. No information is available on the beginnings of the Jewish settlement in Tudela, which however appears to have been the most ancient of the communities of Navarre. In the period of Muslim rule Jews engaged in agriculture and international commerce, and owned and rented land in the area. Tudela was the birthplace of *Judah Halevi (at the latest in 1075), Abraham *Ibn Ezra (1092), and Shem Tov ibn *Falaquera. In this period there were around 1,000 Jews in Tudela. The Jews of Tudela dominated the life of Navarrese Jewry, both under Muslims and Christians.

With the end of Muslim rule (1115), Tudela passed to *Alfonso i (el Batallador), king of Aragon. Two treaties of the conquest period concluded by the king with the local Muslims and Jews have been preserved. With the Muslims, it was agreed that all those who desired to remain in Tudela once it passed under Christian dominion would leave their quarter, including their mosques, within one year and settle in the suburbs of the town. They were promised religious and national autonomy and were prohibited from bringing Muslim captives into the town in order to sell them to Jews; in the same treaty, Jews were forbidden to purchase Muslim prisoners of war. Jews who molested Muslims by word or deed would be prosecuted, and no Jewish officials were to be appointed with rights of jurisdiction over the Muslims or their property. However, the local Jews were granted several rights: Jews who had fled from the town during the siege or at the time of the conquest were authorized to return (there appears to have been some tension between them and the Muslims), their rights over their houses and property were guaranteed, and the Jews were required to pay to the Christian governor the taxes which they had formerly paid under Muslim rule. In the judicial sphere, the charters which had been granted to the Jews of *Nájera were also applied to those in Tudela, undoubtedly at their request. Comparison of the two treaties indicates that the Jews were more favored than the Muslims, especially as they were not required to leave their quarter within a year. According to F. Cantera, this quarter was situated within proximity of the cathedral, while in the opinion of L. Torres-Balbás, it lay in the southeastern part of the town (see bibliography). Jews owned a large number of estates, gardens, and vineyards in the district known as Mosquera, near Tudela. Occupations of the Jews in Tudela included *slave trading (already practiced under Muslim rule) in addition to spinning, trade in wool, the production of textiles, and various crafts, including gold-and silversmithing.

It was at the height of this period of prosperity, in the 1160s, that the traveler *Benjamin of Tudela left his city for the countries of the Orient and the Mediterranean basin. His account of the towns he visited included mostly information about the local Jewish community and the economy of the towns. He was most probably a merchant with a great interest in the Jewish world. His book, written in Hebrew, often provides the only information available on the Jews of the time. In 1170 Sancho vi "the Wise" granted the Jews of Tudela a privilege which did much to regularize community life. It permitted Jewish houses in the Jewish quarter, which was now established in the fortress, to be sold and transferred to any buyer, ratified the charters of Nájera, and granted a tax exemption on condition that the Jews of Tudela assumed responsibility for maintaining the fortress of Tudela (with the exception of the tower). A site was allocated to them for a cemetery. A year later Sancho granted the Jews of Tudela the charters applying in Funes and alleviated the severity of the Jewish *oath. The privilege of 1170 secured a place of residence for the Jews in the fortress of Tudela where they could protect themselves against rioters and attackers. Thus there were two Jewish quarters in Tudela. The first, the Vieja (the Old), existed during the Muslim period and continued to exist during the first 50 years of the Christian conquest. This quarter was in the southeastern part of the city, within the walls, in the area stretching from the Cathedral as far as the Queiles River, today El Muro street. The second quarter was established in the fortress in 1170. This new quarter, the Nueva, occupied part of Paseo del Castillo and San Miguel street. In the new quarter there were the following synagogues: the Sinagoga Mayor, the Sinagoga Menor, and the Bet Midrash of Bene Orabuena. We have no information about the locality of these synagogues or of other communal institutions of whose existence we know.

When Navarre passed to the house of Champagne in 1234, French rulers introduced their modes of behavior into the new possessions, while economic and religious rivalry between the Jews and the Christian townsmen also increased. The tax registers show the heavy burden of taxation imposed on the Tudela community. It was affected by the revolt of the townsmen against King Theobald i in 1235. R. Shem Tov *Falaquera, of a distinguished family of Tudela, still complained in 1264 of the situation in his Ha-Mevakkesh. Many Jews lost their fortunes, while the debts which were owed to Jews by the peasants could not be collected. The community administration was concentrated in the hands of several prominent families.

14th and 15th Centuries

The community regulations of 1305 show that the administration was modeled on the institutions of the municipal administration. The "Institution of the Twenty" was comparable to the institution of the 20 town notables found in the towns of Aragon by the beginning of the 12th century, and the 20 jurados who administered the town at the beginning of the 13th century; there were also the "Institution of the Eleven," by which several of the community's regulations were established, and the *muqaddimūn. Every regulation required the signatures of eight of the community's notables. Three of the community's leaders, Joseph b. Shem Tov Falaquera, Samuel b. Joseph Abbasi, and Ḥayyim b. Shem Tov Menir, were to be the decisive authority in matters connected with denunciations by *informers.

Like many of the communities of Aragon and Navarre, Tudela became a haven for the refugees from French territory after the expulsion of 1306. However, difficult times followed. In 1319 several *Conversos who had returned to Judaism were burned at the stake in Tudela. A year later the community was only spared a massacre by the *Pastoureaux (Shepherds) through the latter's defeat near the capital of *Pamplona. The community again suffered from the riots of 1328, and was not spared in the economic decline of the 14th century. Like the other communities of Spain, the Tudela community also appears to have suffered in the 1360s at the hands of the foreign armies which invaded Spain and Castile during the civil war between the brothers Pedro the Cruel and Henry of Trastamara.

During the 14th century Tudela had several outstanding personalities. In 1322 the infante Alfonso of Aragon conducted negotiations with Ishmael b. Joseph ibn Abbas (the same as Ishmael de Abelitas) concerning his settlement in Aragon. The members of this family were prominent merchants who controlled a large part of the trade of that period. R. Joseph *Orabuena, who acted as physician and confidant to Charles iii of Navarre, and accompanied him on several journeys to France, presided over the community of Tudela after 1391. R. Shem Tov b. Isaac *Shaprut, a philosopher and a rabbinic authority, who was involved in a disputation with Cardinal Pedro de Luna (later Pope Benedict xiii) in Pamplona in 1375, was also a native of Tudela. There were also some Converso artists in Tudela, including Juan de Levi, whose paintings are to be found in the local church.

Hebrew sources found in the archives in Pamplona and Tudela show the extensive economic activities of the Jews of Tudela. These sources were mostly written in Hebrew, sometimes in Judeo-Navarrese, that is, in Navarrese dialect but in Hebrew characters. Some of these sources also provide information about the organization of the community.

In 1391 there were 90 houseowners in Tudela who paid taxes, but these represented only a remnant of the community's former population at the height of its prosperity, although Tudela was not itself affected by the 1391 persecutions. Subsequently the community continued to decline.

The phenomena characterizing the communities of Spain in the 15th century were also evident in the Tudela community, and a number of its members abandoned Judaism. The community was also depleted by a plague which struck the town during the 1430s. A Cortes convened in Tafalla in 1482 prohibited the Jews of Navarre from going out of their quarters on Christian festivals; they were forbidden to walk in the streets among the Christians who were celebrating until the conclusion of the prayer service. Only physicians and surgeons were authorized to visit the sick. After the assassination of the inquisitor Pedro de *Arbués in Saragossa the town of Tudela refused to deliver several Converso fugitives to the *Inquisition.

At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, about 2,000 refugees crossed the border of the kingdom of Navarre. Like the other communities in Navarre, the Tudela community ceased to exist after the expulsion of the Jews from this kingdom in 1498. Although the Spanish border was closed, a number of Jews moved to Provence. Tudela was included within the jurisdiction of the Inquisition tribunal of the kingdom of Navarre which was set up in 1512, whose seat was at first in Pamplona and subsequently in Estella. The tribunal established itself in Tudela in 1515 and was later incorporated within the tribunal which had its seat in Logroño. In 1521 the Conversos in Navarre rose in support of the French armies then invading the kingdom. When the invasion had been repelled, the Inquisition turned its attention to the Conversos, many of whom fled from Tudela and the other towns in Navarre. A list of those condemned in Tudela by the Inquisition, known as La Manta, still hung in the cathedral at the close of the 18th century.


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, 1 (1929), index; J. Yanguas y Miranda, Historia de Navarra (1832); M. Kayserling, Juden in Navarra … (1861), 3–110; H.C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, 1 (1906), 551; H. Malter, in: jqr, 1 (1910/11), 151–81, 451–501; Neuman, Spain, index; J.M. Sanz Artibucilla, in: Sefarad, 5 (1945), 337–66; J.M. Lacarra, in: Estudios de Edad Media de la Corona de Aragón, Seccion de Zaragoza, 3 (1949), index; F. Idoate, in: El Pensamiento Navarro (Oct. 12, 1954); F. Cantera, Sinagogas españolas (1955), 320–4; L. Torres Balbás, in: Al-Andalus, 19 (1954), 193ff. add. bibliography: B. Leroy, in: rej, 136 (1977), 277–95; idem, in: Miscelánea de estudios árabes y hebraicos, 32:2 (1983), 81–93; idem, The Jews of Navarre (1985), index; idem, Une famille sépharade à travers les siècles: les Menir (1985); J. Carrasco Pérez, in: Miscelánea de estudios árabes y hebraicos, 29:2 (1980), 87–141; idem, in: Príncipe de Viana, 166–67 (1982), 909–48; J.L. Lacave, in: Sefarad, 43 (1983), 169–79; idem, in: ibid., 44 (1984), 3–32; J.E. Avila Palet, in: Sefarad, 45 (1985), 281–314; idem, ibid., 47 (1987), 9–57; B.R. Gampel, The Last Jews on Iberian Soil (1989), index; Y. Assis and R. Magdalena, The Jews of Navarre in the Late Middle Ages (Heb., 1990), index; Y. Assis, R. Magdalena and C. Lleal, Aljamía romance de los documentos hebraiconavarros (siglo xiv) (1992).

[Haim Beinart /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]