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C. 1440 - 1524 DAVID BEN SOLOMON IBN YAHYA (Portugal- Naples- Corfu – Constantinople)

Rabbi, biblical commentator, and grammarian. In 1496 Ibn Yahya was forced to flee Portugal after a death sentence was pass on him by king John (Joao) II ( 1455-1495) for encouraging conversos to return to active Judaism. He fled first to Naples where he served as Rabbi until expelled by the French losing all of his possessions. His works include Leshon Limudim and (probably) Shekel Hakodesh on grammar, Hilkhot Ṭerefot on ritual law, as well as commentaries on Proverbs, Psalms, and Maimonides’ guide for the perplexed.

C. 1440 - 1510 GASPAR DA GAMA (Goa, India - Portugal)

A Jew, whose real name and origins are unknown, though some claim he was originally from Poland. He was captured and sold as a slave in India. While he was serving the ruler of Goa in 1498, the visiting Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama took him prisoner, forced him to convert, and gave him a new name. Using his vast knowledge of languages, Gaspar accompanied many Portuguese voyages, meeting Amerigo Vespucci and Pedro Cabral.


Pope Eugene IV (1383-1447) issued his bull Dundum ad nostram audientiam forbidding Jews from living with Christians. Just two days later he issued Super Gregem Dominicum which annulled all "privileges" previously extended by Pope Martin V. He also imposed additional restrictions, including banning Jews from Universities.

1444 AVIGNON (France)

A partnership was formed between a gentile goldsmith named Procop and a member of the Jewish community named Davin to form a "publishing house". This was ten years before Gutenberg. Unfortunately, there are no known manuscripts from their partnership, which soon dissolved.


A French physician Published the first Hebrew Concordance called Meir Netiv. One of its purposes was to make it easier for Hebrew-speaking Jews to reply to Christians.


Rabbinical leader and scholar. In the years following the expulsion he focused on the practical Halachic problems that arose on a daily basis. Ibn Habib strived to find ways to ease the sufferings and difficulties of those expelled from Spain, within the realms of Halacha. He is most remembered for his Ein Ya’akov ( Well of Jacob), a compendium of the agadot” (non-legalistic literature) from the Talmud. His emphasis’ reflect the problems facing his generation. Over 100 editions of Ein Ya'akov have been published, and it remains just as popular today as it was 500 years ago.


A dyer, he contracted with a Christian goldsmith from Prague offering to teach him art of dyeing in return for Hebrew letters ready for printing . Unfortunately the agreement did not work out. This was four years before Guttenberg's first printing of a poem in 1450.

1447 August 14, CASIMIR IV (Poland)

Following a fire in Posen which decimated the community , Casimir IV renewed all the rights and made his charter one of the most liberal in Europe. This charter lasted less than a decade before it was revoked under pressure by Cardinal Zbignyev Oleshnitzki the Archbishop of Cracow ( see 1454)rnrn

1449 January 17, ANTI - CONVERSO RIOTS (Toledo)

In the aftermath, fourteen Jewish conversos were put on trial accused of not having truly converted, and deprived of their public offices. Toledo soon enacted a ban against conversos holding any government office. Although this was only a local ban, it soon gained momentum despite the initial opposition of both the Pope and King who were against the discrimination of baptized Christians.

1449 January 27, TOLEDO ANTI-CONVERSO RIOTS (Spain)

New Christians (Conversos) were attacked during a revolt against taxation imposed by lvaro de Luna on behalf of King John II of Castile. The conversos were accused of siding with the tax collectors. Three hundred of them decided to band together and defend themselves. During the attack one Christian was killed. In response, 22 conversos were murdered and numerous houses burned.

1449 June 5, PURITY OF BLOOD Limpieza de Sangre TOLEDO (Spain)

In the aftermath of the converso trial in January of that year, the council decided not to allow New Christians to hold any public office. The Sentencia-Estatuto de Toledo, composed by its mayor Pedro Sarmiento, states" " all the said conversos descended from the perverse line of the Jews, in whatever situation they may be...." This is considered by many to be the earliest reference to Jewish blood rather than Jewish faith and the first example of racial rather than religious discrimination. Pope Nicholas V condemned the decision, claiming that all Catholics constitute one body.

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