Some conversos—Jews who converted to Catholicism—flourished in places of learning and commerce. However, many ruling Spanish—both secular and religious—viewed these Jews with deep suspicion heightened by the fact that some conversos were insincere. Some chose to save their social and commercial status by embracing the Catholic faith, but privately adhering to their Jewish practice and faith.
The Alhambra Decree, or the Edict of Expulsion, was issued on March 31, 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain—King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Ferdinand and Isabella took seriously the reports that some crypto-Jews who were not only privately practicing their former faith, but were secretly trying to draw other conversos back into the Jewish fold. In 1480, the king and queen created the Spanish Inquisition to investigate these suspicions; under the authority of this new institution, thousands of converted Jews were killed within 12 years. It is not known how many, if any, had lapsed from their new Christianity, or were trying to convince others to do the same.
The said decree was issued less than three months after the surrender of Granada—a vassal state to Spanish royals for more than two centuries. It was Juan de Coloma, secretary of the king and queen, who wrote it at the royalties’ command. Under the edict, Jews were only given four months and ordered to convert to Christianity or leave the country. However, Jews were promised royal "protection and security" for the effective three-month window before the deadline. They were permitted to take their belongings with them - except "gold or silver or minted money". In the edict, Jews were accused of trying "to subvert their holy Catholic faith and trying to draw faithful Christians away from their beliefs."
The punishment for any Jew who did not convert or leave by the deadline was death. The punishment for a non-Jew who sheltered or hid Jews was the