In order to deal with this issue, they introduced the Inquisition, but reports from the Inquisitors only confirmed their fears that converts to Christianity could not be considered secure in the faith until they could be prevented from having any contact with Jews. Shortly after the fall of Granada, with the Muslim threat quashed, and Christian emotion running high, they decided to move for expulsion. Therefore, they bear great personal responsibility, but it should be noted that they were heavily influenced by the Inquisition, and by political developments.
It has often been suggested that in the period leading up to the expulsion edict, greater intolerance and anti-Semitism had been developing in Europe generally. From the 13th century onwards, what Gavin Langmuir termed ‘chimeric antisemitism’ arguably made itself felt in Europe (Peters, 17). Evidence of popular resentment against Jews, as the perceived enemies of Christendom, is plentiful. For example, there were massacres in the Rhineland in 1096, as the First Crusade began. Spanish society, which had hitherto been characterised chiefly by its peaceful coexistence, was not exempt from this trend towards anti-Semitism. Altabé certainly adopts this viewpoint, as he states that ‘Muslim caliphs and Christian kings often referred to themselves with pride as emperors of the three religions’ (728). Until the 14th century, as Peters notes, the public life of the Iberian states was commonly termed convivencia, or ‘peacefully living together’ (9). Castile and Aragon were unique cases in Western Europe, in terms of their religious and cultural diversity. They had the most substantial populations of Muslims and Jews in the region, and despite the restrictions placed on the latter, Jews were still able to rise to positions of power, wealth and prominence. Jews were to be found among the advisers of the monarchs and lords, and many of the most exalted ...
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