Croke, Sir Alexander; of Studley Priory, Oxfordshire. (1823). The Genealogical History Of The Croke Family Originally Named Le Blount Vol. II. Oxford: W. Baxter for John Murray, Albemarle Street, London; and Joseph Parker, Oxford.
Sir Alexander Croke graduated Doctor of Civil Law from Oriel College, Oxford. Chapter III of Vol. II contains extensive material on the family of Sancha de Ayala, the value of which varies.
Farmerie, Todd A.; Taylor, Nathaniel L. (1998). NOTES ON THE ANCESTRY OF SANCHA DE AYALA. Prepublication MS of article subsequently published (with minor emendations) in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register 103 (1998), 36–48.
Article is available on the Internet under the above title. Todd A. Farmerie and Nathaniel L. Taylor are co-owners of Internet message board “soc.genealogy.medieval.” Farmerie is Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University (Pullman). Taylor, of Barrington, Rhode Island, is a professional genealogist and Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists.
Fletcher, Richard. (2006). Moorish Spain. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Richard Fletcher was Professor of Medieval History at University of York, UK.
Fletcher, Richard. (1990). The Quest for El Cid. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
Same author bio as above.
Hitchcock, Richard. (2008). Mozarabs in Medieval and Early Modern Spain Identities and Influences. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.
Richard Hitchcock is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK.
Roth, Norman. (2002). Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain With a new afterword. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Norman Roth is Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Sancha de Ayala m. Sir Walter Blount > Anne Blount m. Thomas Griffith > Sir John Griffith m. Katherine Tyrwhit > Rhys (Richard) Griffith m. Margaret — > Joan (Jane) Griffith m. (his 1st) Sir Lionel Dymoke > Alice Dymoke m. (his 2nd) Sir William Skipwith > Henry Skipwith m. Jane Hall > Sir William Skipwith m. (1st) Margaret Cave > Sir Henry Skipwith bt. m. (1st) Amy Kempe > Diana Skipwith m. (his 2nd) Edward Dale > etc.
Sancha de Ayala (ca. 1360–1418) m. Sir Walter4 Blount (John3, Walter2, William1), and is one of my ancestors through the Griffith family. She came to England in the household of Constance of Castile, 2nd wife of John of Gaunt. Sir Walter Blount was a close associate of Gaunt, and it was through Gaunt that he met Sancha.
Of Sir Walter Blount, grandfather of Walter Blount, 1st Lord Mountjoy, The Complete Peerage Vol. IX, sub Mountjoy, pp. 331–333, has this:
Sir Walter Blount is a character in Shakespeare’s “I Henry IV.” His mutterings are unremarkable. Nonetheless, in battle Blount pretends to be the king, and is killed. That earned him accolades for gallantry, but he was deaf in the grave.
How did Sancha come to the attention of Constance, a daughter of Pedro I “The Cruel”, king of Castile? The short version is Sancha’s sister Teresa was a mistress of Pedro I, and allegedly had a daughter by him.
Pedro I’s chaotic personal life, and his failure to produce an acceptable heir, eventually led to his murder on 14 Mar 1369 at the hands of his illegitimate half-brother Henry of Trastamara. Henry exploited animosity toward the Jews to secure powerful allies against him. Henry said Pedro I was too pro-Jewish.
The struggle between Pedro I and Henry was the seed of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition. As a usurper, Henry was weak. The Catholic church stepped in to fill the power vacuum. The Inquisition peaked during the reign of the “Catholic Monarchs” Ferdinand and Isabella—the Ferdinand and Isabella who financed Christopher Columbus.
Sancha was a member of a highly evolved and sophisticated culture in Toledo, Spain. The area became part of the kingdom of Castile on 25 May 1085 when Alfonso VI, king of Castile and Leon, ejected the Moors. The Moors had ruled Toledo since the early 8th century.
(Neo-Moorish architecture: Castello di Sammezzano, Tuscany, Italy.)
Though the Moors remained in control of a large part of the Iberian peninsula for centuries, getting a straight answer as to their ethnic composition was difficult. Evidently the Moors ranged from fair skinned blonde to dark skinned Ethiopian. The best description I can assemble is that they were initially a (mostly) Berber people from Algeria and Morocco with some Arab component, but during the period of their domination assimilated black Africans, some of whom were soldiers and slaves. So this is a mixed race people, the individuals of which could vary in appearance. They were not a distinct race of their own, but a shared culture. The linkage of “Moor” to “Muslim” in this context is definite. The Moors were sometimes called “Arabs” in the generic sense, as “Muslims,” in the same way the term “Saracen” came to be applied to Islamic peoples during the Crusades. Historian Richard Fletcher (2006) said “the number of Arabs who settled in Iberia was very small. ‘Moorish’ Iberia does at least remind us that the bulk of the invaders were Moors, i.e., Berbers from Algeria and Morocco.”
The Moorish scholar Abu Muhammad Ali ibn Sa id ibn Hazm (994–1064), son of Ahmad, advisor to the Umayyad Caliph Hisham II, described the Moors:
“All the Caliphs of the Banu Marwan (God have mercy on their souls!), and especially the sons of al-Nasir, were without variation or exception disposed by nature to prefer blondes. I have myself seen them, and known others who had seen their forebears, from the days of al-Nasir’s reign down to the present day; every one of them has been fair-haired, taking after their mothers, so that this has become a hereditary trait with them; all but Sulaiman al-Zafir (God have mercy on him!), whom I remember to have had black ringlets and a black beard. As for al-Nasir and al-Hakam al-Mustansir (may God be pleased with them!), I have been informed by my late father, the vizier, as well as by others, that both of them were blond and blue-eyed. The same is true of Hisham al-Mu’aiyad, Muhammad al-Mahdi, and Abd al-Rahman al-Murtada (may God be merciful to them all!); I saw them myself many times, and had the honour of being received by them, and I remarked that they all had fair hair and blue eyes.”
I located the above passage in ibn Hazm’s The Ring of the Dove, in the chapter “Of Falling In Love With A Quality And Thereafter Not Approving Any Other Different” [Arthur John Arberry (1905--1969), trans.; Fellow Pembroke College, Cambridge]. ibn Hazm, as the son of a highly placed court official, is impeccable evidence, drawing upon his own observation, or the personal observation of his “late father, the vizier, as well as by others….” Few in the West outside of academia are familiar with ibn Hazm, but he is a very important source for this period.
Note ibn Hazm says the “blonde” trait of these caliphs was from “taking after their mothers” and became hereditary through them. Obviously the Moors had taken women indigenous to the area as wives or concubines, but this practice was not universal, as in the case of Sulaiman al-Zafir. Sulaiman’s “black ringlets” refer not to jewellery, but to his naturally curled hair. So some Moors were engaged in what can only be termed “selective breeding,” but why? Why did not Sulaiman al-Zafir? Did some Moors crave acceptance from white Europeans? Perhaps Sulaiman al-Zafir found all the respect he needed at the point of his sword.
An ancient mystery for which I have no answer.
What I can say is that “selective breeding” among elites was hardly new with the Moors. The most extreme example are the Ptolemaic pharaohs of Egypt, who married their own sisters because no other women were fit for a king. It all smacks of the Nazi attempt to create a super-race, but the caliphs were not engaged in a program of racial extermination. A more plausible explanation is the elites wanted some means to distinguish themselves from the grunts. As ibn Hazm says “all but Sulaiman al-Zafir” did this, it’s reasonable to conclude the average Moor resembled Sulaiman al-Zafir.
ibn Hazm died a mere 21 years before Alfonso VI overwhelmed Toledo. This is as contemporary a description of the Moors as we are likely to find.
[Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577--1640), "Four studies of the head of a Moore." In the collection of Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts, Musee Old Masters Museum (inv. 3176), Brussels, Belgium.]
Even after Toledo was re-conquered by the Castilians, it continued as a vibrant center of Jewish and Muslim culture. It would be very surprising if Sancha de Ayala, who was born about 275 years after the end of Moorish rule, had no Jewish and Moorish ancestry.
[Alfonso VI (1040--1109), king of Castile and Leon. The ruler of Toledo, Al-Qadir, was a hated puppet installed by Alfonso VI. Alfonso VI had been bleeding Toledo dry with demands for tribute. "Toledo ... contained large communities of Jews and Mozarabic Christians. It is inaccurate to regard the Christians as some sort of 'fifth column' working for Alfonso VI. Nevertheless it was bound to have been the case that to be ruled by a Christian was perceived as preferable to be being ruled by a Muslim. As for the Jews of Toledo, they were probably encouraged to look favourably upon the Christian king by an episode that occurred in 1082. Alfonso had sent a Jewish ambassador to Seville to collect the tribute. A dispute took place: the Castilian delegation complained the tribute was being paid in debased coin and accompanied their complaint with insults. (The ruler) Al-Mu'tamid had the Jewish ambassador crucified. Alfonso VI was livid with rage...." Fletcher (1990), p. 141.]
Any pretense to aristocracy came through Sancha’s mother Ines de Ayala. Sancha’s uncle Pero Lopez de Ayala (1332–1407), for many years a player in Castilian politics, became Grand Chancellor of The Realm of Castile under King Henry III of Castile. Ines de Ayala was also distantly related by blood to Roman Catholic Cardinal Pedro Gomez Barroso (d. 1348).
(Tomb effigy of Pero Lopez de Ayala in the Monastery of Quejana, near Bilbao, Spain. In addition to holding high political office, he was also a renowned poet.)
Sancha de Ayala can justifiably be called an “uber-mother,” having many descendants, but the quality of scholarship on her life is uneven. According to Sir Walter Blount’s biography in The History of Parliament online, the couple had 5 sons and 2 daughters.
Todd Farmerie, in a thread on “soc.genealogy.medieval,” dated 24 Jul 2007, entitled “Converso ancestors of Sancha de Ayala” said:
My response to Farmerie’s question is that your ancestors do not lose their identity over time. If you have a Jew or African in your pedigree, THEY are a Jew and African forever, regardless of the era in which they lived. Their contribution to YOU as an organism varies over time, but you’re the sum of all of your forebears. I was unfamiliar with the phrase “turning something on its head.” Farmarie is saying: “Even if there is a Jew somewhere in the pedigree, after 25 generations it’s a misinterpretation of the pure blood standard to say such a person is a Jew.” So if the Jew is a remote ancestor, the Jewish genetic contribution to your pedigree is diluted to the point that it doesn’t matter. That’s not genealogy.
The “pure blood standard” was called “limpieza de sangre,” and was first introduced into Spain in 1414 by the archbishop of Seville, in connection with the foundation of the Colegio de San Bartolome of Salamanca. No one with any Jewish ancestor, regardless of how remote, could be admitted to the college. Jewish blood was “tainted.”
The practical application of the doctrine was in the event political. Many prominent people did have Jewish ancestors, so the application of the “purity of blood” standard depended partly upon who you were. If you were powerful (meaning you could marshal military force), your background wasn’t scrutinized as closely as someone further down the food chain. The doctrine was based upon the concept that though everyone was equal in Christ, Jews were held to be biologically “inferior.” Thus was established institutionalized racism with various equations of who could do what with who: in some instances one could not have had a Jew in the family for 100 years, and in others, for 4 generations. Dispensations could be granted. Farmerie’s question has no simple answer.
Farmerie has some support from across the pond. In an article in “The Guardian” dated 11 Mar 2009, British celebrity biographer Hugo Vickers was asked for his reaction to reports that King George III’s consort Queen Charlotte had black ancestry:
[Would] our royal family be threatened if it were shown they had African forebears? “I don’t think so at all. There would be no shame attached to it all,” says the royal historian Hugo Vickers. “The theory does not impress me, but even if it were true, the whole thing would have been so diluted by this stage that it couldn’t matter less to our royal family. It certainly wouldn’t show that they are significantly black.”
Stiff upper lip and carry on.
So what lit Farmerie’s bunsen burner? The assertion that some of Sancha de Ayala’s ancestors were converted Jews—or “conversos.” As Nathaniel Lane Taylor points out, the term “converso” is properly applied only to Jews who converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. But in actual practice, “converso” is often applied in a broader sense to Jews who converted at any point in the Medieval period. And it could apply to Moorish converts as well.
In the same thread, Taylor says: “Sancha de Ayala’s father’s ancestors in Toledo were a mixed bag of Toledan families. Some were most likely Mozarabic families—Christians who had been living under Muslim rule before the annexation of Toledo by Alfonso VI. An example is Abdul Aziz bin Lampader, surely Sancha’s ancestor, who was alcalde [assistant judge] of the city in 1125. There is a possibility that some of these families may have been Jewish…. The bottom line is that it is conventional to say all the apparently native urban [Toledo] families who bore Muslim names in the time of Alfonso VI [1040--1109] were Mozarabic Christians, but some of them may have been Jews. But in this early era (11th–early 12th c) there was no organized persecution or forced conversion….”
In the discussion of Abdul Aziz bin Lampader that follows, I’m going to rely on Hitchcock (2008)—this area of investigation was his specialty.
First, what was a “Mozarab”? It means: “‘to make oneself similar to the Arabs,’ … ‘having assimilated Arabic customs’, or, most specifically designated someone who had the appearance of an Arab, was indistinguishable from Arabs, and would not stand out in a crowd of Arabs.” (p. ix) “Mozarab” doesn’t just signify a Christian living under Muslim rule.
So the key here is primarily appearance and outward conformity, although in religion the Mozarab might be Jewish or Christian. The term “Mozarab” was not uniformly applied as to religion, but it does mean non-Muslim and could be pejorative.
“In Toledo after 1085 AD, and the surrounding areas for a further century and a half, ‘Mozarab’ was an internally applied term. Christians used it to define other, Arabicized, Christians, and amongst the communities of the latter were those who had ‘Mozarab’ or a recognizable form of the word, as a surname.’ (p. 76) These were people who were in Toledo before Alfonso VI took it; a community he recognized as an asset in stabilizing his regime.
“In the first generation after the conquest of Toledo, there is a majority of names entirely in Arabic (59 per cent), whilst in the twenty-year period 1110–1130, this figure has reduced to 45 per cent. Between 1150 and 1170, it has dropped to 5 per cent. During the same period (1130–1170), hybrid names, of the type Abi al-Hasan b. Mika il, retain their popularity, representing over 40 percent of the instances….” By 1118, and throughout the following two centuries, being Mozarab meant, first and foremost, being Arabicized members of a Castilian community.” (pp. 86–87) In this example “Mika il” is the hybrid portion of the name.
“It would be fair to say that the Mozarabs flourished in the city of Toledo in the twelfth century. They still had their own mayor in 1178, Melendo Lampader, who died in 1181, and relations with the Castlian community in the city seemed positive. This same Melendo married a daughter of the Castilian alcaide, and the line was perpetuated well into the thirteenth century. The maintenance of two separate mayors, responsible for their own communities, one hundred years after the capture of the city by Alfonso VI, is an indication of the success of this king’s initial policies. Arabophone Christian communities, however they came into existence, could prosper independently within Christian territories.” (p. 96) The term “Arabophone” means the individual’s native language was Arabic.
At this point we can draw some conclusions. It is quite unlikely Abdul Aziz bin Lampeder was Jewish. As will be seen below, in 1218 Pope Honorius III ordered Jews in Toledo to wear distinctive dress. Rather, he was an Arabicized Christian who was biologically indistinguishable from his Muslim counterpart. In this context, that means a Moor. As I discuss above, what made an individual a Moor cannot be unequivocally stated, but by general agreement it was a person of mixed race, incorporating Arab and African elements. To what extent his ancestry may have drawn upon indigenous Visigothic people, as did some of the caliphs, is unknown.
(A view of Toledo, which barely looks more modernized than it did in the day of Sancha de Ayala. Click on image to enlarge.)
“Abdul Aziz” is a Muslim name still in use today: “Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud” is the reigning king of Saudi Arabia, which means “Abdullah son of Abdul Aziz of the family Saud.”
One researcher claimed Abdul Aziz bin Lampader was actually Abdelacis ben Lampader, giving the name a Jewish form, but that’s absurd. In Muslim use “Abdul Aziz bin Lampader” means “Abdul Aziz son of Lampader” without a family name appended, but this was in an early age. I was unable to find the word “Lampader” anywhere in lists of Hebrew names, or in Hebrew dictionaries, or among any given names. It appears to be somewhat related to words ending in “or,” rather than “er.” Possibly it referred to some mid-ranking office he held, or his family had held, under the Moorish regime, the name being political rather than familial. A corollary is the English family of Despenser, whose name was derived from “Dispensator”—they had been stewards of the Earls of Chester or the Lacy family, Constables of Chester. Note that Abdul Aziz and his son Melendo held public office in Toledo. It appears this family was resident in Toledo when it capitulated to Alfonso VI, and the king took advantage of their continued service.
The solution, though not the answer, to the mystery of “Lampader,” the hybrid part of Abdul Aziz’s name, is contained in Fletcher (1990), p. 60: “Settlers also came [to Castile] from the South, Mozarabic Christians who left al-Andalus [Muslim controlled Spain] to live among their fellow Christians in the north. They can be recognized by their Arabised names which evidently caused difficulties for Castilian scribes and produced such bizarre formations as the Abolgomar who lived near Cardena about the year 900 and the Abogaleb who was a monk at Berlangas in about 950.” So though we will never know from what word “Lampader” was derived, we know the name was corrupted by Castilian officials, probably as Alfonso VI tightened his grip on Toledo. It reminds one of the creative work by the clerks at Ellis Island.
The line connects to Sancha de Ayala through Guzman.
[Shakespeare's immortal Moor Othello, portrayed by American/British actor Ira Aldridge (1807--1867). In 1833 Aldridge became the first black actor to play Othello on the London stage. Othello is one of Shakespeare's greatest roles which has inspired both black and white actors---like Laurence Fishburne and Laurence Olivier. Today we conceive of the Moors as black, and that was true in most cases. As ibn Hazm remarked, the mixed racial composition of the Moors covered a wider spectrum. That challenges our assumptions about race: what does "race" really mean?]
Another character who weaves in and out of this tale is Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, or El Cid (ca. 1043–1099). Despite being Spain’s National Hero, El Cid was a gun-for-hire, fighting for Christians or Muslims as the fortunes of war dictated. One of his clients was Alfonso VI, King of Castile and Leon. El Cid’s passion was an independent principality in Valencia, which became reality, if only for awhile. The Arabic writer Ibn Bassam said of El Cid: “this man, the scourge of his time, by his appetite for glory, by the prudent steadfastness of his character, and by his heroic bravery, was one of the miracles of God.” Fletcher (1990) p. 185.
A descendant of El Cid, Blanche of Artois, who seems to have been the uterine crossroads of Medieval Europe, married Edmund “Crouchback,” Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, bringing El Cid’s bloodline to England.
(Original tomb of El Cid and his wife Ximena at the monastery of San Pedro de Cardena. The parentage of El Cid and Ximena is disputed. El Cid’s horse Babieca was buried in the graveyard. Babieca stayed put, but El Cid wandered around until finally re-interred at the Catedral de Santa Maria de Burgos.)
[1864 painting by Marcos Giraldez de Acosta depicting Alfonso VI, king of Castile and Leon (in red cape) swearing on the bible that he had no complicity in the murder of his brother Sancho II. Sancho II was murdered, allegedly by a sword-thrust to the back, at Zamora on 6 Oct 1072. Alfonso VI is looking at El Cid. Click on image to enlarge it.]
Returning to the focus of this piece, Todd A. Farmarie and Nathaniel L. Taylor (1998) seems to be the latest formal genealogical investigation of Sancha de Ayala. The authors examine three possible, but as they acknowledge, unproved royal descents—one from Alfonso VI of Castile, and two from Alfonso IX of Leon—all of which have problematic illegitimate generations even if “proved.” They discount two claims of Muslim descents. Otherwise, they leave Sancha’s ethnicity a blank.
The above “soc.genealogy.medieval” thread was kicked off by references to Norman Roth’s (2002) book in a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia, while useful as a jumping off point, is of itself an unacceptable source. I obtained a copy of the book to examine it myself.
Let’s look at Sancha de Ayala and see what we can learn about her family. We begin with her maternal ancestors, the Ayala family:
Roth does not say in the text that Sancha’s uncle Pero Lopez de Ayala was of converso stock. However, in “Appendix C Major Converso Families,” Ayala is among the “Converso Families Named by Lope de Barrientos and Fernan Diaz de Toledo.” Lope de Barrientos (1395–1469) was Dominican master and bishop of Segovia, Avila, and Cuenca. Barrientos was not unsympathetic to conversos, and I see no reason he would have concocted the list. Barrientos stated that all of the Mendozas and Ayalas descended from a certain Rabbi Solomon and his son Isaque de Valladolid. As Barrientos was writing after the death of Pero Lopez de Ayala, uncle of Sancha de Ayala, this comment must include him, and thus also Sancha’s grandfather Fernan Perez de Ayala. Of interest is the inclusion of the Sotomayor family in the list, as Cardinal Pedro Gomez Barroso’s mother was Mencia Garcia de Sotomayor. Another interesting name in the list is Osorio, as Sancha’s 2nd great-grandmother was Elvira Alvarez de Osorio.
Turning to her father’s family, that of Diego Gomez:
Roth (2002) p. 94 identifies the wife of her 2nd-great-grandfather, Gome Perez, Aguacil Mayor (Chief Justice) of Toledo, as Horabuena, and states there is little doubt of her Jewish background. On p. 378, he lists among the “Most Frequent Converso Names in Toledo” Garcia, Gomes, de Toledo, and Vasques, all names that figure in Sancha de Ayala’s paternal pedigree.
This is the complete list in Roth (2002), pp. 377–378:
“Appendix C Major Converso Families Converso Families Named by Lope de Barrientos and Fernan Diaz de Toledo [caps are mine]
ALARCON, ALBARES, ANAYA, ARAUJO (ARROYO? cf. also ARUQUE in Toledo; same?), AYALA, BARRIONUEVO, BERNALDEZ (BERNALDES), CARRILLO, CERVANTES, CUELLAR, FERNANDEZ (family of DIEGO FERNANDEZ DE CORDOBA, mariscal of JUAN II of CASTILE), FERNANDEZ MARMOLEJO, HURTADO DE MENDOZA (not the sons of INIGO LOPEZ DE MENDOZA, DIEGO HURTADO and HURTADO DE MENDOZE, but probably the family of JUAN HURTADO DE MENDOZA, connected with the DE LUNA family, who was the mayordomo mayor of JUAN II), LUNA (the CASTILE branch), LUYAN, MANRIQUE, MENDOZA (the MENDOZAS and AYALAS all descended from a certain “RABBI SOLOMON” and his son DON ISAQUE DE VALLADOLID, according to Lope de Barrientos), MIRANDA, MONROY, MOTICON, OCAMPO, OSORIO (OSSORIO), PENA LOZA, PESTIN, PIMENTEL, PORRA, ROJA, SANDOBAL, SANTI-ESTEBAN, SARABIA, SAUCEDOS (SALCEDOS), SOLI, SOTOMAYOR, VALDEZ.
Most Frequent Converso Names in Toledo
ALCOCER, ALONSO, ALVARES, DE AVILA, DEL CASTILLO, DE CORDOBA, COTA, CUELLAR, DE CUENCA, DIAS, DUENAS, FARO (or HARO), FERRANDES, DE LA FUENTE, FUNESALIDA, GARCIA, GOMES, GONCALES (GONZALEZ), HUSILLO, DE ILLESCAS, JARADA, DE LEON, LOPES, MONTALVAN, NUNES, DE OCANA, ORTIS, DE LA PENA, PRADO, PULGAR, RODRIGUES, DE LA RUA, SANCHES, SAN PEDRO, DE SEGOVIA, SERRANO, DE SEVILLA, SORGE (SORJE), DE TOLEDO, DE LA TORRE, TORRIJOS, DE UBEDA, VASQUES (VAZQUEZ), DE VILLA REAL, DE LA XARA (JARA).”
The Spanish Inquisition is one of the most lurid episodes in Catholic history. It’s difficult to estimate the numbers of those condemned or imprisoned—but the number is in the thousands, not tens of thousands. That doesn’t take into account those who fled, or had their property confiscated. An apt comparison are the Salem Witch Trials on a much larger scale.
Catholic apologists blame the persecution on evil men. But the popes encouraged and supported the process. By the 13th century papal bulls were reserved for formal or solemn communications from the pope. The “bull” was so named for the pope’s lead seal that authenticated the document. The popes vacillated in their Jewish policy, at times pleading that Jews be well-treated. It’s fair to say papal instructions for sanctions against them resulted in sustained suffering, but the impact was not always uniform, as witnessed by the necessity for repeated orders by various pontiffs.
In 1218 Pope Honorius III issued In generali concilio, to the archbishop of Toledo, ordering Jews to wear clothing to distinguish themselves from Christians, and that they must pay tithe to local churches.
The 1239 bull Si vera sunt of Pope Gregory IX, addressed to kings and prelates of France and Spain, ordered seizure of the Talmud and all other Jewish books suspected of blaspheming Jesus. Renewed in 1264 by Pope Clement IV.
In the bull Turbato Corde (1267), addressed to inquisitors of heresy, Clement IV fulminated against wickedness: “With a troubled heart we relate what we have heard, that [several reprobate Christians] have abandoned the true faith and have wickedly transferred themselves to the rite of the Jews…. Against Jews whom you may find guilty of having induced Christians of either sex to join their execrable rite, or whom you may find doing so in the future, you shall impose fitting punishment. By means of appropriate ecclesiastical censure you shall silence all who oppose you. If necessary you may call on the secular arm.”
(This is exactly why only an idiot would put a Jewish ancestor in their family history. The late 14th century “de Ayala” family history should not be taken at face value. Portions of it are known to be wrong. That it was written doesn’t mean people believed it.)
So rather than offer another estimate of Inquisition victims, let’s view the matter from the vantage point of a Catholic archivist who witnessed the proceedings:
“10 June 1491. Some 126 burned.”
On one day. In Barcelona. A little hazy on the exact number. The flames washed it all away.
[Puerta de Bisagra Antigua (gate to the city of Toledo), 10th century.]
The Inquisition has never entirely disappeared. Today it’s known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Prof. Roth’s book is required reading for those with ancestors in this time and place.
To sum up: much of Sancha de Ayala’s ancestry on both sides of her family was Sephardic Jewish in origin, and she had at least one known Moorish ancestor. She was a connection to a tolerant polity in Toledo which had enjoyed a relatively stable multi-cultural and multi-racial environment. That environment began to deteriorate in the early 13th century, and in the second half of the 14th century succumbed to political strife and religious agitation.