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Book Notes: The Sale of Gibraltar in 1494 to the New Christians of Cordova, Diego Lamelas

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Sale of Gibraltar in 1494 to the New Christians of Cordova, Diego Lamelas. Translated by Sam Benady (Gibraltar Books Ltd, Rosehill Farm, 38 Main Road, Grendon, Northampton NN7 iJW, 1992) 60pp. ?4.95. In Alonso de Palencia's Latin chronicle of the reign of King Enrique IV, there is an account of how in Cordova, in March 1494, the Old Christians attacked, robbed and massacred the New Christians although the richer ones obtained shelter in the Alcazar and the protection of its Castellan, Don Alfonso de Aguilar. In consequence of this incident, the Conversos took refuge in Palma del Rio. They then entered into a contract with the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who sold them Gibraltar, which he had been granted by the king, at a high price as a city of refuge where they could live in safety. No sooner had they settled there, than King Enrique IV died and a power struggle ensued. Two years later, the Duke of Medina Sidonia came to Gibraltar at the head of an army, was admitted to the citadel, and treacherously seized the town and expelled the Conversos. The author claims that aspects of this event are not well known, because other historians have relied on a poor-quality Spanish translation of Alonso de Palencia's chronicle by Paz y Melia, whereas he has used the original Latin text, which is much fuller. An English translation of the relevant passages from the Latin chronicle is published as an Appendix. It is certainly not well known that for two years, from 1474 to 1476, Gibraltar was owned and inhabited entirely by Conversos of Jewish origin from Cordova. This small pamphlet is clearly written, interesting (though I must admit I would have liked to see some of the Chronicler's original text) and good value. Edgar Samuel</page></plain_text>