The Alhambra Decree

This is the decree of expulsion promulgated by Queen Isabella and Kind

Ferdinand of Spain in 1492, which forced the Spanish Jews, the

Sephardim, to leave Spain for ever.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen

of Castile, Leon, Aragon and other dominions of the crown - to the

prince Juan, to dukes, marquees, counts, the holy orders, priors, knight

commanders, lords of the castles, cavaliers, and to all Jews, men and

women of whatever age, and to anyone else this letter may concern -

health and grace unto you.

You well know that in our dominion, there are certain bad Christians

that judaised and committed apostasy against our Holy Catholic faith,

much of it the cause of communications between Jews and Christians.

Therefore, in the year 1480, we ordered that the Jews be separated from

the cities and towns of our domains and that they be given separate

quarters, hoping that by such separation the situation would be

remedied. And we ordered that and an Inquisition be established in

such domains; and in twelve years it has functioned, the Inquisition has

found many guilty persons.

Furthermore, we are informed by the Inquisition and others that the

great harm done to the Christians persists, and it continues because of

the conversations and communications that they have with the Jews, such

Jews trying by whatever manner to subvert our holy Catholic faith and

trying to draw faithful Christians away from their beliefs.

These Jews instruct these Christians in the ceremonies and observances

of their Law, circumcising their children, and giving them books with

which to pray, and declaring unto them the days of fasting, and meeting

with them to teach them the histories of their Law, notifying them when

to expect Passover and how to observe it, giving them the unleavened

bread and ceremonially prepared meats, and instructing them in things

from which they should abstain, both with regard to

food items and other things requiring observances of their Law of Moses,

making them understand that there is no other law or truth besides it.

All of which then is clear that, on the basis of confessions from such

Jews as well as those perverted by them, that it has resulted in great

damage and detriment of our holy Catholic faith.

And because we knew that the true remedy of such damages and

difficulties lay in the severing of all communications

between the said Jews with the Christians and in sending them forth from

all our reigns, we sought to content ourselves with ordering the said

Jews from all the cities and villages and places of Andalusia where it

appeared that they had done major damage, believing that this would

suffice so that those from other cities and villages and places in our

reigns and holdings would cease to commit the aforesaid. And because we

have been informed that neither this, nor the justices done

for some of the said Jews found very culpable in the said crimes and

transgressions against our holy Catholic faith, has been a complete

remedy to obviate and to correct such opprobrium and offense to the

Christian faith and religion; because every day it appears that the said

Jews increase in continuing their evil and harmful purposes wherever

they reside and converse; and because there is no place left whereby to

more offend our holy faith, as much as those which God has

protected to this day as in those already affected, it is left for this

Holy Mother Church to mend and reduce the matter to its previous state

inasmuch as, because of our frailty of humanity, it could occur that we

could succumb to the diabolical temptation that continually wars against

us so easily if its principal cause were not removed, which would be to

expel the said Jews from the kingdom. Because whenever a grave and

detestable crime is committed by some members of a given

group, it is reasonable that the group be dissolved or annihilated, the

minors for the majors being punished one for the other; and that those

who pervert the good and honest living on the cities and villages and

who by their contagion could harm others, be expelled from the midst the

people, still yet for other minor causes, that would be of harm to the

Republic, and all the more so for the major of these crimes, dangerous

and contagious as it is.

Therefore, with the council and advice of the eminent men and cavaliers

of our reign, and of other persons of knowledge and conscience of our

Supreme Council, after much deliberation, it is agreed and resolved that

all Jews and Jewesses be ordered to leave our kingdoms, and that they

never be allowed to return.

And we further order in this edict that all Jews and Jewesses of

whatever age that reside in our domain and territories, that they leave

with their sons and daughters. their servants and relatives, large and

small, of whatever age, by the end of July of this year, and that they

dare not return to our lands, not so much as to take a step on them not

trespass upon them in any other manner whatsoever. Any Jew who does not

comply with this edict and is to be found in our kingdom and

domains, or who return to the kingdom in any manner, will incur

punishment by death and confiscation of all their belongings.

We further order that no person in our kingdom of whatever station or

noble status hide or keep or defend any Jew or Jewess, either publicly

or secretly, from the end of July onwards, in their homes or elsewhere

in our reign, upon punishment of loss of their belongings, vassals,

fortresses, and hereditary privileges.

So that the said Jews may dispose of their household and belongings in

the given time period, for the present we provide our assurance of royal

protection and security so that , until the end of the month of July,

they may sell and exchange their belongings and furniture and other

items, and to dispose of them freely as they wish; and that during said

time, no one is

to do them harm or injury or injustice to their persons or to their

goods, which is contrary to justice, and which shall incur the

punishment that befalls those who violate our royal security.

Thus we grant permission to the said Jews and Jewesses to take out their

goods and belongings out of our reigns, either by sea or by land, with

the condition that they not take out either gold or silver or minted

money or any other items prohibited by the laws of the kingdom.

Therefore, we order all councilors, justices, magistrates. cavaliers,

shield-bearers, officials, good men of the city of Burgos and of other

cities and villages of our reigns and dominions, and all our vassals and

subjects, that they observe and comply with this letter and all that is

contained in it, and that they give all the help and favor that is

necessary for its execution, subject to punishment by our sovereign

grace and by confiscation of all their goods and offices for our royal

state house.

And so that this may come to the notice of all, and so that no one may

pretend ignorance, we order that this edict be proclaimed in all the

plazas and usual meeting places of any given city; and that in the major

cities and villages of the diocese, that it be done by the town crier in

the presence of the public scribe. and that neither one nor the other

should do the contrary of what was desired, subject to the punishment by

our sovereign grace and deprivation of their offices and by

confiscation of their goods to whosoever does the contrary.

And we further order that evidence be provided to the court, in the

manner of signed testimony, regarding the manner in which the edict is

being carried out.

Given in this city of Granada on the thirty first day of March in the

year of our Lord Jesus Christ -1492. Signed, I, the King, I the Queen,

Juan de Coloma, Secretary of the King and Queen, which I have written by

order of our Majesties.