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1480 - 1554 JOSEL (JOSEPH) OF ROSHEIM (Germany)

Shtadlan (Court Jew) of Germany. The Shtadlan's job was to intercede with the authorities on behalf of the Jews. In 1514 he and other Jews were charged with torturing the host but were released. Josel dedicated himself to intervening with various rulers. In 1520 he succeeded in obtaining a letter from Charles V protecting the Jews. He published a defense against the attacks of Martin Luther. Josel succeeded in blocking anti-Jewish legislation and defending Jews against charges of ritual murder countless times.

1480 ISRAEL NATHAN (Italy)

Founded the Hebrew printing house of Soncino in Soncino, Italy. Their first book, printed in 1483 under the direction of his son, Joshua Solomon, was a volume of the Talmud (Tractate Brachot). A Bible with vowels was printed with over 400 illustrations in 1488. In all, more than 130 Hebrew books were printed by their various presses over the next 70 years.

1480 - 1543 LEVI IBN HABIB (Ralbach) ( Spain -Jerusalem)

Rabbi and communal leader . When he was a youth he was forcibly baptized by king Manuel of Portugal but upon reaching Salonika, he returned to Judaism. Ibn Habib edited and published his father's Ein Ya'akov ( see1445) and wrote around 150 responsa. As Rabbi of Jerusalem he came into conflict with Jacob Berab over the issue of ordination (see 1583).

1480 September 17, INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN (Seville Spain)

Two Dominican friars, Juan de San Martin and Miguel de Morillo were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV to begin "investigations" into heresy charges against the conversos in Spain. The first order was for all noblemen to denounce lapsed conversos to the Inquisition. Between 1481 and 1488, an estimated 700 men and women were burned at the stake, 5000 were forced to "repent" and approximately 3000 families fled .

1480 September 17, SEVILLE (Spain)

Two Dominican friars were commissioned by Pope Sixtus to begin "investigations" into heresy charges against the conversos in Spain. The first order was for all noblemen to denounce lapsed conversos to the Inquisition. Between 1481 and 1488, approximately 700 men and women were burned at the stake, and approximately 5000 were forced to "repent."


Joseph di Montagna, a traveler from Italy, reported a thriving community of 300 families in Safed.

1481 February 12, FIRST AUTO DA FE (Seville, Spain)

Six Converso (Marrano) men and six women were burned alive for allegedly practicing Judaism.Diego de Suzan a prominent merchant and the others were turned in by his daughter. The Auto da Fe (Act of Faith) combined the Judicial ceremony of the Inquisition with vociferous sermons. An individual could be denounced for having lapsed back into his old religion or committing heresy. Although the Inquisition and the Auto da Fe was used on anyone accused of heresy, its main victims were Jews. The inquisition accused people of backsliding or heresy for actions such as not eating pig (for whatever reason), washing hands before prayer, changing clothes on the Sabbath, etc. Over two thousand Auto da Fes are said to have taken place in the Iberian Peninsula and its colonies. The number of victims in Spain alone is estimated at 39,912, many of whom were burned alive. Some were burned in effigy. Others, convicted posthumously, were dug up and burned - and the property they left was confiscated from their heirs. Approximately 340,000 people, many of them Jews, suffered at the hands of the Inquisition, although the vast majority were given lesser punishments. The last Auto da Fe was held in 1790.

1482 January, POPE SIXTUS IV

Published his bull Numquam Dubitavimus (He Never Hesitated To). Sixtus permitted Ferdinand to appoint inquisitors to continue with his investigations and to root out any Jewish practice among converts to Christianity.Yet, Sixtus after receiving complaints from conversos regarding illegal procedures, initially protested that the inquisitors were abusing their powers. Ferdinand forcefully rejected the Popes remonstrations and intervention. The popes protest subsided.

1483 - 1485 CUIDAD REAL TRIALS (Spain)

Typical of the trials of the Inquisition, many of the prime witnesses were members of the accused's own family. Fernan Falcon voluntarily testified against many people in the community, including his father. The son of Carolina de Zamora, a monk, swore to see her burned. Juan de la Sierra convinced his mother, Leonor Gonzales, to return to Spain from Portugal. Upon her return she was tortured and burned.


Including Seville and Cordova . Ferdinand knew that this half measure would give him support in the south in his war against Granada, and yet not totally alienate the Jews whom he still needed. This was a foretaste of the edict of 1492 which mentions this expulsion.

1483 October 17, POPE SIXTUS IV (Spain)

Despite his previous protest, Pope Sixtus gave into Ferdinand's pressure (allegedly threatening to withhold military support from his kingdom of Sicily) and extended the authority of the Inquisition to Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia. This consolidated the Inquisition into one central body under Torquemada.

1483 December 19, SONCINO (Italy)

The first tractate of the Talmud (Brachot) was printed by Joshua Soncino. It included Rashi, Tosafot, Piskei Tosafot, and the commentaries of Maimonides and Mordecai b. Hillel.

1484 April 8, ARLES (France)

Local farmers, led by the town's monks, attacked the Jewish section of the town. A number of people were killed and 50 men were forced to accept Christianity.

1484 November 29, OPPOSITION TO INQUISITION ( Saragossa)

After its initial implementation on May 10, a local delegation met with the king requesting that the inquisition be stopped, as it violated the laws of Aragon. The king rejected their petition, and the inquisition though temporarily postponed , returned by the end of 1485.

1485 CRACOW (Poland)

The municipal council "recommended" that the Jewish community "of their own free will" agree to renounce its rights to trades and crafts which would compete with the Christian population - they agreed.


Local Conversos were accused of plotting to assassinate the two newly appointed inquisitors. Under the direction of the mayor, Gomez Manrique , six of them were hung, and local Rabbis were commanded to have their communities report any backsliding of Conversos.

1485 August 1, FRAY DIAGO DE MARCHENA ( Guadalupe, Spain)

A monk at the monastery of St. Jerome, was burned at the stake for Judaizing. A fellow priest, Fray Diego de Burgos was condemned to permanent imprisonment. During the trials, 21 of the 130 friars in Guadalupe were accused of Judaizing. Due to the sensitivity of the issue only two were made public. There are many other cases of active Conversos who took refuge in monasteries .

1485 September 17, PEDRO ARBUES (Spain)

The infamous inquisitor of Aragon was slain. Appointed by Torquemada, he was zealous in finding lapsed "new Christians" to bring before the Inquisition and have them burned alive. He was murdered in church by a group of Conversos which included the elderly Jaime de Montessa the deputy chief justice, in retaliation for his actions against their families. The perpetrators were caught, had their hands cut off, and were then beheaded and quartered. Other leaders such as Francisco de Santa Fe, the grandson of Joshua Ha-lorki (see 1413) ,committed suicide, or as in the case of Juan de la Sanchez (brother of the treasurer Gabriel Sanchez), fled to France. Arbues was canonized in 1867.

1486 FIRST PRAYER BOOK (Siddur) Italy)

Was printed in Italy by Soncino. This was the only time that the Siddur was published during the 15th century. For the most part hand-copied manuscripts (of which there were plenty) were used.

1486 February 12, AUTO DA FE AT TOLEDO (Spain)

The first in that city and one of the most lenient Auto da Fes anywhere. Seven hundred and fifty men and women were paraded through the streets . They were forced to recant, fined 1/5 of their property and permanently forbidden to wear decent clothes or hold office. A similar one on April 12 composed of about 900 people.

1486 April 12, AUTO DA FE AT TOLEDO (Spain)

This time more than 900 people were persecuted and humiliated at the Auto da Fe. Though many suffered on the forced penitential marches, no one was actually killed. The executions would begin only in august of that year.


Was printed at Soncino.

1488 OVADIA DI BERTINORO (Italy-Eretz Israel)

Arrived in Eretz Israel. As a scholar in Italy he wrote a commentary on the Mishna. In Israel he started a yeshiva and other benevolent institutions and improved Moslem-Jewish relations. He thus helped pave the way for the integration of the Spanish refugees soon to arrive.

1488 - 1575 (13 Nissan 5335) JOSEPH CARO (Safed)

A student of the Ari, he published his code of Jewish laws in 1567 after thirty-two years of work on Rav Jacob ben Asher's Arbah Turim. He called his work the Bet Yoseph (House of Joseph). It is better known as the Shulchan Aruch (Prepared Table) since it made every Jewish law available to everyone. Unfortunately, like Maimonides, he was criticized for placing religious growth in "hibernation". His death marked the end of the Rishonim (first commentators) and the beginning of the period of the Acharonim (last) - which continues to the present time.

1488 - 1529 MOSES BEN JACOB OF KIEV (Kaffa (Feodosiya), Crimea)

Aka Moshe Hagoleh- Rabbi , Talmudist and author. In 1506 while visiting Lida (Belarus) he was captured by the Tartars and held for ransom. Once freed he settled in Kaffa where he united members of the different Jewish communities with one siddur ( Prayer book) and one set of customs, known as Minhag Kaffa. There were later adopted by all the communities of the Crimea. His works include Sefer ha-Dikduk,Shushan Sodot, Oẓar ha-Shem, Ozat Nechmad and Sha'arei Ẓedek.

1489 - 1578 ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM AKRISH (Naples, Egypt- Constantinople)

Talmudic scholar, traveler. He was employed in Egypt to teach in the household of David ibn Zimra (see 1479). He used his earnings to purchase rare manuscripts and have them copied. Eventually while traveling the Venetian authorities confiscated them, but he managed to retrieve them and moved them to Constantinople. Unfortunately in 1569 a fire destroyed most of his invaluable collection.

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