Above: “Universal Light,” December 2016
Henry Charles Lea (1825- 1909)
Henry Charles Lea’s monumental four volume History of the Spanish Inquisition, published in 1906-1907 was considered groundbreaking at the time. It is opinionated and densely written, not exactly what you would pick to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but Lea researched his history from original sources, making his work still valuable as a scholarly resource. LibriVox undertook as a collaborative project to read all four volumes of the history. Three have been completed, the fourth is still underway. My contribution to the project was Chapter 3 of Volume I, “The Jews and the Conversos,” (pp. 81-144), which details the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella.
“The edict of expulsion was signed on March 30, 1492. It gave the entire Jewish population of Spain until July 31 in which to change their religion or to leave the country under penalty of death. During the interval… they were permitted to sell their effects and carry the proceeds with them, except that… the export of gold and silver (i.e. coined money ) was prohibited (!)”
“Men might admit that it was unwise from the point of view of statesmanship and damaging to the prosperity of the land, but this only enhanced the credit due to the sovereigns whose piety was equal to the sacrifice. Such were the convictions of the period in the fifteenth century after Christ had died for man, that this crime agasinst humanity met with nothing but applause among contemporaries.”
“The sacrifices entailed on the exiles were enormous. . . An eye-witness tells us that the Christians bought their property for a trifle… they were compelled to give a house for an ass and a vineyard for a little cloth or linen: in some places the miserable wretches, unable to get any price, burnt their homes … Penniless, friendless and despised they were cast forth into a world which had been taught that to oppress them was a service to the Redeemer. The whole world was pitiless to these wretched outcasts, against whom every man’s hand was raised. From Aragon and Cadiz they put to sea for Italy or the Moorish lands or whersoever fortune might drive them. Most of them had evil fate, robbery and murder by sea and in the lands of their refuge.”
“The sum of human misery was incomputable.” Henry Charles Lea
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