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The Alhambra Decree Takes Effect, 1492

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: July 31st, 1492




Jews had to leave Spain before facing forced conversion, the brunt of the Inquisition, and the end of Spanish Jewry as we knew it as part of The Alhambra Decree that took effect #onthisday. This was Tisha b'Av, Hebrew year 5252.


This was the final step to officially commence the Inquisition led by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. They, along with Father Tomas de Torquemada, believed as long as there were Jews in Spain, both New Christians (Jews) and Old Christians could be swayed and leave their "true" faith.


Therefore, once Spain reconquered Granada and unified Spain, the monarchs decided that the Jews, Moors and other non-Catholics needed to convert or face expulsion.


The Alhambra Decree was issued at the end of March and the Jews were given just four months to either leave or convert.


Jews quickly liquidated all of their assets, helping the Spanish economy on their way out. Tens of thousands of Jewish refugees died while fleeing, while most made it to their final destinations (mainly Turkey, Portugal, Netherlands, or the Americas).


Those who went to Turkey were welcomed with open arms by Sultan Bajazet who thought that the Spanish monarchy was being foolish for forcing the Jews to leave their economy.

Those who went to Portugal were expelled once again in 1496. Those that fled to the Spanish/Portuguese Americas faced continual persecution. The most welcoming country was the Netherlands where Sephardic Jewry thrived following #1492.


The Alhambra Decree remained in effect until December 16, 1968. Today, Spain and Portugal are trying to make amends with the Jewish community by offering Spanish/Portuguese citizenship to those of Sephardic descent.



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