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Seville, the tunnels and the pogrom of 1391

The Jewish quarter in Seville was, after Toledo, the second most important Jewish quarter in the Iberian Peninsula. What remains today is a vestige of a community that flourished, lived and contributed much to the development of a society that looked at it with prejudice, suspicion and hatred.

From the 13th century onwards, the measures imposed on the material segregation of the Jews became increasingly violent. This is how the "juderias" emerged as neighborhoods separated from the rest of the local population, generally delimited by a wall.

In the 14th century, anti-Jewish motivations were exacerbated and two figures appeared within the religious field of the Catholic Church who promoted it even more. The first of these was the Dominican friar Fray Vicente Ferrer, who advocated the forced conversion of the Jews to Christianity, and the second was the Sevillian clergyman, Archdeacon of Ecija, Fernán Martínez (Provisor of the Archbishopric of Seville), who, through his preaching loaded with anti-Jewish sentiment, stirred up hatred towards the Jews in the most popular sectors of the Sevillian population, encouraging the execution of violent acts against them.

This, added to the political events and the disputes of power in the Crown produced the propitious atmosphere to give free rein to the physical violence against the Jew.

In June of 1391 this propagandistic anti-Semitic process is exposed when the Jewish quarter of Seville is attacked. The burning of synagogues takes place and according to the records of López de Ayala (1332-1407), chronicler of the Sevillian court, 4000 Jews lose their lives.Their goods are looted and thousands are forcibly converted to Christianity. Thus begins a series of assaults on the Jewish quarters, which spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula, from the Crown of Castile to the Jewish quarters under the dominion of the Crown of Aragon.

In 2022 I visited the old Jewish quarter of Seville, which according to historians was located in the area that today would include the neighborhoods of Santa Cruz, Santa María de la Blanca and San Bartolomé. And in this tour, I met the Hotel "Las casas de la Judería", in whose foundations there is a network of old tunnels, nowadays updated for the enjoyment of guests and visitors. This Hotel, conceived from 27 houses connected to each other by various passageways and courtyards, adjoins the old Synagogue Santa Maria de la Blanca, which was converted into a church after the attacks of 1391.

This subway network of tunnels FOR LIFE , passable under the hotel facilities, speaks of the danger and persecution with which the Jewish community lived within its own walls.



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