Chivalry and the Jews in late medieval Spain

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Abstract

A long standing tradition posits an opposition between the Jews and the ideals and reality of medieval chivalry (i.e., before 1492). The article argues against such generalizations. It begins by noting the research on chivalric imaginaire amongst Jews in Franco-German areas. In the case of Hispanic Jews, oral literature, particularly ballads, includes points of contact with Libros de caballería. Even (neo-) Aramaic mystical texts from thirteenth-century Castile use images and metaphors from chivalric literature. Culturally hybrid representations are also relevant, in specific visual cases such as the iconography of the Arragel Bible - and also its texts - or the texts of the (probably converso) poet Pero Ferruz. Late medieval Hebrew MS illuminations show the Hispano- Jewish patrons' taste for the representation of knights and scenes of knightly life. Fragments from Inquisition and other archival evidence confirm the taste for chivalric literature amongst Iberian Jews. Material culture from late medieval Spain also supports the article's claim in various ways - Jewish artisans are involved in crafting memorable items of knightly accoutrement; and towards the later decades of the fifteenth century there are attempts to incorporate Jews into urban caballería.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-337
Number of pages23
JournalBulletin of Hispanic Studies
Volume98
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021

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