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The Legal Status of Spanish Jews During the Visigothic Catholic Era: From Reccared (586) to Reccesswinth (672)

  • Alfredo Mordechai Rabello


This article is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Professor Ze'ev Falk teacher and researcher, who always displayed a great interest in the history of the Jewish People.

Foreword: The Jews had been living in Spain since the Roman period, when Spain became part of the Roman Empire. Much later, Spain was conquered by the Visigoths. King Alaric II (484–507) enacted a code based largely on the Theodosian Code (438), namely the Breviarium Alaricianum (506), of which many laws dealt with the Jews. During this period the Visigoths were Arian and their treatment of the Jews was relatively good. In this article I shall examine the way Visigothic Catholic Spain dealt with the Jews and Judaism.



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1 See Juster, J., “The Legal Condition of the Jews Under the Visigothic Kings” (brought up-to-date by A.M. Rabello) (1976) 2 Isr. L.R. 248ff., 391ff., 563ff. (hereinafter: Juster-Rabello); Rabello, A.M., The Jews in Visigothic Spain in Light of the Legislation (Jerusalem, 1983, in Hebrew); idem, “The Situation of the Jews in Roman Spain”, in Isaac, B. and Oppenheimer, A., eds., Studies on the Jewish Diaspora in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods (Tel Aviv, 1996,) 159ff.

2 Lombardi, P., “Los Matrimonios Mixtos en el derecho de la iglesia visigoda”, (19571958) 27–28 Ann. Hist. Derecho Español (= AHDE) 61seq.; Kleggens, E.N. Van, Hispanic Law Until the End of the Middle Ages (Edinburgh, 1968) 72.

3 Isidoras of Seville, Historia Gothorum (624), cap. 51.

4 Zeumer, K., “Über zwei neuentdeckte westgothische Gesetze”, (1898) NA XXIII 481; Urena, Rafael de y Smenjaud, , La legislacion gotica — hispana (Madrid, 1905) 296, 323; Gallo, A. Garcia, “Nacionalidad y Territorialidad del derecho en la epoca visigoda”, (19361941) 13 AHDE 193249. By “territorial jurisdiction” we refer to the fact that the law obligated whoever lived in the same territory, as opposed to “personal jurisdiction”, according to which the law obligates certain citizens in a specific territory (usually those belonging to a particular nationality such as the Romans, Visigoths, etc.).

5 Latourette, K.S., History of the Expansion of Christianity (vol. II, London, 1944) 1927; Livermore, H., History of Portugal (Cambridge, 1941) 21ff.; Orlandis, J., “El Christianismo en la Espana Visigoda”, (1956) 1 Estudios Visigoticos 1ff.; Netanyahu, B., The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain (New York, 1995) 28ff. — “The Spanish Scene”.

6 Albert, B.S., “Un nouvel examen de la politique anti-juive wisigothique” (1976) 135 Revue des Etudes Juives 3ff.

7 Dozy, R., Spanish Islam: A History of the Moslems in Spain (London, 1913) 215; see also Netanyahu, B., The Origins, supra n. 5, at 34f.

8 Bachrach, B.S., “A Reassessment of Visigothic Jewish Policy (589–711)” (1973) 78 Am. Historical R. 1ff.; Gorres, F., “König Rekared der Katholische und das Judentum (586–601)”, (1897) 40 Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie 284ff.; Blumenkranz, B., Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidental (430–1096) (Paris, 1963) 107f.; Thompson, E.A., The Goths in Spain (Oxford, 1969) 110f., 165; Albert, “Un nouvel examen”, supra n. 6.

9 King, P.D., Law and Society in the Visigothic Kingdom (Cambridge, 1972) 132: “…The conversion provided the strongest impetus to persecution in that both the unitary and the Christian premises of Visigothic society were denied by the survival of a large group within the territorial boundaries of the kingdom but beyond its ideological confines”.

10 Bachrach, supra n. 8, at 13ff.

11 See Albert's critical notes, “Un nouvel examen de la politique anti-juive…” supra n. 6.

12 Graetz, H., Les Juifs d'Espagne (Paris, 1872) 17.

13 Linder, A., “The Roman Rule and the Jews in the Constantine Era”, (1975) 44 Tarbiz 95ff.

14 For a summary on the changes that the Christian conversion process (including the issue of baptism) underwent in the course of the Christian Era's first centuries, see Robinson, W., “Historical Survey of the Church's Treatment of New Converts with Reference to Pre- and Post-Baptismal Instruction”, JTS (vol. XLII, Oxford, 1941).

15 Compare with Can. 16, Council of Elvira (306). On this Council and the Jews, see A.M. Rabello, “The Situation of the Jews”, supra n. 1, at 163ff. (Canon 16 is reported there, at 164, n. 8 in English translation). See also Netanyahu, supra n. 5, at 1185ff.; and see Can. 14, Council of Calcedonia (451); Can. 19, 2nd Council of Orleans (533); Can. 6, 9, Council of Clermon (535), Can. 13, 3rd Council of Orleans; See also, Rabello, A.M., “Il problema dei matrimoni fra Ebrei e Cristiani nella legislazione imperiale e in quella della Chiesa (IV–VI secolo)” (1988) VII Atti Accademia Romanistica Costantiniana 213ff.

16 See Rabello, A.M., The Jews in Visigothic Spain in Light of the Legislation (Jerusalem, 1983, in Hebrew) 178; as well as Monzo, , “El bautismo de los judios en la Espana Visigoda” (Rome, 1953) 11 Cuadernos de los trabajos de Derecho 111ff.

17 Edictum de confirmatione concilii; Orlandis, J., “Sobra el origen de la ‘lex in confirmatione concilii’” (1921) 41 AHDE 112ff.; see also, Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 568, n. 198: “In conformity with the opinion of the Council, our glorious king has ordered to be inserted among the canons, that Jews shall not be permitted to have Christian wives or concubines … if, however, any children be born from such union, they are to be brought to baptism” (Vives, J., Concilios visigoticos e hispano-romanos. Espana cristiana, textos, 1 (Barcelona, 1963) 129); see also infra n. 22.

18 Bachrach, supra n. 8, at 14f. and n. 13.

19 B.S. Albert, supra n. 6, at 15ff., mentions that the Jews wished to convert their slaves as well, therefore their wish to convert their sons should come as no surprise.

20 Otero, A., “La Patria potestad en el derecho his. esp.”, (1956) 26 AHDE.

21 Assaf, S., “Slavery and Slave-Trade Among the Jews During the Middle Ages”, (1939) 4 Zion 91ff.; Urbach, E.E., “The Laws Regarding Slavery as a Source for Social History of the Period of the Second Temple, the Mishnah and Talmud” (London, 1964) 1 Papers of the Institute of Jewish Studies 1ff.

22 “…nor shall the Jews be permitted to purchase Christian slaves to serve them…. If any truly Christian slaves are contaminated by them into following the Jewish rites or even being circumcised, they shall be liberated without compensation, and they shall revert to the Christian faith” (see Vives, , Concilios, 129; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 404, n. 128).

23 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 572–573, n. 214/5.

24 “No Jew shall Circumcise a Christian Slave”: “The following law is derived from others of great severity, which have been enacted to punish the perfidy of the Jews; and it is hereby decreed that whoever attempts to commit any of the crimes prohibited by former laws, or contained in any amendments to the same, or presumes to act in defiance of said laws, shall be either stoned to death, or burned by such of his own countrymen as may have entered into an agreement to do so. However, if the king, in his mercy, should decide to spare the life of such a criminal, he shall be delivered up as a slave to whomever the king may select, and all his property shall be given to others; and this shall be done in such a way that the culprit can never come into possession of his property again, or recover his liberty in the future”; see English translation of the Visigothic Code, by Scott, S.P., The Visigothic Code (Boston, 1910); see also, Rabello, supra n. 16, at 137.

25 Indeed, the Jews tried to convince the King to abolish the decree, yet the King remained entrenched with his idea, receiving, as a result, much praise from Pope Gregory the Great. As to the Pope's approach towards the Jews, see Katz, S., “Pope Gregory the Great and the Jews” (1933) 24 JQR 113ff.; Blumenkranz, B., Les auteurs chretiens latins du Moyen age sur les Juifs et le Judaism (Paris, 1963) 83; Bachrach expresses doubt as to the correctness of the information that reached the Pope, though Albert, rightly, rejects his doubt.

26 Blumenkranz, supra n. 8, at 105ff.

27Gallia Narbonensis”; see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 121.

28 See, King, supra n. 9, at 6; Thompson, supra n. 8 at 159ff., 165, 167; L.V. 12.2.13: “Concerning Christian Slaves who are Known to have been Sold or Liberated by Jews”: “Any slave belonging to the Jews, who has been baptized shall be returned, and be liberated by them”. See also Scott, supra n. 24.

29 Rabello, A.M., “Sisebuto re di Spagna (612–621) ed il battesimo forzato” (1985) 51 Rassegna Mensile di Israel 33ff. It should be noted that from the perspective of Jewish Law, the marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew is invalid; see also Netanyahu, supra n. 5, at 35.

30 “Under no Circumstances shall Christian Slaves attach themselves to Jews or be Admitted into their Sect”: “…Where the unlawful marital unions hereinbefore mentioned have already taken place, we hereby decree that the infidel party to the same shall have a right to embrace the true faith, should he or she desire to do so. Should, however, said party refuse, the marriage shall be dissolved, and the recalcitrant person shall be driven into perpetual exile…”; see Scott, supra n. 24; see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 140

31 Fontaine, J., Isidore de Seville: Traite'de la nature (Bordeaux, 1960) 1ff.; Blumenkranz, supra n. 25, at 88ff. We should bear in mind, that the King requested Isidore to author a few essays.

32 See Fontaine, ibid., at 151 ff.

33 Baron, S.W., A Social and Religious History of the Jews (vol. III, New York, 1957) 39.

34 There are no historians today who argue that Sisebut's anti-Jewish laws are the result of the Byzantine Caesar Heracles' influence, as Goubert contended: Goubert, P., “Influences bysantines sur l'Espagne Wisigothique”, (1946) 4 Revue des Etudes Bysantines 111f., 120; opposing this view are Blumenkranz, King and Thompson.

35 Albert, supra n. 6, at 25ff. For example, Bachrach saw in Sisebut's laws of slavery an attempt to create a new category, who would support the Monarchy in appreciation of having been liberated. On the other hand, the King wanted to damage the Jews' economic prosperity and political influence, by damaging the slave-owners, the slave-traders and the landlords, whose estates were cared for by the Christian coloni. Accurately, Albert maintains that the Jews were able to continue using slaves by adhering to the law, especially since the status of a liberated slave was not very honorable, and therefore the King could not count on their wide support.

36 On Justinian and the Jews, see Rabello, A.M., Giustiniano, Ebrei e Samaritani alla luce delle fonti storico-letterarie, ecclesiastiche e giuridiche, Monografie del Vocabolario di Giustiniano (vol. 1, Milano 1987; vol. 2, Milano, 1988).

37 Blumenkranz, supra n. 8, at 108.

38 See Volli, G., Il Caso Mortara, nel primo centenario (Roma, 1950) 9ff. deals with Canon 50 of the 3rd Council of Toledo, and its ramifications; see also Eadem, , Il caso Mortara, nell'opinione pubblica e nella politica del tempo (Bologna, 1961); Korn, B.W., The American Reaction to the Mortara Case: 1858–59 (Cincinnati, 1957); Kertzer, D.I., The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (New York, 1997), esp. 48ff.

39 Some scholars, like Bachrach, maintain that Reccared was killed by his opponents, among them the Jews, as well. Albert rejects this hypothesis.

40 See Hacohen, R. Josef, The Vale of Tears in Rabello, , supra n. 16, at 264; Baron, History, supra n. 33, at 40, who writes: “…this very formulation bears the remarks of later medieval practice. The new regime doubtless merely closed its eyes to the violations of existing prohibitions, and tolerated both the return of Jewish exiles from France and elsewhere, and the public profession of Judaism by persons baptized under the previous regime”. See also B. Netanyahu, supra n. 5, at 37f.

41 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 564

42 Genesis 49:10, The Jerusalem Bible (Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, 1992) — The Jews meant to say, that, in spite of their low political standing, the blessing (“The staff shall not depart from Yehuda…”) of Jacob, the nation's father, was still very much in force. Over the years the blessing found its practical expression through the Patriarch and the Exilarch.

43 See Hispaniensis, Isidoras, Contra Judaeos, 12.

44 Some researchers claim that a short while beforehand a similar attempt by Judila was impeded; we have no literary source mentioning him, though two coins with Judila Rex inscribed on them have been found; Thompson, supra n. 8, at 175; Bachrach, supra n. 8, at 20. Bachrach, B. elaborates in “Judacot and Judila: a mise au point”, (1977) 31 Classical Folia 41ff. claiming that Judila was of Jewish origin and he sought to devise a scheme against the new King in order to try to maintain the existing policy towards the Jews. Hence, the response of the Council of Toledo and its support in favor of Sisenanth. On the various problems linked to the name IUDA, see also: Rabello, A.M., “Sui rapporti fra Diocleziano e gli Ebrei”, Atti dell'Accademia Romanistica Constantiniana (Perugia, 1976) 183ff.

45 “By command of the most excellent Lord and King Sisenand, this holy council has decreed that Jews and their descendants are not to hold public employments, as scandal would thereby be given to Christians; therefore, provincial judges, together with ecclesiastics, are to prevent their fraudulently obtaining such employments, and their succeeding therein. Should any judge tolerate such proceedings, he is to be excommunicated the same as for sacrilege, and the person that obtains the office shall be publicly scourged” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 213; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 584, n. 261). See also Thompson's comments: “The Fourth Council now banned on pain of a public whipping Jews and persons born of Jewish parents from holding any public office, because, it was alleged, they used such offices to inflict injury on Christians. Roman provincial governors (indices provinciarum) — for the Jews were Roman citizens — and bishops, were to see that this law was enforced, governors who connived being liable to excommunication” (Thompson, supra n. 8, at 178).

46 In the words of Juster: “The words Judaei aut hi qui ex judaeis are generally translated ‘the Jews or their sons’, but I would rather construe them as referring to Christians of Jewish extraction”, Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 584, at n. 261.

47 “By the decree of the most glorious prince, this council has resolved, that no Jew shall have Christian servants, nor purchase Christian slaves, nor retain such by gift of any person. As it is shameful that the members of Christ should serve the ministers of Antichrist. Henceforward, should any Jew dare to keep Christian slaves of either sex, they shall be liberated, and restored to their freedom” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 214; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 576, n. 230).

48 “In respect to Jews, this holy synod has resolved, that in future no one shall be compelled to receive our faith; for God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will be hardeneth; as such persons are not saved unwillingly, but by consent, that the attribute of justice be preserved entire. For as man perished by his own free will in submitting to the serpent, so when the grace of God calleth, every man is saved by believing, by the conversion of his own mind. As to those already forced into Christianity, as was done in the time of the most devout prince Sisebut, since it is evident they have partaken of the holy sacrament, have received the grace of baptism, have been anointed with the Christ, and received the body and blood of our Lord, it is right they should be obliged to retain the faith they have undertaken, although under compulsion and necessity, lest the name of God be blasphemed, and the faith they have assumed be considered worthless and depicable” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 210; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 263, n. 14, 18; also at 410, n. 150).

49 “The avarice of some persons is so great, that, as the Apostle saith, through covetousness they have erred from the faith. Many ecclesiastics and laymen have, by accepting presents from the Jews, bestowed their protection on infidelity; such persons are deservedly to be held as belonging to Antichrist, who thus act contrary to Christ. Therefore, whoever henceforth, whether bishop, ecclesiastic, or layman, shall afford them his protection for reward or favour, to the disparagement of the Christian faith, let him become an alien from the Catholic Church and the Kingdom of God, as a truly profane and sacrilegious person; for it is right that he should be severed from the body of Christ, who makes himself a patron of Christ's enemies” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 211; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 265, n. 21).

50 “Many who have formerly been elevated to the Christian faith, are now known, in contempt of Christ, not only to practice Jewish ceremonies, but even have dared to practise the abomination of circumcision. By the advice of our most pious and religious prince, Sisenand the king, this holy Synod hath decreed that such transgressors, being apprehended on the authority of the prelates, shall be recalled to the true worship, according to Christian doctrine, so that those who will not amend of their own accord, may be compelled by sacerdotal correction. Should such persons as they may have circumcised be children of the above, they shall be taken from the society of their parents; and if slaves, they shall be liberated in compensation for the injury” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 210; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 410, n. 150/1).

51 “…the sons and daughters of baptized Jews are to be separated from their parents, lest they be involved in their errors. They are to be placed in monasteries, or with Christian men and women who fear God, that by their society they may learn the worship of the true faith, that, being thus better instructed, they may improve in morals and belief” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 211; Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 410, n. 151).

52 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 410, n. 152: “If Jews that have been baptized, afterwards renounce Christianity, and thus become hable to any penalty, their believing children shall not be excluded from inheriting their property; for it is written, ‘The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father’” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 212).

53 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 411, n. 154: “The company of the wicked frequently corrupteth the good, how much more that of the viciously inclined. Therefore, there is to be no communion between Jews that have been converted to the Christian faith, and those who adhere to their ancient rites, lest by associating with them they be perverted. Therefore, any that have been baptized, that do not avoid the society of unbelievers, shall be given over to Christians, and the former be publicly scourged” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 212).

54 Vives, supra n. 17, at 213.

55 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 582, n. 254: “He who is faithless to God cannot be true to man. Therefore Jews who were formerly Christians, but now deny the faith in Christ, are not to be admitted as witnesses, although they declare themselves to be Christians. For if suspected in regard to their faith in Christ, their testimony on human affairs is unsafe. No confidence can be placed in the testimony of those brought up in falsehood; nor is credit due to those that reject the true faith”. According to Netanyhu, was not … an order of expulsion from Spain of all the Jews who might refuse to convert to Christianity”, The Origins, supra n. 5, at 38.

56 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 266, n. 26: “…We hereby deliberately resolve, that whoever in future shall obtain the sovereignty, shall not ascend the throne before he has sworn not to permit the Jews to infringe this holy faith, and in nowise to be seduced, either through neglect or cupidity to favour their perfidy…” (Vives, supra n. 17, at 236).

57 Braulio, Epistula 21 (Patrologia Latina 80, 667–670). A translated version appears in Lynch's book: Lynch, C.H. and Galindo, P., San Braulio, obispo de Saragossa (631–651), Su vide y sus obras (Madrid, 1950) 362365. See pp. 153ff, for the debate on the Jewish problem; compare with pp. 131ff. as it appears in the English version: Lynch, C.H., Saint Braulio, Bishop of Saragossa (631–651). His Life and Writings (Washington, 1938); Blumenkranz, supra n. 25, at 103ff.

58 This is where the Bishop corrects the Pope, who attributed this passage to Ezekiel! “The testimony is Isaiah's and not Ezekiel's, though, all the prophets speak in the same spirit”.

59 According to Blumenkranz, this was only possible in Italy, where such incidences could occur without causing a national outcry, contrary to what would have happened in Spain.

60 Thompson, supra n. 8, at 135.

61 Etymologiae, V, 24, 19.

62 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 266, n. 27, at 399, n. 119: “The rites of the Jews and their holiday ceremonial, their Sabbath and carnal circumcision, as well as all their other superstitions and rites and ceremonies, we do reject, abominate and execrate; and we promise to live according to the Catholic law by using the same food as the Christians, save that which is repugnant to us by its nature and not by superstition; for all what God has created is good”.

63 See Herr, M.D., “Persecutions and Martyrdom in Hadrian's Days”, Scripta Hierosolymitana (vol. 23, Jerusalem) 117.

64 See Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 401, n. 122: “But also all the various Scriptures used by our tribe in the Synagogues, whatever be their authority in point of doctrine, and even such as are called ‘repetitious’ (Mishnah) or apocryphical, we promise to deliver in your presence, so that no trace remains with us of their sinister superstition. And we declare that all those of the speeches which we used to venerate under the Jewish rite, are despicable and abominable”. [But see already Justinian's Novella, 146 art. 2, in Parkes' translation: “But the Mishnah, or as they call it the second tradition, we prohibit entirely. For it is not part of the sacred books, nor is it handed down by divine inspiration through the prophets, but the handiwork of man, speaking only of earthly things, and having nothing of the divine in it. But let them read the holy words themselves, rejecting the commentaries, and not concealing what is said in the sacred writings, and disregarding the vain writings which do not form a part of them, which have been devised by them themselves for the destruction of the simple. By these instructions we ensure that no one shall be penalised or prohibited who reads the Greek or any other language. And their elders, Archipericitae and presbyters, and those called magistrates, shall not by any machinations or anathemas have power to refuse this right unless by chance they wish to suffer corporal punishment and the confiscation of their goods, before they yield to our will and to the commands which are better and dearer to God which we enjoin.” On Justinian's Novella 146 see Rabello, A.M. “The Legal Condition of the Jews in the Roman Empire” Aufstieg und Niedergang der Roemischen Welt II 23 10, (Berlin-New York, 1980) 710f.; Idem, Giustiniano, Ebrei e Samaritani, op. cit., supra n. 36 (vol. II) 814ff.

65 For the first time the issue of the baptized Jew's jurisdiction appears. The Jews promise to kill any baptized Jew who deviates from the Christian way of life. Later we will deal with a similiar declaration in Reccesswinth's days (Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 411).

66 L.V. XII.2.16: “Concerning Judaizing Christians”: “As the crime of the hypocrisy should be deplored by all Christians; for the same reason it should be evident, that no person, under any circumstances, is deserving of pardon, who is proved to have renounced a good religion for a bad one. Therefore, because a cruel and astounding act of presumption should be expiated by a still more cruel punishment, we declare, by the following edict: that, whenever it has been proved that a Christian, of either sex, and especially one born of Christian parents, has practised circumcision, or any other Jewish rite, or anything else forbidden by God, he shall be put to an ignominious death by the zeal and co-operation of catholics, under the most ingenious and excruciating tortures that can be inflicted; that he may learn how horrible and detestable that offence is, which he has so infamously perpetrated. All the property of such a person shall be confiscated for the benefit of the royal treasury, in order that his heirs and relatives may not, through consenting to his errors, be contaminated by them.” (Scott, supra n. 24); see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 143.

67 Bachrach, supra n. 8, at 23.

68 Graetz, supra n. 12, at 31.

69 Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 266, n. 28.

70 On his regard towards the Catholic Church, see Thompson, supra n. 8, at 195ff. Accurately, Thompson writes: Chindaswinth showed no enthusiasm for persecuting the Jews.

71 Supra n. 65.

72 Thompson, supra n. 8, at 196–197; Bachrach, supra n. 8, at 23.

73 C.H. Lynch, St. Braulio, Bishop of Saragossa, op. cit., at 81; Bachrach, supra n. 8, at 25, points to the connection between the Bishop and the King as an explanation to the King's extreme opposition to the Jews.

74 On the abolishment of the Roman Law, see: Thompson, supra n. 8, at 296, 206; Vinogradoff, P., Roman Law in Medieval Europe, (Oxford, 1929) 31f; Vives, J.V., Approaches to the History of Spain, (Berkeley, 1970) 26. This Code, generally, named Lex Visigothorum (Leges V) Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), LL. V., sectio I, Leges Nationum Germanicarum, I, pp. 35–456.

75 For the abridged version: Zeumer, K., ed., Leges Visigothorum antiquiores (Hannover, 1894) who merely brings Reccesswinth's edition. For the English translation: Scott, S.P., The Visigothic Code (Boston, 1910). For a general look at this law: King, P.D., Law and Society in the Visigothic Kingdom (Cambridge, 1972). On Braulio's part in the preparing of the Code, see: Lynch, C.H., Saint Braulio, pp. 135ff.; Anon, “Lex Wisigothorum”, Novissimo Digesto Italiano, LX, (1963) 825f.; Blumenkranz, supra n. 25, at 103.

76 “…and therefore, with the view to comply most devotedly with the clemency of the prince, whose wish it is that our Lord may consolidate his royal throne by winning over for the Christain faith the multitudes of the mortals, and holding it to be unworthy of a prince of the orthodox faith to rule over sacrilegious subjects, lest the flock of the faithful be contaminated by contact with the unbelieving, nothing else was established in regard to the latter in this our decree, than that we ourselves as well as our successors do confirm and give full effect to the resolutions of the Council of Toledo that was held during the reign of King Sisenand, of blessed memory. And whoever wishes to disagree with the resolutions of that synod, let him know that he shall be convicted of actual sacrilege.” (Vives, Concilios, supra n. 17, at 285; see also Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 267, n. 32).

77 See the end of the 12th Toledo Council's Canons.

78 Juster, J., “La condition légale des Juifs sous les rois visigoths”, Mélanges Girard (Paris, 1912) 581.

79 “No Jew shall Circumcise a Christian Slave”: “It shall not be lawful for a Jew to purchase a Christian slave, or to accept of one as a gift. Should a Jew purchase such a slave or accept of him as a gift and then circumcise him, he shall lose the price of said slave, and the latter shall be free. The Jew who circumcises a Christian slave shall forfeit all his property to the king. Any slave of either sex who is unwilling to become a Jew, shall receive his or her freedom.” (Scott, supra n. 24); see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 137.

80 “Concerning Christian Slaves…”, supra n. 28; “Under no Circumstances…”, supra n. 30; see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 138, 142.

81 “All Christians are Forbidden to Defend or Protect a Jew, by Either Force or Favor”: “To the former laws, which we, and our predecessors, have promulgated for the purpose of annihilating the perfidy of the Jews, it becomes necessary to add the following one to sanction and strengthen those which have been heretofore published. Now, after we have repudiated the profane enemies of the Holy Faith, and put an end to the wicked schemes of these perfidious wretches, it becomes necessary for us to confirm those things which have already been done, and arrange them suitably and in order; for in the exact proportion as the skilful artificer gives form to the invention of his genius, so, in just such proportion does his work disclose the strength and beauty of his mind. Therefore, lest the Jews should, by means of any artifice, and through their unremitting perseverance, obtain the legal sanction for their profane rites so much desired by them, we hereby decree that no person belonging to any religious order or rank whatsoever, or any of the royal officials, of high or low degree, or any individual of any station or family, or any prince or person in authority, shall encourage any Jew, whether baptized or not baptized, to remain in the practice of his detestable faith and customs; or shall conceal the fact that he is doing so; or shall induce those who have been baptized to return to the observance of their perfidious ceremonies. No one shall attempt, under any pretext, to defend such persons in the continuance of their depravity, even should they be under his patronage. No one, for any reason, or in any manner, shall attempt by word or deed, to aid or protect such persons, either openly or secretly, in their opposition to the Holy Faith and the Christian religion.

“If any bishop or other ecclesiastic should be guilty of such an offence, or if any member of the laity should be convicted of the same, he shall be excluded from the society of Christians, be excommunicated, and forfeit the fourth of all his property, which shall be confiscated for the beneft of the royal treasury. For it is eminently proper that those should be separated from the communion of the faithful, and be punished by the loss of their possessions, who reject the love of Christ, and, in the aid of His enemies, infamously attack the truth. The penalties for such offences shall remain the same as were provided in a former law by King Sisibutus, of holy memory.” (Scott, supra n. 24); see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 142.

82 See Juster-Rabello, supra n. 1, at 269, n. 37.

83 “No Jew shall Testify Against a Christian; and Under what Circumstances the Descendants of Jews may Testify”: “If he who is convicted of having uttered a falsehood becomes infamous in the sight of all men, with how much more reason should he be excluded from giving testimony who denies the truth of the Divine Faith? Jews, whether baptized or unbaptized, are therefore forbidden to testify against Christians. The descendants of Jews, however, if they are of good morals, and adherents to the Faith, shall be permitted to give evidence among Christians; but not unless their morals and their belief shall be vouched for by either the king, a priest or a judge.” (Scott, supra n. 24); see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 136.

84 See supra n. 81; see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 142.

85 See supra n. 30; see also Rabello, supra n. 16, at 140.

86 Blumenkranz, supra n. 8, at 119, n. 196.

87 Dinur, B.S., Israel in the Diaspora (A), 1, at 177, n. 14.

88 Thompson, E.A., The Goths in Spain, supra n. 8, at 207; see also Netanyhau, B., The Origins of the Inquisition, supra n. 5, at 40.

89 I would like to thank my research assistant, Mr. Dorian Fogel, for his help in the preparation of the English version of this article.

* Montesquieu Professor of Legal History and Comparative Law, Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Legal Status of Spanish Jews During the Visigothic Catholic Era: From Reccared (586) to Reccesswinth (672)

  • Alfredo Mordechai Rabello


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