The attacks and the conversions

On the 5th of August 1391, the Jewish community of Barcelona was brutally attacked. This was one of many attacks on Jewries that took place throughout the Iberian Peninsula that year, instigated by the archdeacon of Écija, Ferran Martínez. When the conflict arrived to Barcelona, the economic and political situation of the city fuelled the mob, provoking a three-day attack. Hebrew and Christian sources agree on the brutality of the attacks, where around 400 people were killed. Survivors were forced to convert, and hence a new converso community had to recover and readapt to a new situation (and neighbourhood).

Listen to the testimony of Hasday Cresques

The al-funduq mentioned in the text was located in the aforementioned houses of Sant Sever.

During the 15th century, the converso community of Barcelona slowly assimilated. Due to this fact, the 1492 expulsion did not greatly affect the city and its scarce Jewish population. 

ADB, Procés de Nicolau Sanxo (nº 762, any 1438)

In 1437, Nicolau Sanxo, a converso, was accused of having his son circumcised. The child died shortly after he was born, and therefore the investigation relied on witnesses present during childbirth. Many of them were also conversos, such as the midwife or a physician related to the family, and their testimony put them in a very delicate place. Even so, the physician Francesc de Pedralbes declared: “car lo dit Guillem Sanxo [pare de Nicolau] e sa casa eran axí vertaders crestians, en les serimonies foranes com qualssevulla altres, mes en les coses de dintre no més jutge sinó Déu” (“that the aforementioned Guillem Sanxo [father of Nicolau] and his household were truly Christians, and they took part of ceremonies as others did, but on the inside matters [house, or perhaps inside himself] only God could judge”).

Bartolomé Bermejo is the author of the Pietà Desplà, exposed in the Chapter Hall. He was a converso painter at the end of the 15th century.

Did you know…? After the expulsion of 1492, many Catalan Jews took refuge in Rome, when Pope Alexander VI (Roderic Borja) reigned. Although it may seem strange, the Pope, who was originally from the Crown of Aragon, made sure to take them in. This new community founded their own synagogue in 1519, the Scola Catalana, and they were guaranteed they could preserve their distinctive traditions.