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The Jews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669

Jonathan Israel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Thejews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669* JONATHAN ISRAEL, M.A., D.Phil. 'The question whether it is advisable that Jews should reside in those places [Oran and Mers-el-Kebir] is arguable and there are weighty considerations for and against, but even deciding affirmatively, it should not be permitted that so many should live there, for the fewer of such enemies the better.'1 This statement by Pedro Cantero Vaca, Vicario-General or head of the Catholic Church at Oran in the years 1631-1636, well reflects the conflict of impulses that characterised Spanish official attitudes, civil and ecclesiastical, to? wards the Jewish communities that were tolerated in at least five, and possibly more, of the Spanish North African coastal strongholds?Oran, Ceuta, Tangiers, Larache (Al-Araish), and Mazagan?during the seventeenth century. In general, governors and other officials accepted that the presence of Jews in these fronteras de Africa' was, in several respects, useful to Spain; yet, at the same time, there was an almost constant pressure that Jewish life in the strongholds should be restricted more tightly and the never distant threat of pressure for their expulsion. Thejews dwell? ing within this somewhat precarious framework formed a distinct element or sector in the Sephardi diaspora of the seventeenth century, a sector which was, despite close connections, essentially separate from the main body of Maghreb Jewry with its great centres at Fez, Tetuan, Tlemcen, Algiers, Meknes, and Marakesh. Thejews of the Spanish plazasfuertes had to live within an elaborate ghetto system, modelled on that of those parts of Catholic Europe where Jews were tolerated, a context very different from the general pattern of North African Jewish life. More? over, rather than being representative of Maghreb Jewry as a whole, the Jews of the fronteras consisted mainly, or entirely, of descendants of refugees from Spain, who were as familiar with Spanish and Spanish ways as Arabic, and by the nature of their relationship with the Spanish Crown were in some respects more closely connected with European Sephardi Jewry than other North African Jews. It was the Spanish Crown, perhaps more than any other factor, which deter? mined that the future history of the leading and most of the other Jewish families of the plazas fuertes would He not in the Islamic world, but in Italy, Holland, England, and Gibraltar. Almost certainly, the largest of the Jewish com? munities under Spanish rule was that of Oran. By * Paper delivered to the Society on 9 February 1977. 1669, the year of the expulsion, there were more than a hundred houses in the Oran juderi'a, with a total popu? lation of either 466 or 476, depending on which of two contemporary reports is correct.2 Of this number, over a hundred were adult males, with about ninety capable of bearing arms.3 Apparently, the community had grown appreciably during the century, for a report of 1624 mentions the figure of only about forty houses in the juderi'a with a Jewish population of some 350.4 At Oran and the other plazas, numerous Muslim slaves of Jews also lived in the juderias, though in 1660 or thereabouts the Governor of Oran compelled the Jews to dispose of their slaves.5 The report of 1624 indicates that there were then several hundred slaves in the ghetto, apparently exceeding in number thejews themselves. As the total Christian community of Oran, Spanish and Moorish, numbered about 1,500 in the 1630s6 and the Muslim inhabitants were very much fewer, being mainly slaves or temporary resi? dents, it can be seen that by 1669 thejews composed a large proportion of the population of the city, perhaps nearly 20%. No precise figures are available for Jewish population at the other plazas fuertes, but in all cases, even Larache, a tiny fortress town with fewer than 200 families in all,7 there was a full-fledged ghetto with at least several dozens of Jews forming a sizeable propor? tion of the town's inhabitants. At Mazagan, in the early seventeenth century, total population was fewer than 2,000 but again with a substantial minority of Jews.8 At Tangiers and Ceuta, the communities within the well-regulated juderias were probably somewhat larger than has sometimes been suggested.9 In all, it may safely be assumed that the total Jewish population of the Spanish strongholds was in excess of 1,000 but probably not greatly so. The value of thejews to Spain, and conversely the importance of the plazas fuertes to the Jews, derived essentially from the particular purposes and needs of the strongholds themselves. Originally, in the early and mid-sixteenth century, when Spain occupied North African coastal fortress towns only from Melilla eastwards, including several to the east of Oran,10 the Spanish Crown was relatively uninter? ested in the Atlantic side of the coast. Ceuta, Tangiers, Mazagan, and other Atlantic plazas had been in Portu? guese possession since the fifteenth century and, by treaties with Portugal, Spain had agreed not to inter? fere in what it accepted as a Portuguese sphere of influence. Ferdinand and Isabella had concentrated on 71</page><page sequence="2">72 Jonathan Israel the African coast opposite the realm of Granada, which was strategically important in relation to south? east Spain, offering several good ports less than a day's sailing from Malaga and Cartagena.11 Under Charles V (1516-1555), the Spanish cordon spread eastwards and was mainly intended as a barrier to Turkish power then advancing westwards from Egypt; in particular, it was thought essential to prevent the Turks capturing a viable base for their formidable fleets anywhere in the Maghreb. Charles's African policy, however, was largely a failure. The attack on Algiers, in 1541, which he led in person, and in which the celebrated con? quistador, Hernan Cortes, lost much of his Mexican jewellery, was unsuccessful, while Tunis, captured in 1535, was soon lost again. Little by little, during the century, the Spaniards were dislodged by the Turks from all strongholds east of Oran, which thus became the eastern bulwark of the Spanish cordon. Philip II (1555-1598) was forced, in his African policy, to adopt an increasingly westerly stance.12 From the 1550s, Spain entered into virtual alliance with the Sultans of Morocco, who were as much threatened by the Tur? kish gains as was Philip, and who, anxious for Spanish help, conspicuously failed to help the moriscos of Granada in their desperate revolt against Spanish rule in 1567. As the Spanish cordon began to develop westwards, there was a good deal of communication between Oran, the centre of Spanish power in North Africa, and the Moroccan Court. In 1564, the Spaniards reoccupied Velez de la Gomara with the tacit collaboration of Sultan Moulay Abdallah. Fears of Turkish penetration to the Straits of Gibral? tar that would threaten Spain's most vital sea-lanes,13 to the west Andalusian ports, gradually gave way, after the Spanish victory at Lepanto, to apprehension that the area might be entered by the English and, still more, from the 1590s, to fears of the Dutch. In 1580, Philip II acquired the throne of Portugal and thereby gained possession of the three remaining Portuguese plazas in North Africa?Ceuta, Tangiers, and Maza gan. Acquisition of Ceuta and Tangiers gave Spain control of both sides of the Straits, but still left four serviceable ports in Muslim hands in north-west Mor? occo lying close to the Straits?Larache, La M?mora, Fedala, and Sale. Philip II accordingly showed interest in annexing at least Larache,14 the closest of these to the Straits, and after the succession of Philip III (1598-1621), Spanish involvement in the area became intense.15 The signing, in 1610, of a treaty between the United Provinces and the Sultan Muley Sidan, who then ruled in Southern Morocco, and the extraordi? nary increase in Dutch activity in the area, often by means of Jewish intermediaries, spurred Philip III to form closer links with Muley-el-Sheikh, brother and foe of Muley Sidan and ruler of Northern Morocco, and to seek to expand along the coast. In November 1610, with the consent of Muley-el-Sheikh, Spanish forces finally occupied Larache and in 1614, observed by a Dutch naval squadron, seized La Marnora.16 In this evolution of relations between Spain and the Moroccan rulers and the extension of the string of Spanish plazas fuertes westwards, certain individual Jews played a considerable role. Partly this was due to the use traditionally made of Jews in diplomacy by the Sa'adian sultans, being less distrustful of Jews, whom they deemed resourceful but powerless, than of their relatives and other Moorish nobles. Partly, Jews were needed because they, or at least those of Iberian origin, offered the best available bridge between the wholly different and antagonistic cultures of Spain and the Maghreb. The Spanish Jews were the only group at hand with access to the sultans and Moroccan nobles, who were proficient in Spanish as well as Arabic and had some knowledge of the procedures of Spanish officialdom. Among the most prominent of these Jewish intermediaries was Jacob Cansino the elder, whose family had left Seville in 1492 and settled in Oran in 1512, shortly after the Spanish occupation. Jacob Cansino was sent from Oran to the Moroccan Court and played an important part in the forging of closer Spanish-Moroccan relations during the 1550s.17 His son, Isaac, also held the official post of royal interpreter in Arabic at Oran and likewise per? formed various special services for the Spanish Crown, notably in 1580, at the time of Philip IPs acquisition of Ceuta and Tangiers, when he was sum? moned to Madrid and spent some months conferring with ministers.18 Isaac's son, Haim (Hayen), who in turn succeeded to the royal interpreter ship, spent seven months at San Lucar de Barrameda, in Andalu? sia, at the royal command, in 1608, with the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who was then engaged in the laying of plans for the occupation of Larache and La Marnora. A second key family were the ?aportas, or, as they later became known in Europe, the Sasportas. This family, probably descended from the Qaportas who were prominent at Barcelona in the fourteenth century,19 apparently settled in Oran somewhat later in the sixteenth century than the Cansinos. Yaho Qaportas the elder, while living at Tlemcen, was a principal contact of the Governor of Oran during the 1550s, supplying valued information on the move? ments of the Turks.20 His descendants were rewarded for his and their various services to the Crown by being assigned the xequi'a 'of their nation', the secular headship of the Oran Jewish community. Another such family of Spanish-Jewish notables were the Par ientes. Solomon Pariente the elder, an intermediary in</page><page sequence="3">Thejews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669 73 the negotiations concerning Larache, settled in that town with his family shortly after its occupation by the Spaniards. The Parientes refused to live with the other Jews at Larache but insisted on forming a curious sub-ghetto of some twenty persons at some distance from the main juderta.21 Like the Cansinos, they held an official royal interpretership. Subsequently, the family moved to Tangiers, where Abraham Pariente continued to serve first the Spanish Crown and, after the loss of Tangiers by Spain to Portugal in 1643, that of Portugal. Following the ceding of the town to Charles II of England, in 1661, Abraham and his son, the younger Solomon, continued to act as agents of the Portuguese king at the same time as collaborating with the English.22 Another Jewish notable who par? ticipated in the Spanish annexation of Larache was Nathan Ulet, who was sent by Mulay-el-Sheikh to Gibraltar in 1610 to represent him with the Marques de San Roman, commander of the forces involved, and was with him during the occupation of the town. Possibly the best known of the North African Jew? ish families engaged in the Spanish service in the seventeenth century, however, was a family with no direct connection with the plazasfuertes, the Pallaches. This family is of course chiefly noted for its role in the development of Dutch-Moroccan relations and its activity, after 1608, in Holland. But Samuel Pallache, the founder of the family's fortunes in Holland, had evidently spent several years in Madrid in the later 1560s and the 1570s, representing Mulay Abdallah, and he and his brother, Joseph, were again in Madrid between 1605 and 1608 and were frequent visitors to the Escorial.23 In 1607, during the deliberations over Larache, it was actually envisaged that Samuel and Joseph would assist in the operation.24 It may have been they who were behind the request made to Philip III, in 1607, by Mulay-el-Sheikh that steps be taken to alleviate the lot of the 'Jews of Tangiers and Lisbon', an extraordinary occurrence that indicates that at least some of the Jews close to the Moroccan Court took more than a passing interest in the fate of the Iberian conuersos.25 For a reason unknown, but conceivably because of contacts with conversos, the Pallaches' posi? tion in Spain became suddenly insecure, in 1608, and they took refuge with the French ambassador. Soon after leaving Spain, Samuel undertook his first jour? ney to Holland. Subsequently, the Pallaches appear on the European scene as foes rather than friends of Spain, as the agents of Mulay Sidan at The Hague. In 1615, Samuel Pallache appeared in the Admiralty Court in London confronted by agents of Philip III and charged with acts of piracy against Spanish shipping condoned by the Dutch States-General. Samuel was briefly im? prisoned in England, due to Spanish pressure; but, intriguingly, it was the Spanish ambassador, Gondo mar, who had him released, hoping thereby to win him back into the Spanish service. It was alleged by the Dutch Jew Duarte Fernandez that just before he died, in 1616, Samuel did in fact decide to resume contact with Spanish Ministers, and certainly, after his death, his nephew, Moseh Pallache, visited Brussels in the company of Fernandez and was interviewed by the Marques de Guadaleste and Ambrosio Spinola, the commander of the Spanish army of Flanders.26 Moseh Pallache offered, for a Spanish pension of 200 escudos monthly and a down-payment of 2,000 escudos, to prevent a pending agreement between Mulay Sidan and the English and to arrange the annexation by Spain, with the help of thejews dwelling there, of Sale and Fedala. Guadaleste reported enthusiastically to Madrid, emphasising the value of the services of a family such as the Pallaches; Spinola and the Archduke Albert himself, on the other hand, were much less favourably impressed. The deliberations in Madrid and Brussels concern? ing Sale and Fedala, during the last years of the reign of Philip III, were characteristic of the bold and confident Spanish imperialism in North Africa of the period between the seizure of Larache in 1610 and the resumption of the great Spanish-Dutch war in 1621. In those years, Spain was at the height of its power internationally and involved in ambitious schemes in Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries as well as in the Maghreb. The occupation of Sale by Spain was a real possibility for a period of years and the scheme was only shelved in 1621 because the Council of State in Madrid could not contemplate the cost that it would involve at a time of renewed hostilities with the Dutch.27 Thus the ambition of forming a complete North African coastal barrier between Islam and Spain, and between Islam and the Protestant Powers, was never to be completed. However, the end of Spanish expansion in North Africa, by 1621, did not yet involve any reduction in the role in the Spanish service, or of the privileges, of thejews of the plazas fuertes. Although it was to be one of the main arguments put forward during the seven? teenth century in favour of expulsion of thejews from thefronteras, that they gradually lost their usefulness to the Spanish Crown, particularly in that their services in interpreting ceased to be indispensable, as the Spaniards of the plazas became more proficient in Arabic,28 considerable evidence would seem to tell against this claim, although, at Oran, there was a Christian interpreter of Arabic as well as the Jewish interpreter. Cantero Vaca, who, despite his strong religious objections to the Jews, was in many ways remarkably unprejudiced towards them, frankly</page><page sequence="4">74 Jonathan Israel admitted when comparing the services of the Jewish and Christian interpreters that 'because they [thejews] go into the hinterland and have much communication and correspondence with the Moors, they receive more information from them than does the Chris? tian.'29 And indeed, communication between the Spanish strongholds and the hinterland was in general tightly controlled by the governors, and while it is true that thejews could not, any more than the Chris? tians, leave and re-enter the plazas without special licences, and although Spaniards did occasionally travel into the interior with such licences,30 it is clear that the Jews were much more involved in trade and contact with the Moors than were the Spaniards. Moreover, although licensed Muslim merchants like? wise entered and left the plazas in some numbers, they did not reside in them and the Crown made little use of them, even for minor commercial transactions, as it considered that it had no hold over them. The Jews were in fact the only available regular intermediaries between plazas and hinterland. The continued value of the Jewish presence in the fronteras to the Spanish Crown, after 1621, is further demonstrated by the general strengthening of their position during the ascendancy in Spain of Philip IV's first favourite, the Conde-Duque de Olivares, in 1621?1643. Olivares, of course, has long been consi? dered something of a philosemite. His preponderance was characterised by some effort, and still more plans, to revive the vitality of Spain and its empire and weaken its enemies, especially the Dutch, by various means. Among the innumerable proposals deliberated in Madrid, during the 1620s and 1630s, were embryonic schemes for the resettlement of the Dutch Sephardim in the Iberian peninsula, using economic incentives and restraining the Inquisition, provided that they would live outwardly at least as Catholics, plans for the establishment of organised Jewish com? munities in the Asiatic possessions of the Crown of Portugal, so as to undermine the trade of the Dutch East India Company, and suggestions that the Dutch Sephardim be resettled in the North African plazas fuertes in 'liberty and security'.31 Little came of any of this, for resistance to such proposals in Spain was strong, but Olivares, by influencing appointments within the Inquisition, and other means, evidently did restrain the Inquisition during these years so that per? secution of conversos was relatively sporadic and their importance in Spanish commerce and finance markedly increased. Yet another plan attributed to Olivares by the nineteenth-century Spanish historian Adolfo de Castro, who, unfortunately, gave no source,32 was that of intending to resettle certain Sephardim from the Mediterranean countries in the peninsula with the right to live openly as intriguing to compare this statement with an impor? tant reference in Cantero Vaca's account of the Oran Jews: 'recently some of them, with no little effrontery, petitioned for no less than to be able to move to Madrid and in fact the matter proceeded quite far.'33 Cantero Vaca was here doubtless referring to one of the negotiations of Jacob Cansino 'el sabio' during the 1630s, the period which marks the high point of royal acceptance of thejews as an integral component in the Spanish imperial structure and which produced some major concessions to the Jews of the North African plazas such as can almost be said to have pointed the way to a measure of Jewish resettlement in Spain. One reason for Jacob Cansino's journey to Madrid in 1633 was his desire to extricate himself from the disfavour of the Marques de Flores D?vila, then .Gov? ernor of Oran, who had imprisoned him briefly and on the death, in battle, of his elder brother Aaron, in 1633, transferred the interpretership in Arabic not, as custom demanded, to Jacob, but to his rival for the leadership of the Oran community, its entretenido or xeque (sheikh), Yaho Qaportas the younger.34 The Council of War in Madrid disapproved of Flores Davila's action, but the permission given to Cansino to come to Madrid and resume his presence near the Court where he had already been in 1625 arose from various considerations apart from that of the interpre? tership. Cansino succeeded at Madrid in having the governor's decision on the post reversed and by a cedula of November 1636 the title and accompanying salary of 25 escudos monthly was transferred from Qaportas to Cansino. But since it is clear that the Crown was ready to do this from the first, it is plain that most of his activity during his more than five-year stay at Madrid, where he lived, for at least part of the time, in the Calle del Olivo, opposite the residence of the Marques de Valparaiso,35 had nothing to do with the question of his status at Oran. There are strong indications that he became a confidant of the Conde Duque, undertook various services on his behalf, and was probably also received by the King. It is a fair surmise that the burden of many of his conferences with Olivares and other Ministers was the question of mobilising the resources of sections of Maghreb Jewry in the service of Philip IV in return for closer links, commercial and otherwise, with Spain. While Can? sino lived in Madrid, during 1634, Philip IV issued a 'permision general' enabling the Jews of Oran to visit Spain for temporary stays without any formal resolu? tion on the part of the Consejo de Guerra, with simply a licence from the governor.36 This permision general of 1634 was of great significance, for it meant that visits by Jews to Spain were no longer exclusively matters of</page><page sequence="5">Thejews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669 75 State that could be decided on only in Madrid, but became, so to speak, matters of routine. The sort of lengthy procedure, as for example that gone through in 1623-1624 by Jacob Cansino when applying for permission for a four-month stay in Madrid,37 was no longer necessary. The annual visits of two Jews to Malaga to supervise the preparation of ritually pure wine for the Oran community, mentioned by Can tero Vaca in 1637,38 was almost certainly a recent innovation under the permision general. The issuing of this order in 1634 suggests that for most of his long stay in Madrid Cansino was in fact involved in discuss? ing possible arrangements that would have given at least the Oran Jews more than just rights of temporary residence in Spain. But how could the Crown go beyond the step of 1634 without in some sense abro? gating the general expulsion from Spain of 1492? Thus it seems likely that Olivares did indeed contemplate at least a limited measure of Jewish resettlement in Spain. The publication of Cansino's Spanish rendering of Moses Almosnino's Grandezas de Constantinopla at Madrid in 1638, the only book published in Spain by a professing Jew between 1492 and the abolition of the Inquisition, is by any standard a remarkable occur? rence in both Jewish and Spanish history and is yet another sign that the Conde-Duque was considering some great change. Although the Grandezas itself was irrelevant to the question of Spain and the Jews, the publication was prefaced with a fulsome dedication to Olivares, complete with his portrait, and an account of the services of the Cansino family to the Spanish Crown. Of course, all Spanish monarchs since 1492 had employed Jews in North Africa in their service, but with Cansino's publication, which can only have been possible with very firm support from the Conde Duque himself, it was being proclaimed to the entire world that the Spanish Crown made use of the services of Jews, that Philip IV and Olivares valued such ser? vice, and both had rewarded and intended to go on rewarding it. Indeed, everything about the publica? tion suggests that it was intended to help prepare the Spanish public for some change in its view of thejews. Even the certificate of ecclesiastical approval, by Fray Jeronimo de la Cruz, visitador-general of thejeronimite friars, seems to be laying down a new guide line: 'the book has no other considerable fault than that it comes from the hands of persons who profess a faith different from our holy Catholic religion; but this is no obstacle since we are permitted to read the Targum and rab? binical authorities and many pagan authors and even Tacitus, who speaks so impiously of the Christians'. After the fall of Olivares in 1643, the strengthening of the position of thejews within the Spanish empire was quickly reversed. In Spain, there was a resurgence of Inquisition persecution of the Portuguese conversos, during the 1640s and 1650s, with many more autos deJe and Jewish victims than for many decades. At the same time, the secession of Portugal from Spain in 1640, and the long conflict between Spain and Portugal that then began, led in Castile to a wave of political suspicion against the Portuguese conversos who had settled in the country during the previous half-century and against those in Tangiers and Ceuta. The breaking away of Tangiers in 1643, when after months of desperate shortages the Spaniards lost control of the town and it reverted to Portugal, naturally added to the general distrust of the contractors (asentistas) who were re? sponsible for supplying the North African plazas on behalf of the Crown. In the midst of dangerous shor? tages at Ceuta in 1646, the governor warned that the contractor Francisco Lopez Capodocia was failing to discharge his responsibilities as he should, causing alarming discontent in the town, reminding the Council of Finance that the 'man is Portuguese and a New Christian and in his hand lies the fate of this place, which may be lost, as was Tangiers, through lack of supplies'.39 Lopez Capodocia was then dropped by the Crown, but such was the irony of the situation created by Olivares that the only two alter? native asentistas who could be found to bid for the contract to supply Ceuta were likewise Portuguese conversos, Fernando Montezinos and Gaspar Rodri? guez Cardoso, and Montezinos, who like Capodocia was a crypto-Jew,40 was in fact entrusted with the supplying of Ceuta. In October 1647, Philip IV issued instructions to his councils in Madrid to go so far as to accept less advantageous terms in the making of con? tracts in order to reduce the number of Portuguese conversos involved. The withdrawal of the permision general of 1634 took place on the occasion of the arrival of Solomon Qaportas and a Jewish companion in Valencia in 1645, having permission for the visit from the Governor of Oran only, and was connected with the general drive to reduce the role of conversos and Jews within the empire at the time. Qaportas' presence at Valencia was declared, by royal cedula dated 31 December 1645,41 to be 'in virtue of a permision general of the year 1634, issued when there were not the problems with religion in Spain which the wars have introduced by causing a mixture of nations, to which we must now attend, religion being the principal pillar of this Monarchy'.42 The Governor at Oran was instructed that the reasons for Qaportas' being in Spain would have to be con? siderable to outweigh 'the drawbacks that are evident in the presence of Jews in Spain' and that, in any case, Qaportas would have to return directly to Oran and, should the governor still consider the visit desirable,</page><page sequence="6">76 Jonathan Israel application would have to be made, in the old manner, in Madrid. However, this formal return to the status quo ante really implied not a return to the circum? stances of the early seventeenth century, when Spain was an expanding imperial power in North Africa, but a deterioration for the Jews to a weaker position than at any time since the Spanish capture of Oran. After the fall of the Conde-Duque and loss of Tan? giers, Spain was very evidently a declining power in North Africa as elsewhere. While the Jews of the fronteras continued to fulfd functions valuable to the Crown, in the atmosphere of intensifying antagonism to conversos and Jews, after 1643, it was considerably easier than previously to mount pressure against the Jews in the plazas, pressure both for tighter restriction of Jewish life and for outright expulsion. In addition to their interpreting and what might be called their political and diplomatic role, thejews also performed highly important functions in the econo? mic life of the plazas, in the specific sphere of supply? ing the garrisons with grain, meat, and horses and in commerce generally.43 Normally, the most difficult task of the governors of thefronteras was simply to feed the soldiery and populace in their charge. In theory, grain was substantially cheaper in North Africa than in the peninsula and, in the main, except at times of emergency, the Crown preferred to provide the strongholds with ready cash rather than supplies. However, the money frequently tended to arrive late, so that the governors were greatly impeded in arrang? ing grain purchases at the most advantageous time, after the harvest.44 Moreover, even in cases where Madrid did undertake to forward Andalusian or Sici? lian grain, after harvest failure or other difficulties in North Africa, provisions often took so long to arrive that governors were forced into costly stopgap pur? chases locally. In this connection, thejews of the plazas served two main functions: when cash was available in the royal coffers, governors would entrust sums to specific Jews so that they might journey to Muslim townships in the sierra to buy grain; in this way, wheat and barley could be more cheaply bought than would have been the case in receiving grain dealers in the plazas themselves. At Oran, during the governorship of the Marques de San Roman (1652-1660), a time when the Qaportas were in some disfavour, it was especially Jacob Cansino, and his sons Aaron and Haim, who undertook such commissions,45 travelling usually to Canastel, with which the Cansinos had a traditional connection, or to La Zafina de Jafa. A certain David el Bahar was similarly employed in the procurement of cattle.46 The other main economic service of the Jews to the Crown was that of advancing money for the purchase of provisions, either in the interior or in Spain, at times when the royal coffers in the strongholds were empty. In some cases, Oran Jews advanced not cash but goods, notably hides, coloured plumage, and slaves, so that these could be sold at Cartagena or Alicante and provisions purchased.47 Such advances were paid back exceedingly slowly and at times not at all. It would seem that there was no profit whatever in making these advances, which did not even bear a nominal interest and that they were made only to secure honours, non-pecuniary rewards, and increased security for the community. Even so, there were cases of governors applying heavy pressure on thejews in times of grave shortage, as in 1632 at Oran during the governorship of the Marques de Flores Davila, and yet obtaining no advances.48 The largest loans made during the reign of Philip III would seem to be those made 'free of interest' by Yaho Qaportas, who was owed 20,771 escudos by the Crown in May 1621,49 the bulk of which, as late as 1634, despite repeated petitions from the creditor to the Consejo de Guerra, had still not been repaid, an experi? ence which was doubtless one reason for the com? munity's refusal to lend in 1632. Cantero Vaca remarks of Yaho (^aportas, in 1637, that 'he has been very rich, but is no longer so, as his liberality has not resulted in his remaining such'.50 The sums lent by Qaportas in his earlier years, however, would seem to have been exceptional. Most applications for repay? ment received in Madrid were for small amounts, though evidently this did not hasten reimbursement. In July 1634, Isaac Qaportas Cansino petitioned the Consejo de Guerra that 650 escudos that he had lent to the Crown for the purchase of grain ten years pre? viously should be repaid to him by the usual method in such cases, out of the returns on customs duties collected at Oran.51 The extremely large figure of 800,000 ducats mentioned in the avisos of Jer?nimo de Barrionuevo as the amount that Jacob Cansino offered, in Madrid, on behalf of the Oran community, to lend to the Crown in 1656 should be treated with considerable caution.52 Although Muslim traders came to the plazas and though Iberian merchants, often conversos, were like? wise active in them, thejews also played a prominent part in the general commerce of the fronteras and there are various statements by observers to the effect that 'they have all the trade such that they inflate food prices'53 and referring to the 'bad dealings, usury, thefts, and other practices with which they have con? trived to harm Christians'.54 As long as it was the policy of Madrid to prevent Spaniards entering the interior, except in highly exceptional circumstances, and there was strong resistance in Spain to the notion of opening up the trade of the plazas so that Spaniards</page><page sequence="7">Thejews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669 77 could deal directly with the Muslim centres of the hinterland,55 it was probably inevitable that thejews, with their greater freedom of movement and facility in Arabic, should dominate many sections of trade, including the provision of foodstuffs for the city as a whole. Moreover, since supplies were frequently scarce, it was hardly avoidable that much animosity should fall upon thejews as a result of high food prices. Besides procuring grain and cattle, thejews dealt in a variety of wares obtained from the interior which were re-exported from the plazas to Spain, especially hides, Saharan plumage, and slaves. Since silver was scarce and of high value at such centres as Fez, Algiers, and Tlemcen, it was highly lucrative to export cash from the strongholds into the interior and buy goods and supplies for sale in the plazas and Spain. It was even sometimes said that the rulers of Algiers only permitted the Spaniards to retain Oran for the sake of the silver that they gained thereby.56 Jews resident in Muslim towns could enter the plazas for business purposes, obtaining licences permitting them to stay for periods of a month or more; at times, there were probably quite a number of such temporarily resident Jews in the strongholds. Thejews of the fronteras were also active in import? ing from Spain, especially manufactures, wine, olive oil, fish, and, perhaps most profitable of all, tobacco, which was frequently re-exported into the interior or by coast-to-coast trade to Algiers.57 Permission to trade with Spain without setting foot there in person required a special royal licence, a highly prized privi? lege and one of the chief rewards to be obtained through service to the Crown. Such licences could be acquired only by application to the Council of War in Madrid. In 1656, for instance, Isaac Ballestero, son of Joseph Ballestero and grandson of Jacob Ballestero, descendant of one of the so-called siete casas, the sup? posedly original seven Jewish families to settle in Spanish Oran, requested a licence reminding the Council of the services of his family, so that he could trade with Malaga and other ports 'from the city of Oran without leaving it',58 while in the same year, Haim Albo, descendant of another of the siete casas, which had on various occasions lent money to the Crown, likewise sought permission to trade with Spain as had 'been done with others of his nation'.59 In addition to importing, exporting, and shop tending, thejews of the strongholds engaged in moneylending at interest. Cantero Vaca remarks, in this connection, that the Jews, 'despite being such lovers of money, refuse to accept it on the Sabbath, so that it happens often that soldiers come to the juderia on that day to repay loans, knowing that this is a means of delaying repayment'.60 Besides permits for trade with Spain, there were several other privileges to which Jews of the plazas might aspire. Two major such honours were exemp? tion from the special alcabala of the Jews, a tax paid annually by the community, and places among the cavalry of the garrisons. The alcabala of thejews was a fixed lump sum which was not lowered when indivi? duals were exempted, nor apparently did the burden fall more heavily on those who were not exempt, which suggests that the tax was paid from the com? munity chest to which the contributions of the syna? gogue members, whether or not exempt from the alcabala, remained constant.61 The tax was in any case remarkably low, amounting at Oran, after deduction of salaries, to less than one-third of the 1,200 escudos paid by the Crown annually to Oran Jews in stipends and much less than the 600 escudos of Solomon Par iente's salary as interpreter in Arabic at Larache alone. The privilege of exemption was desired purely for the honour it secured, for in Castilian law tax exemption was a fundamental attribute of noble status, so that Jews thus elevated could claim quasi-noble status within the Jewish community. The Cansinos, Qaportas, and Parientes were in this sense quasi-nobles from a relatively early date. A family that received the privilege at a later stage was that of Saida el Haique and his son Xixa el Haique, who, with their heirs, were exempted from the alcabala in 1644 in recogni? tion of their services to the Crown.62 Probably the last applicant to the Council of War for exemption at Oran, before the expulsion of 1669, was Solomon el Hatat, who applied in 1667 and was refused when the Council gathered from the Governor that neither he nor his family had in fact advanced any money to the Crown.63 A cavalry place procured both honour and a stipend. Most of the 540 escudos paid yearly to Oran Jews over and above the two major salaries, the 30 escudos monthly to the xeque and the 25 escudos monthly for the interpreter ship, was composed of military stipends. Jacob Cansino was assigned his cavalry place by royal cedula in 1627; his father, Haim, had received his in 1597.64 At any one time, quite a number of Oran Jews held posts in the garrison and until 1660, or thereabouts, when it was ordered that the Jews must surrender all arms, a stock of weapons was kept, with the Governor's sanction, in the juderta.65 Such cavalry places were by no means merely honorary but involved their incumbents in active service with the governor and his soldiery. Owing to their familiarity with the interior and the secure hold that the Crown had over them, the Jews represented the best-qualified military guides avail? able to the governors. During the sixteenth century, several of the Cansinos were killed in skirmishes with</page><page sequence="8">78 Jonathan Israel hostile Moors, and, in the seventeenth, Haim was shot in the arm, while Jacob's elder brother Aaron was killed in a clash between the Spaniards and the Beni Raxas.66 The Jews also played a key role in the slaving expeditions organised by the Governors of Oran, and possibly of the other plazas, into hostile districts. Slavery was a central feature of life in the Maghreb and throughout the Islamic world, and it was the policy of Spain, in reply to the enslavement of thou? sands of Christians taken by the Muslims at sea and on land, to enslave hostile Moors captured on sorties made from the plazas. These slaves could be sold in Spain and were a major source of the large profits customarily made by the governors in the exercise of their offices and therefore a major reason for the popularity of North African governorships with the Castilian aristocracy. But to carry out slaving raids successfully required skilful planning and guidance and this was a task of the Jews. During the mid-seven? teenth century, governors drew up slaving contracts with Yaho Qaportas and Jacob Cansino whereby whichever guided the expedition received 7 doblas per slave67 and four slaves if a hundred or more were taken, together with a share of any cattle or horses seized. The Jews were also prominent in the slave market at Oran and other plazas. Besides serving the governors on their slaving expeditions, the Jews also acted as intermediaries for them in other economic activities in which Spanish officials engaged, notably the selling of tobacco to the Muslims.68 The Marques de los Velez, who expelled the Jews from Oran in 1669, like Fernandez de Humada and others, was notably critical of earlier governors of Oran for being too disposed to favour thejews and enabling them to accumulate weapons and slaves, and it would seem clear that the predominantly good relations that existed between governors and Jewish leaders in the plazas during the seventeenth century was not simply a function of Jewish usefulness to the Crown but evidently also of their value to the governors in their private dealings.69 The juderias of Oran, Ceuta, Tangiers, Larache, and Mazagan in many ways resembled European ghettoes of the time. The same ghetto regulations were in force in all five plazas70 and were comparable with those applying in Catholic countries such as Italy and Aus? tria, where Jewish communities were tolerated. Each juderia was walled off from the rest of the town and was permitted only one entrance. However, the North African ghettoes, though cramped, were by no means so unattractive and unhealthy as many Euro? pean counterparts must have been. The juderia of Oran evidently occupied the pleasantest part of the city and had many of its best houses.71 A Spanish functionary known as the alcaide de la juderta was responsible for locking and unlocking the ghetto each evening and morning, for it was strictly forbidden for any Jew to emerge from the juderta, or any non-Jew to enter, at night. At Larache, the sub-ghetto consisting of the 20 members of Solomon Pariente's family, which was located well away from the juderta, likewise had just one external entrance and was locked at night, at the same time as the juderta, by the alcaide;72 presumably, the same held true when the Parientes moved to Tangiers and again established a family sub-ghetto outside the juderta.1'3 At Larache, where there had been an organised Jewish community but no juderta on the pattern of Catholic Europe before the Spanish occupa? tion, some 8,000 escudos was reportedly spent in the decade from 1610 on the construction of a walled ghetto. As a separate nation, the nacion hebrea, as they were known in Spanish, the Jews had, by law, to dress distinctively from Spaniards and Moors and though the Crown did not attempt to regulate dress, apart from a brief attempt at Ceuta, Tangiers, and Mazag?n to attire the men in blue bonnets,74 it was anxious that separateness in the matter of costume be maintained. Jewish dress in the plazas was typical of that of the Maghreb generally, the men wearing turbans and smocks and the women, who greatly impressed Can? tero Vaca, wearing elaborate cloth or silk dresses, silken belts, finely worked silk and gold embroidery across the bosom, embroidered caps often with pearls, and white capes for wear in the streets. In general, costume would seem to have underlined the fact that the Jews were a considerably more prosperous group than most of the rest of the population. In each of the five juderias there was, by royal decree, only one synagogue and a prohibition against any extension or alteration of it without special royal permission, which, clearly, was not readily given. The Oran synagogue during the seventeenth century was very cramped and it seems that women were not admitted, presumably because it lacked a second storey or secluded section. 'The synagogue is smaller than they would like,' observed Cantero Vaca, 'because they are forbidden to extend or rebuild it. It has a small patio and some corridors by which one passes into a room in which there is no image of any kind except some cupboards in which, with great estimation, they keep enclosed the "Zefe y tora de su ley" [sic] written on a large parchment wound round a piece of wood and covered with cloth of Holland or Cambrai. From the ceiling, hang by cords many glass lamps, just the glass without other adornment, and these burn night and day at the expense of the com</page><page sequence="9">Thejews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669 79 muni try. They pray with voice somewhat raised and face turned to the wall and with more attention and devotion, it would seem, than we do.'75 As regards Jewish religious practice in the plazas, the chief concern of Crown and Inquisition was that it should be as inconspicuous as possible. Officially, the Christian laity was forbidden to discuss religion with thejews, who, in general, were more highly educated and articulate than the Christians, since all Jewish males were schooled by the community in the reading of Hebrew scriptures and liturgy. Christians were also forbidden to attend Jewish ceremonies, including weddings, or eat with Jews or enter Jewish homes on the Sabbath.76 Nor might Christians be involved in Jewish observance in any other way, such as providing bread or candles for ritual use or matzot for Passover. The Vicario-General of Oran imposed fines on Jews who prayed too loudly in the synagogue and, on the seder nights, toured the juderia checking that Christians were not present at table. Vigilance was shown to ensure that burials, the only Jewish ceremonies con? ducted outside the ghetto walls, were performed with a minimum of noise and display and that on the Sabbath, during their customary walks around the city walls, thejews did not utter cries, calling upon the Messiah.77 Yet, whatever the regulations, there was undoubtedly a good deal of social contact between Jews and Catholics in reality, and not only did some Catholics partake of meals in Jewish homes but, at least in the time of Cantero Vaca, it was not uncom? mon for them to attend weddings and other cere? monies. Fernandez de Humada complained of the excessive contact between Jews and Christians in 1661, considering that 'in this matter the remedy is very difficult, though, by the mercy of God, it has never been heard or even suspected that any licentiousness between Christian and Jewess has ever occurred or v ice versa.''78 Jewish women emerged rarely from the ghet? toes, other than for Sabbath walks, and although they did visit the homes of Christians they did so, it is reported, always in twos. Cantero Vaca affirms that Jewesses prided themselves on their continence and that he never heard, during his six years in Oran, anything that could be said against their virtue, which, he regretted, was more than he could say for the Christian women of the city.79 Assuredly, there were numerous reasons why Crown and Church should seek to cover and restrict Jewish practice in the strongholds as far as possible. The fact is that Christians and Jews found each others' beliefs and observances highly offensive and, even with a minimum of contact, ugly incidents were liable to occur. There is, however, justification for including among the reasons awareness on the part of the Spanish authorities of the presence of Portuguese con? versos in the fronteras and that too open a spectacle of organised Jewish life might place too great a temp? tation in their path. This was especially so at Tangiers and Ceuta, where there were long-established com? munities of New Christians living in some degree of separateness from the Old Christians, just as in many towns of Portugal. At the time of the establishment of the Inquisition in Portugal, during the 1530s, Tangiers had been one of the main escape-routes open to con? versos seeking to reach the Muslim interior of North Africa, where they could openly revert to Judaism.80 At the same time, other conversos, unwilling to aban? don their links with the peninsula and new style of life, preferred to remain in the strongholds without this necessarily meaning any strong commitment to Cath? olicism. Moulay-el-Sheikh's intervention, in 1607, on behalf of the Jews of Tangiers and Lisbon' is likely to refer to the conversos rather than those living in the juderta. That crypto-Judaism persisted outside the juderias in the plazas is further suggested by the fact that a number of victims seized by the Inquisition for judaising, during the seventeenth century, were from this background, such as the Diego Mendez Merino who was excepted from the expulsion of the Portu? guese from Veracruz, in Mexico, in 1642, on the ground that he was from Tangiers, then still loyal to Spain, only to be seized subsequently by the Mexican Inquisition for judaising.81 At Oran, where at least one brother of the Dutch Sephardi writer Daniel Levi de Barrios, who was from a Portuguese converso family settled in Andalusia, was a soldier of the garri? son during the 1660s,82 and at Larache, there was a rootless smattering of conversos, rather than established converso communities, yet the Inquisition was still aware of a risk. In a report of 1621 on the juderta of Larache, the supreme Inquisition council in Madrid reminded Philip IV of the 'inconveniences' that follow from not separating Jews from Christians strictly enough, 'for it understood that several persons had judaized as a result of the insufficient constraint with which thejews conduct themselves there and, fearing punishment, had fled into the interior'.83 The African fronteras, apart from their strategic significance, had always been regarded in Spain as an outpost of an expanding Church poised to make further inroads into Islam. If the plazas were seen as a necessary barrier between Spain and Islam, they were also a spiritual bridgehead from which conversion of Moors and Jews could proceed. The latter were regarded as being more resistant to the Church's teachings, however. Thejews were also thought to be determined to dissuade their Moorish slaves from converting to Christianity, in which, admittedly, they</page><page sequence="10">80 Jonathan Israel had an interest but which was also a remarkable feat, since slaves of Jews, once baptised, were immediately set free. 'For no Moor living among them ever became Christian', complained Fernandez de Humada, 'while those who live among Catholics ask daily for baptism.'84 This lack of conversions among the slaves of Jews was indeed one of the most persistent allegations made by those who pressed for the expul? sion of thejews from the fronteras. Thejews them? selves, under the regulations that applied in the plazas, were obliged to attend special sermons put on for them in various churches by the clergy and were fined when they failed to attend.85 There was also regular preaching by Catholic priests in the synagogue. 'Whenever a Christian preacher addresses them in the synagogue,' recalled Cantero Vaca, 'they cease pray? ing and listen, but they have no regard for references to saints but only to scripture,' adding that 'those who convert in our times are rare, in mine there were only six.'86 The Catholic clergy may have considered that six converts in as many years were few, but in a com? munity of little more than a hundred adult males this was a substantial defection. Converts to Christianity were forced to sever all links with their families and previous lives but also acquired some claim on the Crown and one which was generally acknowledged. A Jew who converted in the 1630s and took the name Antonio Josepe petitioned the Council of War, in 1634, that conversion and departure from his family had left him impoverished, claiming a place among the infantry at Oran 'as is usually conceded to con? verts';87 Ministers in Madrid agreed that this was just and worthy of the greatness of the King and assigned him an infantry stipend of 2 escudos monthly at Oran. Another 'hebreo de nation' who appears to have con? verted, Felipe Xorxe, of Oran, represented before the Council, in 1623, that he and his father had several times advanced money to the Governor and jour? neyed into the interior to buy horses for the garrison, but that he had since been impoverished; he was assigned a place in the garrison at 4 escudos monthly.88 The two conversions that probably most shook Oran Jewry during the seventeenth century were those of a son of Jacob Qaportas,89 who converted apparently in the 1650s, and who subsequently lived in Madrid under the name Don Felipe de Moscoso, and that of Isaac Cansino, a nephew of Jacob el sabio, who accepted baptism in 1669 at the time of the expulsion. The defection of Jacob Qaportas's son seems to have lent additional bitterness to the already seriously strained relationship between the two leading Jewish families at Oran, a relationship which deteriorated further in subsequent years. Moscoso reacted strongly to news of a scandalous brawl between members of the two families in the main square at Oran, in 1657, a dispute in which sticks were used, causing such uproar that the Governor, who inclined towards the Can? sinos, took unprecedentedly firm action against their opponents. Yaho Qaportas the younger, Muxi (^aportas, and the latter's sons,. Aaron and Arbi, who were in the thick of the commotion, were per? manently exiled by San Roman, who was cautious not to send such important Jews into the Muslim interior, to the juderta of Ceuta.90 Moscoso openly displayed his anger in Madrid at the Governor's action against his relatives, and was in turn banished by the Council of War to Burgos.91 Later Moscoso became an impor? tant merchant at Alicante. Jewish?Christian relations in the strongholds were always tense and though some calm disputation between learned Jews and priests took place, and although the Jews were naturally anxious to avoid giving offence, ugly occurrences could not be entirely avoided. 'Their rabbis go frequently to the friaries', recalled Cantero Vaca, 'to debate with the priests the meaning of passages in Holy Scripture and thus it is essential that the friars have there some very learned persons who are "Old Christians" to deal with them and teach the true path to salvation.'92 There are repeated references in the sources to donations given by the Cansinos and Qaportas to the friaries and other churches in Oran, to their contributions towards the ransoming of priests captured by the Moors, and for the saying of Mass after the death of Christian friends. Jacob Cansino, who, evidently, was rather admired by Cantero Vaca, as was Yaho Qaportas, assured him 'many times' that the Cansinos had not participated in the crucifixion of Jesus, having been residing at the time in Toledo.93 Yet in the nature of things such assiduous efforts to maintain good relations with the Christians could not be entirely successful. Cantero Vaca himself clashed with thejews when he attempted to convert an elderly Jew who was dying and from whom the other Jews kept him away virtually by force. He claims that in the end thejews actually stifled the man to prevent his conversion, so that he after? wards raised the matter with the utmost vigour with the Inquisition tribunal of Murcia, which had jurisdic? tion over Oran. On another occasion, in 1656, it was alleged by the Dominican prior that, on walking through the juderta one day to preach at the syna? gogue, he found before the entrance to the house of Jacob ben Qagua a wooden cross placed in such a way that whoever might enter or leave should step upon it.94 This too met with an angry reaction among the clergy and was raised with the Inquisitors at Murcia. Possibly the worst incident that occurred in the years</page><page sequence="11">Thejews of Spanish North Africa, 1600-1669 81 preceding the expulsion from Oran was that which took place on the eve of Easter Friday, 1663, while church services were in progress, when, according to the highly hostile Sotomayor y Valenzuela, the Jews seized a Jewish girl named Miriam, their equivalent of Mary, carried her around the juderia, which was then locked and devoid of Christians, mocking her, and then threw her down, spitting on her and declaring that thus, if they could, would they treat the one the Christians call 'Mother of God'.95 When word got out, a tumult began, with many Catholics demanding that thejews be killed. The mob was only quietened by the priests with the promise that the affair would be examined very thoroughly by the Inquisition. In general, the Catholic clergy stressed that the Jews looked upon the cross with loathing, and made much of adverse reports collected from former slaves of Jews who had converted and been freed and from the occasional Jewish convert.96 'It is known from some Moors, former slaves of Jews', reported Sotomayor y Valenzuela, 'and from a [Jewish] convert. . . that they mock our true faith and utter curses when they pass by churches.' In this tense atmosphere, with the insistence of Crown and Church that Jewish practice be kept as hidden away as possible, it is obvious that the Shabba tean agitation that spread through North Africa as it did through Europe and the Middle East in 1665-1666 must have caused, if it produced any outward sign of exuberance in the plazas whatever, a negative reaction on the part of the Spanish authorities. Furthermore, since the Marques de los Velez commenced his drive to persuade Madrid that the Jews should be expelled from Oran in 1666,97 shortly after Shabbatai Zevi's apostasy in Constantinople, but while the commotion among the Jews of Europe and North Africa was still at a height, it would seem primafacie quite conceivable that there is a link between the messianic movement and the expulsion from Oran. Admittedly, Soto? mayor y Valenzuela makes no reference that could be construed as meaning that los Velez was reacting to some religious development within the Jewish com? munity, but then he offers no explanation whatever other than declaring that the Governor became sud? denly imbued with the pious scheme of driving the Jews out. The reference in the London Gazette account of 19-22July 1669 to thejews being banished from Oran 'upon suspicion of their want of fidelity' pro? vides no clue either, for any alleged lack of fidelity would certainly have been made much of in Soto? mayor y Valenzuela's and the Governor's own mis? sives to the Queen Regent. The account that appears in the Dutch paper the Hollantsche Mercurius gives no hint at all of the reason for the Spanish decision.98 Los Velez himself subsequently looked back on the event in these terms: 'Many are the reasons why Your Majesty [the Queen Regent] should take pride in this action, for many are the ills remedied by it; for there was no evil by which this perverse people did not manifest the poison in their hearts, nor any misconduct, usury, thievery, and suchlike with which they have not sought to harm Christians; and it is miraculous that they have not caused them to waver in their faith, for their ascendancy reached such a peak that they were taken by everyone for oracles; it would not have been easy to know the things which have now been discovered had not the day come when these roots were torn out.'99 The reference to the ascendancy of thejews reach? ing a peak and their being taken for oracles by Chris? tians is of course vague and may be variously interpreted. But conceivably this is a reference to the Shabbatean movement at Oran, for undoubtedly one of the distinctive features of these years was that in some countries, including Holland, some gentiles were affected by the agitation and came to look upon thejews as oracles. 'It is strange', reported the Oxford Gazette from Holland in December 1665, 'that not only the Jews here, but some hundreds that own the name of Christians among us think themselves con? cerned in it, the wiser sort of people sufficiently under? stand the cheat.'100 Another possible reason for linking the expulsion with the Shabbatean movement lies in certain specific circumstances at Oran, in 1666, immediately preced? ing los Velez's decision to press for expulsion. Soto mayor y Valenzuela states that the start of the entire process was the death on 17 September 1666 (two days after the apostasy of Shabbatai Zevi) of Jacob Cansino, following which the Jewish community, instead of automatically agreeing, as it had always previously done, that his successor to the royal interpretership should be the next in line of the Cansino family, commenced an unprecedented commotion over the succession.101 The Spanish chronicler calls this the 'cuchillo de su degollacion' and relates that the Jews, unable to resolve their differences, asked the Governor to submit to Madrid the names of three candidates, who had backing for the post, so that the Consejo de Guerra should decide. It was this, according to Soto mayor y Valenzuela, that prompted the marquis to consider whether there was any need to appoint any Jew to the position and to propose that a Christian successor be appointed. Certainly, this was an extra? ordinary occurrence such that there can be no doubt that something had produced a greater degree of dis</page><page sequence="12">82 Jonathan Israel unity in the community than practically ever before. Could it be that the Cansinos were in fact Shabba taians and had some support, but that their rivals, the (^aportas, who presumably opposed the movement, and other opponents proved too strong? Los Velez, having begun his campaign for expul? sion in October 1666, despite the support of Juan Everardo, Inquisitor-General and confessor to the Queen Regent, gained no immediate success. The matter proceeded slowly and it was not until April 1668 that the Governor received a tentative sanction for the project from Madrid, or rather a royal inquiry on how expulsion might be speedily and safely effected without involving any risks to the stronghold. Although the number of Jewish adult males was con? siderably outnumbered by the troops of the garrison, it was not thought that the operation could be carried out safely without bringing in additional troops. Moreover, it had long been royal policy that Jews expelled from the plazas should in no case be permit? ted to pass into the interior, where they could place their knowledge of the plazas and assistance at the disposal of the Muslim foes of Spain. Los Velez ans? wered that the action should be prepared with the utmost secrecy so as to prevent thejews learning of it beforehand and taking any measures, and that at least 300 additional troops should be brought over from Spain lest thejews, on hearing the decree of expulsion, should attempt any collusion with the Moors. Finally, he recommended that the Jews should be removed entirely from North Africa and shipped, at their own expense, either to Italy or the Levant. The Council of War responded favourably to these suggestions, but before finally authorising expulsion instructed the Governor to search the city archive of Oran to deter? mine precisely what was the documentary basis for Jewish residence in Oran. It was thought important to know what guarantees or promises King Ferdinand might have given the first generation of Jewish settlers in the stronghold. Having done so, the Marquis assured the Council that he found only one cedula of King Ferdinand granting rights of residence to Jews and that specifying only two families, the Cansinos and Ibn Zemerros; another Jewish family, that of Rubi Satorra, had already been allowed to settle, since he then held the interpretership in Arabic.102 He could find no legal evidence, he claimed, that rights had ever been granted by King Ferdinand to seven Jewish fami? lies, let alone that there was any basis for the residence in Oran of a community of nearly 500 persons. At length, expulsion was finally decided on at Madrid and authorisation was dispatched to los Velez by cedula dated 31 October 1668. The timing was to depend on the arrival of the reinforcements, while the other details were left to the Marquis's discretion. Los Velez was somewhat worried by the presence of Jacob Qaportas at Cartagena, whither he had journeyed, presumably, from Italy, desirous of restoring himself and his family to royal favour, hoping to obtain permission to proceed to Madrid.103 The Governor urged that (Japortas should not be allowed to proceed and took steps to prevent, should he learn of anything at Cartagena, warning reaching Oran. It is actually possible that Jacob Qaportas did dispatch warnings to his brother Samuel and son Solomon, for the Gover? nor intercepted letters to them, which he could not read, written in Hebrew by Jacob. To make doubly sure, the Marquis imprisoned Samuel and Solomon in separate towers of the fortress with orders that no one was to have access to them. At this time, Jacob died at Cartagena and Samuel succeeded to the xequta of the Oran Jews, being the last holder of the office before the expulsion. The proclamation of expulsion was read out in the plaza mayor of Oran, which was heavily lined with guards, on 31 March 1669, evidently much to the contentment of the non-Jewish populace.104 Eight days were given thejews to prepare their departure and they were permitted to elect two representatives to remain behind for a period to settle outstanding bu