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SPAIN, TAXES and the JEWS

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Antisemitism was prevalent in the Middle Ages, the period of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century.

Religion played a major role in driving antisemitism. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus, through the so-called blood curse of Pontius Pilate in the Gospels, among other things.

Among socio-economic factors were restrictions by the authorities. Local rulers and church officials closed many professions to the Jews, pushing them into marginal occupations considered socially inferior, such as tax and rent collecting and moneylending, tolerated then as a "necessary evil". Catholic doctrine of the time held that lending money for interest was a sin, and forbidden to Christians. Not being subject to this restriction, Jews dominated this business. The Torah and later sections of the Hebrew Bible criticise usury but interpretations of the Biblical prohibition vary (the only time Jesus used violence was against money changers taking a toll to enter temple). Since few other occupations were open to them, Jews were motivated to take up money lending. This was said to show Jews were insolent, greedy, usurers, and subsequently led to many negative stereotypes and propaganda. Natural tensions between creditors (typically Jews) and debtors (typically Christians) were added to social, political, religious, and economic strains. Peasants who were forced to pay their taxes to Jews could personify them as the people taking their earnings while remaining loyal to the lords on whose behalf the Jews worked.

Although Spanish Jews worked in agriculture, viticulture, industry, commerce, and handicrafts — it was finance that gave them their wealth and influence. From the King downwards all who needed money and could only obtain it from the Jews who were forced to act as bailiffs, tax-farmers or tax-collectors as Christians were forbidden from charging each other interest rates. Jews were forced to pay additional and exorbitant taxes. because of their acquired wealth and any anti-Semitism,

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