History of the Jews in Cordoba
We need to go back to ancient times to talk about the first Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula. The first historians say that the first to arrive did so in the 10th century BC on board Phoenician ships heading for Tharsis (Tartessos), located in the estuary of the rivers Tinto and Odiel, where copper was abundant.
Some of the ships of this expedition headed for the estuary of the river Guadalquivir, going up the river until the current location of the city, where the Iberian-Turdetani lived back then. It is thought that the Jews stayed in that area, while the Phaenician expedition went back to their destination. When Claudio Marcelo founded Roman Córdoba, next to the Iberian-Turdetan settlement, the Jews had already been established here since long before.
The Hebrew population grew bigger and bigger, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem and their Temple by Titus and his troops around the year 70. However, we need to take into account the hard repression in Judea by Adrianus, which caused an even higher emigration to other areas, such as Córdoba.
During the Roman occupation, Jews were free to practice their religion, and they were even excused from those duties which were incompatible with the exercise of their faith, such as rituals of worship to the Emperor. This means that the Jewish people were protected by the Roman State in some way. The Jews, on the other hand, were divided in communities, which ruled themselves, and they even had their own jurisdiction.
This peaceful period of Roman domination finished with the invasion of northern peoples, such as the Visigoths. The first years of the 7th century were difficult, as there were even expulsion edicts being enacted for those who did not accept Christianity. However, the figure of Saint Isidore of Sevilla, who, in the IV Council of Toledo, celebrated in the year 633, banned the pressure on Jews with violent measures to convert them to Christianity.
The problem with oppressive measures is that, sooner or later, they turn against the oppressor, or at least in most cases, that is what happened, since the Jews saw positively the invasion of the peninsula by the Muslims, and they even helped them. Muslims allowed them to practice their religion and even trade, and that was why they established their own souks; others dedicated themselves to finances, and there were even managers in charge of supplying the Great Market of Córdoba. They occupied higher positions in the society of the time, such as administering the finances of the Treasure, or even important positions in the Umayyad court. The Jews of the Muslim Spain adopted and spoke Arabic and Romance language at the same time.
In Muslim times, the Jewish quarter was located outside the city, in the north, occupying the area called today Campo de la Merced and part of the neighborhood of Santa Marina. During the Umayyad Caliphate, it reached a great growth due to the constant arrival of merchants, most of them from the Middle East. This Jewish quarter was destroyed by the Almohads in 1148 when they occupied the city.
After the arrival of Fernando III the Saint in 1236, and until their expulsion, ordered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the Jews occupied the area between Arquillo Street, the Umayyad Alcázar and the eastern wall of the Medina, that is, what we know today as the Jewish quarter, as it has been preserved in some way. Its streets are narrow and winding, with one or two-floored houses around a square, with their own Synagogue, a market and even a cemetery.
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