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The  JEWS and PEDRO I  ________________________________________________


During the reign of Pedro I (1350-1369), the quality of Jewish life in Spain improved and the King became a well-known friend to the Jews. From the commencement of his reign, Pedro so surrounded himself with Jews that his enemies spoke derisively of his royal court as “a Jewish court.”.  In 1357, Samuel Levi financed the construction of the Sinagoga del Transito, which served as the center of Todelo's Jewish life. It is also believed that during this time kosher slaughterhouses and butcher shops sprang up along the main streets of Toledo.

A civil war erupted and a rival army, led by Pedro I’s half brother Henry II, attacked the Jews. During the war, part of the Juderia of Toledo was plundered and about 12,000 Jews were murdered. The mob were unsuccessful in overrunning the Juderia proper, where the Jews, reinforced by Toledan noblemen defended themselves.

The friendlier Pedro was to the Jews and the more he protected them, the more antagonistic his half brother became. Later, when Henry II invaded Castile in 1360, he robbed and butchered the Jews living in Miranda de Ebro and Najera.

The Jews remained loyal to Pedro and fought bravely in his army. In return, Pedro showed his good will toward them and asked the King of Granada to also protect the Jews. Nevertheless, the Jews suffered greatly. Villadiego (whose Jewish community numbered many scholars), Aguilar, and many other towns were destroyed. The inhabitants of Valladolid, who paid homage to Henry, robbed the Jews, destroyed their houses and synagogues, and tore their Torah scrolls. Paredes, Palencia, and several other communities met with a similar fate.  300 Jaen Jewish families were taken prisoners to Granada. Pedro was eventually defeated and succeeded by Henry de Trastamara.

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