Provisions relating to Jewish Moneylenders in the Medieval Cortes of Castile-León

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According to both Jewish law and Christian canon law, a Jew could lend money with interest to a Christian, and vice versa. Nevertheless, from the 13th century on, Christian canon law revealed its anti-usury policies more clearly than before. In Castile-León, the Cortes (parliamentary assemblies) conducted a fiery struggle against Jewish moneylenders, demanding remission, partial forgiveness, or moratoria of Christians' debts to Jews. From 1258, when the first law concerning usury was established by King Alfonso X, until 1476, Jewish moneylending and the debts of Christians to Jews were the most common subject dealt with by the Cortes of Castile. Dwells on the abortive attempt by Alfonso XI in 1348 to prohibit Jewish moneylending - the Cortes of Alcalá de Henares itself requested that the law be repealed in 1351. Anti-usury laws continued in the 14th-15th centuries, during which the number of Jewish lenders diminished and the number of Christian lenders grew; nevertheless, the enmity of the populace (represented by the Cortes), nourished by the belief that a majority of Jews participated in usury, did not abate. Anti-usury motifs were present in religious incitement against Jews, which was on the rise, and were among the reasons for the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, in one of the versions of the royal edict in preparation.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)93-108
Number of pages16
JournalHispania Judaica Bulletin
StatePublished - 2014

IHP Publications

  • ihp
  • יהודי ספרד -- קסטיליה
  • Jews -- Spain -- Castile
  • הלוואות
  • Loans
  • אנטישמיות -- ספרד
  • Antisemitism -- Spain

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • Moneylenders -- Spain
  • Jews -- Spain -- Castile -- History -- To 1500
  • Jews -- Legal status, laws, etc -- Spain
  • Jews -- Spain -- Economic conditions
  • Usury -- Spain
  • Castilla y León (Spain)


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