This course charts the 'Golden Age' of the Jews in Spain to their eventual expulsion.
From 711AD, when an Arab and Berber army invaded the Iberian Peninsula, Spanish Jews experienced a period of tolerance and coexistence, a ‘golden age’. Jewish literary, scientific, and philosophical output flourished. Culinary, visual and material culture were all influenced by Islamic culture.
From the late-eleventh century onwards, the situation changed with Jews experiencing oppression and hardship. Following the Muslim retreat back to Morocco and the Christian Reconquest of Spain, life for Spanish Jews became increasingly difficult culminating in the pogroms of 1391 and the 1492 Edict of Expulsion which giving Jews the stark choice of conversion to Catholicism or expulsion.
The course finishes in the new Sephardi communities in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa.
Hilary Pomeroy created and taught a course on the culture and history of Sephardi Jews in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London, for 15 years. She has published numerous articles and a book on Sephardi ballads from Morocco and lectured throughout Europe. She is currently editing a memoir from late-nineteenth century Salonica whilst pursuing her research into the secret Jews of Mallorca.
Week 1: Early days (Roman and Visigoth rule). The Muslim conquest: Arab leaders, Berber army. The Pact of Omar governing life under Islam. The caliphate of Cordoba.
Week 2: The Golden Age – intertwining cultures. Islamic influence on Jewish poetry and material, visual and culinary culture.
Week 3: Berber invasions. Advance of Christian Reconquest.
Week 4: Towards Expulsion. The 1391 pogroms. The Inquisition – how it functioned in Spain and Portugal and their colonies. Crypto-Judaism: case studies.
Week 5: The Expulsion. The Sephardi diaspora and return to Islamic lands: The Ottoman Empire and Morocco. Salonica, “Jerusalem of the Balkans”.