By Jonathan S. Ray
Honorary point out for the 2014 Medieval and Early sleek Jewish heritage part publication award awarded through the organization for Jewish Studies
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Additional resources for After Expulsion: 1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry
As so-called Old Christians began to agitate against the Conversos for what they saw as their unwillingness to abandon Judaism completely, their antipathy came to encompass professing Jews. The popular conviction that Jews actively encouraged Jewish ritual observance among New Christians became pervasive long before the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition in 1480. Suspicions of Converso heresy, as well as resentment toward any evidence of their social mobility, led to legal and physical attacks against them and Jews alike.
As noted earlier, relatively few refugees possessed either established ties to authorities outside Spain or sufficient funds to obtain safe conduct and settlement grants. Those who were sufficiently wealthy and well-connected quickly found themselves responsible for large numbers of their brethren. The leadership role played by those Jews with ties to Christian rulers was therefore of paramount importance to the successful emigration and resettlement of the refugees. These men drew upon a long tradition of using bribes as a means of negotiating with both Christian and Muslim authorities.
A small handful of courtiers and eminent scholars attained positions that transcended their cities of residence, the former being aided by centralizing tendencies of the royal court, while the latter depended upon their own personal, charismatic authority and the general recognition of their position as guardians of Jewish tradition. 62 Recognition of this internal complexity of the medieval Iberian aljama is important for two reasons. First, it emphasizes that the reorganization of communal life in the early Sephardic Diaspora was not the product of a natural solidarity inherited from the Middle Ages.